What is Anxiety Disorder and How is it Treated
What is Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are severe mental illnesses that produce considerable worrying or fear, which does not go away, and can get worse over time. People with anxiety disorders often experience extreme, excessive, and constant worrying and fear in daily situations.
Some people experience excessive, irrational worries and anxieties that become persistent and distressing, and interfere with their everyday lives.
It is normal for children to experience a degree of anxiety, worries, or fears at some time. What distinguishes dysphoric concerns from normal childhood worries is the length and intensity of the fears involved.
Anxiety Becoming a Disorder
Once anxiety has reached a disordered phase, it may disrupt everyday functioning. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it is irrational, excessive, and interferes with the persons ability to function in everyday life. When a person experiences excessive levels of anxiety on a regular basis, it can become a medical disorder.
Because of these physical symptoms, people suffering from anxiety often misdiagnose their disorder as a medical condition. Anxiety disorders caused by medical conditions involve symptoms of severe anxiety or panic directly caused by a physical health issue.
Social Anxiety Disorder
While anxiety may be distressing, it is not always due to medical conditions. Anxiety disorders are a category of mental health diagnoses that cause excessive nervousness, fear, anxiety, and worrying.
These disorders change the way an individual processes emotions and acts, while also producing physical symptoms.
Social anxiety disorders may cause individuals to avoid social situations and human contact, so much so that daily life becomes extraordinarily difficult.
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves a high degree of anxiety, fear, and avoidance in social situations because of feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and anxiety over being judged or perceived negatively by others.
Generalized Anxiety and Symptoms
If you experience a debilitating fear of being perceived negatively by others and being shamed in public, you may have social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia.
Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric disorders that are characterized by substantial, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and fear, so that a persons social, occupational, and personal functioning is greatly impaired.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent, excessive worries and strains, far greater than typical worries experienced in everyday life by most individuals.
If persistent worries and fears keep you away from daily activities, or if you are bothered by the persistent sense that bad things are going to happen, then you might have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Generalized anxiety is excessive worrying about lots of things all the time. Like adults, children may suffer from anxiety disorders; somewhere between 10 to 20% of all children develop full-blown anxiety disorders before age 18, making anxiety the most common mental health problem among youth.
Anxiety and Fear
It is normal to experience anxiety when our safety, health, or happiness are threatened; however, anxiety sometimes becomes overwhelming and destructive, and can occur even without an identifiable cause. There are different types and different levels of anxiety and anxiety disorder.
Some people have an isolated single attack, whereas others will develop a longer-term panic disorder; in any case, high levels of anxiety are common in the intervals between attacks, as it is impossible to know when the next attack is going to happen.
People who suffer from phobias understand that their fears are irrational, but thinking about or facing a feared item or situation may trigger panic attacks or extreme anxiety.
Fears can involve dogs, blood, storms, spiders, or other objects or situations, but in all cases, anxiety is excessive and intrusive.
How is Anxiety Disorder Treated
Several types of medications are used for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, including the ones listed below.
Examples of antidepressants used to treat generalized anxiety disorder include escitalopram (Lexapro), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva).
Medications commonly used for treating anxiety include antidepressants and tranquilizers. Some medications solely function to decrease the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety.
Therapy for Anxiety Disorder
Therapy helps, and for many anxiety problems, it is often the most effective option. Recovery is possible through the use of appropriate treatments, such as exposure therapy, mindfulness training, and a number of techniques to control your anxiety, which may help you to cope with symptoms.
The types of treatments proven most effective for many individuals experiencing an anxiety disorder include a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Often, treatments will combine several types of therapy and medications.
If those initial treatments are unsuccessful, then a more intense psychological therapy or drug treatment is typically offered. The type of treatment you get will depend on the symptoms and the type of disorder that you have.
Anxiety With Other Conditions
If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), for instance, your treatment will differ from someone seeking help with an anxiety attack.
Once you are diagnosed with anxiety, you may want to research your treatment options with your health care provider.
Once you are certain that no underlying medical conditions are present, or that medications side effects are the reason you are anxious, exploring options to treat mental health conditions is necessary.
Alcohol addiction, depression, and other conditions may sometimes have such a close association with anxiety for some individuals that treating an anxiety disorder should wait until the person has managed any underlying conditions.
Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorder
Psychotherapy is another type of treatment, which involves talking to a trained mental health professional and working on the roots of the anxiety disorder.
A form of psychotherapy known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective in treating anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been especially well-studied and found to be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective form of psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder.
Typically a brief treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills for managing anxiety directly, and helps you slowly get back to activities that you had been avoiding due to your anxiety.
Research studies show that psychological therapies, like CBT, are far more effective than medications at managing anxiety disorders over the long-term.
The most common treatments for teenagers with anxiety are talk therapy and medications. Treatments typically involve medications, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, and/or psychotherapy, which are highly effective.
Anxiety and Other Medications
Your doctor might prescribe a short course of tranquillizers or antidepressants to help manage symptoms while the other treatment options are given time to work.
A 2015 review of several studies found exercise can be just as beneficial as drugs or CBT for people suffering from anxiety or an anxiety disorder, and can be more effective than placebos (inactive pills).
The results in another study review, published in 2017, highlighted exercise significantly reducing symptoms and is a significant treatment option for those with anxiety disorders.
In a naturalistic study following an anxious patient, significant rates of relapse were also found years after CBT therapy.