Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Approximately 31%, or nearly one-third, of Americans struggle with some type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the feeling you get when you lay in bed stressing over your job interview or have trouble sleeping because of an upcoming doctor’s appointment. You feel anxious and nervous and may have difficulty relaxing. Understanding anxiety is half the battle toward treatment and recovery — read on to learn more.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety refers to your body’s natural reaction to stressful situations and events. It can cause worry, fear and intrusive thoughts, as well as physical changes like sweating, high blood pressure, trembling and dizziness. Studies have shown that women have a higher susceptibility to anxiety than men, which is attributed to hormones and typical brain chemistry. For most people, anxiety is a short-lived condition that resolves quickly when the situation changes, but for some, anxiety can lead to anxiety disorders.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Despite their differences, anxiety disorders have a cornerstone in common: Individuals with anxiety disorders display signs of concern over future events and may try to avoid situations that trigger an emotional or physical response.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder. It causes excessive worry and fear that may interfere with daily life. Sometimes GAD makes individuals anticipate the worst outcome even when there’s no cause for concern. People with GAD may constantly worry about money, careers, family or work and wonder, “Is generalized anxiety curable?” This condition may cause individuals to miss out on opportunities and find it difficult to perform even simple daily tasks.
Panic disorder frequently causes mild to severe panic attacks, sometimes for no reason. Panic attacks cause nausea, headaches, trembling, rapid heartbeat and feelings of loss of control or dying. These attacks can be very frightening but aren’t dangerous. They put your body into a normal fight-or-flight mode temporarily while you deal with anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Individuals with social anxiety disorder have a fear of being embarrassed in public situations and may avoid interactions with others. Those with social anxiety disorder may have difficulty speaking in public or meeting new people.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder that includes repetitive thoughts about certain situations and causes an individual to perform repetitive behaviors. For example, someone who’s afraid of their house being dirty may clean constantly.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs when a person goes through a traumatic life event. In certain situations, the individual may have flashbacks, have upsetting thoughts and feelings and show signs of emotional distress. With treatment, PTSD often resolves itself with time.
How Is Anxiety Treated?
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed by examining an individual’s medical history and performing a complete physical examination. Tests help rule out any underlying illness. Individuals receive referrals to a mental health professional with experience diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. Treatment depends on the type of anxiety and the severity of the condition. Treatment plans are tailored to the individual and may include:
- Antianxiety medications: Medications like benzodiazepines may be used short-term to relieve symptoms of anxiety, panic and worry. These medications work by increasing the production of GABA, which provides a sedative effect. Common names include Xanax, Klonopin and Versed.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants are often prescribed long-term to help with anxiety disorders. These medications may take weeks to start to work but can improve your mood and reduce stress. Brand names include Cipralex, Prozac and Seroxat.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers are commonly used to treat high blood pressure but can also reduce symptoms of anxiety, including rapid heartbeat and trembling. They’re typically given for situational anxiety. For example, you may take a beta-blocker before public speaking to help calm your nerves and reduce the fight-or-flight response. Brands include Inderal, Toprol and Corgard.
Therapy is an effective anxiety disorder treatment method. It’s often combined with other types of therapy for the best results. Individuals may attend individual or group sessions and learn to identify triggers resulting in anxiety. Therapy includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, exposure therapy (ET) and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Natural Treatment Options for Anxiety
Holistic treatment can be very effective in helping an individual deal with anxiety and stress. Natural treatment methods are safe and effective when combined with medications and therapy.
- Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which reduces tension, decreases anxiety and elevates positive moods. Even a 10-minute walk each day is enough to reduce the chances of depression and anxiety. Exercises like yoga can help calm the nerves while improving health.
- Meditation: Studies have shown mindful meditation can relieve stress and make is easier for an individual to deal with intrusive thoughts and feelings. Meditation can also help improve the quality of sleep and reduce irritability.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice of inserting fine needles into the body to treat many health conditions, including relieving stress and anxiety. Acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system, which releases natural chemicals in the body to promote healing.
Living With Anxiety
Practicing self-care is one of the best ways to help deal with anxiety. While most individuals who struggle with an anxiety disorder require care, there are coping strategies and lifestyle changes that can help.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Limit your consumption of caffeine and soft drinks.
- Get enough sleep each night.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish.
- Keep a journal.
- Stay in touch with family and friends.
- Learn what triggers an anxiety episode.
- Stick to your treatment plan.
Anxiety Treatment in Florida
At Sunlight Recovery, we provide multiple treatment options for anxiety disorders. If you or someone you love requires assistance with anxiety, we have a fully licensed team of medical professionals to help. For more information on our programs, contact us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can answer any questions you might have about anxiety treatment in Florida and get you started on the path to better health.