Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion. However, when it starts to disrupt your daily activities or get worse, you could have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health conditions in America, with approximately 19% of adults having experienced them at some point.
1. Feelings of Fear or Worry
When we experience fear, our bodies respond by releasing stress hormones. These hormones cause us to twitch, jump and breathe more rapidly in an effort to protect ourselves.
Most people experience physical changes caused by fear when the threat has passed. However, symptoms like these may linger for those suffering from anxiety disorders.
If you believe you may be suffering from anxiety, seek the advice of your mental health provider for an evaluation. They will ask about the symptoms, how they impact daily life and what might be causing them.
Your doctor may refer you to a therapist for psychoeducation. These sessions provide information about anxiety and how to manage it effectively.
Psychotherapy and medication, which alter your brain chemistry to relieve anxiety, are two treatments commonly used. Medication can provide temporary comfort or long-term management. Benzodiazepines and antidepressants are two commonly prescribed drugs to combat anxiety; discuss them with your doctor to decide which combination of ingredients will be most beneficial and secure for you.
2. Physical Symptoms
Anxiety can manifest physically in the form of stomachaches, rapid heart rate, tingling in the hands and feet, muscle tension and jitteriness. While these may not seem like major issues to those without anxiety, the discomforts they cause can make you feel much worse than they actually are.
Physical symptoms occur when your body is in “fight-or-flight” mode, designed to prepare you for danger or an emergency. When this state of readiness sets in, your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure increase in order to provide more oxygen to working muscles.
However, being in this fight-or-flight mode on a constant basis isn’t healthy for your body. Constant releases of stress hormones can have long-term detrimental effects such as tense muscles that could eventually lead to injury or discomfort.
Treatment for these symptoms may include talk therapy or medication that reduces anxiety. It’s best to discuss your options with a mental health provider or psychiatrist who can recommend the most suitable course of action.
One in every three adults experiences bouts of insomnia that last a few days, and an additional 1 out of 10 has ongoing difficulty sleeping (chronic insomnia).
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of issues, such as physical health problems, mental health disorders and lifestyle choices like excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. If you are having persistent difficulty sleeping, it is recommended that you see a doctor.
A sleep specialist can identify the origins of insomnia and determine if it’s due to a single disorder, or simply an indication of another underlying issue. If it’s an actual disorder, they may prescribe medication that helps you fall asleep more easily and remain asleep throughout the night.
Sleep is essential for good health, and getting enough shut-eye can have a profound impact on your energy level and outlook.
4. Anxiety-Related Behaviors
Everyone experiences anxiety or fear from time to time – but for some people it becomes more than just normal worry and fear. These symptoms can interfere with daily life and make it difficult to function.
If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, speak to your doctor. They will assess your symptoms, inquire how they impact you and order tests to rule out any physical causes for them.
Most anxiety disorders respond well to treatments like psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”), which teaches you how to alter your thoughts and behavior in order to feel less anxious and fearful. Anti-anxiety medications may also help relieve symptoms.
Drugs can be addictive and cause side effects, so it is essential to consult your doctor about the best course of action. They will base their recommendations on your symptoms as well as any relevant medical history you may have.