Everyone goes through bouts of anxiety now and again. You might feel nervous about a job interview, issue going on at work, before a big test … and the list goes on and on.
However, when one has an anxiety disorder, the distress from this mental illness can make it hard for them to carry out normal routines and daily activities. Fear and worry dominate thoughts, and the feeling of anxiety can be disabling and overwhelming.
The good news is, anxiety disorders can be managed once diagnosed, and with a solid treatment plan, those who suffer from this mental illness can move forward to live their very best life.
Below outlines the type of anxiety disorders, signs and symptoms, as well as treatments, and coping strategies.
Types of Anxiety
Below are the differing types of anxiety disorders that can manifest in some individuals:
Panic: With a panic disorder, a person feels a strike of terror at random. They will experience panic attacks, and during these an individual might experience chest pain, heavy sweating, palpitations, and they may feel like they are having a heart attack or choking.
Social Anxiety: Also referred to as social phobia, an individual develops an overwhelming worry and self-consciousness around daily social situations. They feel judged by others, embarrassed, and ridiculed.
Specific Phobias: There are times when individuals feel an intense fear around a situation or specific objects, and this fright goes above and beyond what is considered ‘average fear’. Perhaps someone has a phobia around heights, flying, or spiders; regardless of what it is, when a person suffers from a phobia, they will avoid being in a situation that brings them face-to-face with their fear at all costs.
Obsessive Compulsive: An individual will either be overwhelmed with intrusive or distressing thoughts (obsessive) or partake in repetitive behaviors (compulsive). Examples of obsessive behaviour is worrying about germs where one can’t get the idea out of their mind. Examples of compulsive behaviors can be something along the lines of counting things in succession, trying not to walk on cracks in the sidewalk, or trying not to touch door handles.
Separation Anxiety: This anxiety is mostly found in children and occurs when kids become anxious around the thought, or the activity of being, separated from their caretaker (generally parents). This often occurs during bedtime, or when they start daycare or school for the first time.
General Anxiety: This occurs when an individual feels unrealistic worry with little or no reason behind reasoning.
Signs and Symptoms
Regardless of the type of anxiety you may have, all of these anxiety disorders tend to share over-arching signs and symptoms:
- Uneasiness, fear, and panic
- Sleep issues
- The inability to stand still or calm
- Feet and hands may feel cold, sweaty, tingling or numbness
- Heart palpitation
- Shortness of breath
- Muscles will tense up
- Dry Mouth
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Chest pain
While the root cause of anxiety is unclear, much like many other mental health conditions, researchers believe they surface due to a combination of factors including brain changes, an individual’s genes, and environmental stress. Anxiety can simply run in your family and can be connected to brain circuit flaws around the control of fear and worry.
The good news is that if you do suffer with anxiety, you can reach out for help and there are a variety of treatments that help relieve the signs and symptoms around anxiety disorders. If you notice any one of the symptoms above, reach out to your family doctor. They can offer a diagnosis and help with organizing a path of treatment to help place your anxiety disorder at bay.
There are three differing treatment options when it comes to an anxiety disorder, and many who deal with this condition try one or more of them to see what works best; some may try two at the same time to produce the best results around decreasing their anxiety symptoms. These therapies are:
Medication: There are many antidepressants available to help those with their anxiety. These must be prescribed by a doctor and include:
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
Its important to note that there are specific anticonvulsant drugs, used for epilepsy, as well as low-dosage antipsychotic meds that can be taken to assist anxiety disorder treatments as well. Anxiolytics can also help with decreasing anxiety, especially when it comes to general or social anxiety disorders or even panic attacks. Some examples include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
Psychotherapy: Also known as counselling, this anxiety disorder treatment helps sufferers deal with their emotional response to their anxiety. A professional will work with patients to help them understand what their anxiety disorder is about and how to deal with it. This is done by talking sessions with both the patient and specialist to get to the root of the matter.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy helps teach anxiety sufferers how to identify and alter their thought patterns that trigger deep panic or anxiety.
There is no one-stop shop when it comes to curing anxiety; however, through identifying the issue and treatment options, many can manage their symptoms to go on and lead health and sustainable lives. Still, treating your anxiety takes a little more than just attending therapy or taking prescriptions, there’s also key measures to follow to help manage anxiety on a daily basis. They are:
Caffeine: Ensure to decrease the intake on some foods or beverages that may trigger anxiety. Items with caffeine, which happens to be a mood-altering substance, can sometimes heighten your symptoms. Some foods to cut down on or avoid include: coffee, tea, some soda drinks, and chocolate.
Healthy Lifestyle: Eating right and maintaining a solid exercise routine is not only good for your body, it’s good for your mind too! Eating a balanced diet will help you feel better about yourself, give you the nutrients you need to tackle the day, and help to decrease anxiety symptoms. Research has proven that regular exercise can help release chemicals in the brain to decrease stress and enhance one’s mood.
Get Enough Sleep: Sadly, sleep issues and anxiety tend to go together, so those with these types of disorders need to make a good night’s sleep a priority. Ensure you have a bed routine, and if all else fails, talk to your doctor if you are still having sleep issues. Having adequate sleep is a must.
Herbal Remedies: While people tend to think these can help with anxiety, some over-the-counter products actual have chemicals within them that may make symptoms worse. Talk to a pharmacist or doctor before consuming any herbal remedies.