- Why the fuck does everyone have anxiety all of a sudden?
- Anxiety in the West: Is it on the rise?
- What is anxiety?
- Is anxiety more prevalent in the West?
- Is anxiety increasing in the U.S.?
- Why does U.S. society breed anxiety?
- Why You Should Stop Saying You Have Anxiety If You Really Don’t
- Does Everyone Have Anxiety?
- What Does an Anxiety Disorder Feel Like? Here Are 4 Signs You May Have a Problem
- Your panic is persistent
- You avoid things because of your fears
- Your worries interfere with your day-to-day life
- Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects
- What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
- What Causes an Anxiety Attack or Panic Attack?
- What Are the Signs of an Anxiety Disorder?
- Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks
- Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks
- Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Anxiety
- Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?
- Anxiety Medication: Anti-Anxiety Drug Options
- Anxiety Drugs: Possible Options
- Medication Side Effects
- Anti-Anxiety Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal
- Medication Overdose
- Depression and Anxiety
- Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Anxiety
- Getting Help for an Anxiety Disorder
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the possibility of having a relapse?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Why the fuck does everyone have anxiety all of a sudden?
I think maybe often times problems like these are the result of the sort of culture we live in and also a lack of education.* I agree with you 100%.
Mind you, I’ve been diagnosed with major depression, SAD, OCD, and an eating disorder, but I can at least understand why people label themselves with those terms despite being way off-base in what they even mean. Disregarding the fact that this is r/rant of course.
They give people legitimacy where we’re willing to completely disregard what someone says because of XYZ thing, like their age, or that their problem seems insignificant , or that it simply isn’t worth paying attention to because it’s a first world problem, so on and so forth. E.g. maybe please take me seriously where often people simply won’t. Like a call for help, I suppose. Of course it doesn’t help anyone but maybe it’s a last ditch effort. Just a guess.
The rest can probably be accounted for people not understanding what it really means to have specific disorders and what are standards are for them, like bipolar mood shifts lasting for much longer than a few hours or OCD being more than just cleaning and being a cleanly person. Inevitably they are stereotypes that get perpetuated through word of mouth. I don’t think we can get angry at people who don’t realize what they’re doing is so wrong.
I think even if it were “for attention” – as people often say about even those with diagnosed disorders, especially eating disorders – there’s something deeper to be understood. Maybe wanting attention is a desire for validation. I don’t know really but it’s a shame we shun people for this stuff.
*Not necessarily in just symptom education, but also what we know about how it comes to manifest in someone, like the very false idea that anorexics become anorexics because of thin fashion models . I recall an AMA on /r/science from a researcher mentioning that part of the key to dispelling stigma is telling the stories of people with direct experience with these issues because it humanizes the facts. Maybe that’s what we need to do.
**Obviously I could be wrong about all of this.
Everyone will experience anxiety from time to time. The demands and stress of college life may even make experiencing anxiety more frequent. So it can be tough to tell the difference between normal anxiety and a condition like social anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If anxiety is affecting you or someone you know, it’s important to learn the difference.
In general, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. In fact, it can be a good thing. Anxiety motivates you to accomplish your assignments, to study harder for a test and it can warn you when you’re in a dangerous situation. It informs you to be extra vigilant about your environment — to fight or flee. An anxiety disorder, however, involves intense and excessive anxiety, along with other debilitating symptoms.
Here are several key differences:
• Stressor. Usually normal anxiety occurs in response to a stressor, such as an exam, an upcoming interview, a fight with a friend or a new job. When you struggle with an anxiety disorder you’re anxious almost or all of the time, yet there are times when you can’t spot the source of the stress. For instance, people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) — there are six types of anxiety disorders — can have a difficult time just getting through the day. Even seemingly small responsibilities, like paying the bills, make them feel anxious.
• Intensity and Length. An anxiety disorder also produces intense and excessive emotional responses. Even if you’re reacting to a stressor, your anxiety is disproportionate to that stressor. Many people are on edge before an exam, but a person with an anxiety disorder might be anxious several weeks beforehand, and will experience intense symptoms right before and during the exam. Also, normal anxiety is fleeting, while an anxiety disorder is ongoing and the feelings can last weeks or months.
• Other symptoms. Excessive anxiety and worry aren’t the only symptoms that accompany an anxiety disorder. There are other physical symptoms, too: dizziness, light-headedness, sweating, trembling, heart pounding, headaches and nausea. You feel like you can’t breathe, can’t talk or have to go to the bathroom frequently. People with anxiety also report feeling detachment or disconnected from reality. They feel like they can’t think straight and have difficulty concentrating. Other psychological symptoms are also present. Individuals experience racing or negative thoughts, are unable to concentrate and have worries about day-to-day things.
• Impairment. When you struggle with an anxiety disorder, it affects your entire life. It impairs or interferes with your schoolwork, job and daily life. Avoidance is a symptom of some anxiety disorders and can be quite debilitating. In other words, the anxiety can cause you to avoid normal activities. You might skip class, miss a test, stop going to work, procrastinate grocery shopping or avoid anything that makes you feel anxious.
If It’s Excessive Anxiety
If you’re struggling with overwhelming anxiety and you can relate to some of the above, don’t hesitate to seek help. First, know that you’re not alone. About 40 million adults in America have an anxiety disorder. Secondly, anxiety disorders are treatable. In fact, they’re one of the most treatable conditions of all emotional disorders.
If you’re concerned you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder, take our anonymous screening tool or find out how to get help on your campus.
Anxiety in the West: Is it on the rise?
According to some observers, anxiety is now snowballing in the United States. So, in this Spotlight, we ask whether anxiety truly is becoming more prevalent in the West and, if so, what may be causing it.
Share on PinterestThe story of anxiety is deep and long.
For many, anxiety is an ever-present uninvited guest; in our circle of friends, among family members, and in communities at large.
It seems to be rampaging through society like a noncontagious cognitive plague, forming a low-level hum that hides in the corners of our collective minds.
In August 2018, Barnes & Noble — who are the largest book retailer in the United States — announced a huge surge in the sales of books about anxiety; a 25 percent jump on June 2017. “e may be living in an anxious nation,” one press release dryly notes.
Does this surge in interest reflect a genuine spike in anxiety, or are people simply more aware of it? In this article, we ask whether anxiety truly is increasing, if wealthier nations are bearing the brunt, and why anxiety seems to be sitting in the driving seat of modern society.
Many of us — a surprisingly high percentage, as we shall see — are all too familiar with how anxiety feels. For those who have not experienced anxiety first-hand, throughout the text, we have added excerpts from personal experiences.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a nebulous term that covers a great deal of psychological ground. At the thinnest end of the wedge, before an exam or a job interview, we might feel anxious. This is both understandable and normal; it is not a cause for concern.
Anxiety is only a problem when it extends beyond logical worry in an unreasonable, unwarranted, uncontrollable way. Situations that should elicit no negative emotions all of a sudden seem life-threatening or crushingly embarrassing.
At the widest end of the wedge, anxiety can arrive as a symptom of another mental illness, such as panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
When anxiety is a person’s primary symptom, it may be referred to as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom summarize GAD neatly.
“People with GAD,” they explain, “feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.”
GAD affects around 6.8 million people in the U.S. — or more than 3 percent of the country’s adults.
Another common form of anxiety is social anxiety, which affects people more specifically in social situations.
It might make someone very self-conscious, perhaps not wanting to eat or drink in front of others, fearing that people are talking about them, or worrying about being lost in a crowd. It comes in many forms.
Share on PinterestAnxiety disorders are more common than one might think.
Today, “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.,” affecting around 40 million adults — almost 1 in 5 people.
Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) say that almost 300 million people have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are not new, either. In fact, Robert Burton wrote this description in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) referring to a patient of Hippocrates. It will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced anxiety.
“He dare not come into company for fear he should be misused, disgraced, overshoot himself in gestures or speeches, or be sick; he thinks every man observeth him.”
Interestingly, anxiety is not just a human experience, and evolution is ultimately to blame (or thank); as with other animals, humanity’s survival relies on our natural ability to feel anxious about genuinely dangerous situations and to be on guard.
It is when this life-saving mechanism is triggered at inappropriate times or gets stuck in the “on” position that it becomes a problem.
So, to the first big question: is anxiety really affecting us more now than it has in the past? Is anxiety on the up in the West, or, in a modern society where good mental health is a goal in itself, are we just more likely to notice and discuss it?
“When it’s bad, it feels like an electric current building up inside of me and like it’s going to start shooting out of me, except it doesn’t, which is worse.”
Is anxiety more prevalent in the West?
A large study that was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2017 set out to answer this exact question. In particular, the researchers looked at GAD.
One might expect that, since mental illness tends to be more common in areas of the U.S. that have a lower socioeconomic status, anxiety might also be more prevalent in countries with a lower socioeconomic profile.
Additionally, in less wealthy countries, people can be under substantial stress; finding food, water, or safety might be an issue in some regions.
However, it is important to remember that GAD is about feelings of anxiety that are unreasonable. In a country where there is genuine struggle, higher levels of anxiety might rightly be considered justifiable and therefore not a diagnosable condition.
The study, involving 147,261 adults from 26 countries, concluded:
“The disorder is especially common and impairing in high-income countries despite a negative association between GAD and socioeconomic status within countries.”
In other words, within each country, GAD is more prevalent in less wealthy regions. However, as a whole, it is the residents of wealthier countries who are more likely to experience GAD, and their lives are more significantly impacted by it.
Breaking down the statistics, the scientists found that lifetime estimates for GAD were as follows:
- low-income countries: 1.6 percent
- middle-income countries: 2.8 percent
- high-income countries: 5.0 percent
This is in line with other research that found a higher prevalence of anxiety in wealthier economies.
In the WHO’s Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders Global Health Estimates report that was released in 2017, they compare prevalence estimates of mental disorders across global regions.
When they compare the levels of depression, no single area has significantly higher rates. When it comes to anxiety disorders, however, it’s a different story; the Americas are head and shoulders above all other regions, including Africa and Europe.
Interestingly, though the U.S. and the West in general do seem to be taking the lead in the anxiety stakes, it may not stay this way for long; the very same report explains that common mental health disorders are increasing in lower-income countries “because the population is growing and more people are living to the age when depression and anxiety most commonly occurs.”
Added to this, anxiety tends to be less common in older adults. Also, because the average age of U.S. individuals is slowly rising, the percentage of people with anxiety disorders may gradually decline.
To conclude this section, although other countries might be catching up, it does seem that anxiety is more common in wealthier nations and perhaps the U.S. in particular — but is it getting worse?
“Anxiety is mysterious. It can feel like an invisible cage that keeps you prisoner on your sofa, unable to move for fear of something that you can’t quite identify.”
Is anxiety increasing in the U.S.?
Much debate surrounds this question. Is anxiety on the rise, or are we simply more inclined to think and speak about it these days? This is a tough question to pick apart, but we must try.
The American Psychiatric Association ran a poll on 1,000 U.S. residents in 2017, and they found that nearly two thirds were “extremely or somewhat anxious about health and safety for themselves and their families and more than a third are more anxious overall than last year.”
Share on PinterestAnxiety in the U.S. may be impacting millennials most.
They also noted that millennials were the most anxious generation.
In 2018, the same poll was repeated. Anxiety was shown to have risen again by another 5 percent.
Millennials were revealed to still be the most anxious generation.
It is crucial to remember, though, that increasing feelings of anxiety do not equate to a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.
Naturally, it is possible to feel more anxious than you previously did without it being classified as a mental condition.
Looking at the broader picture, several studies have charted the rise of mental health issues in the West.
For instance, a meta-analysis published in 2010 took data from studies that included over 77,000 young people; the scientists found generational increases in mental health issues in 1938–2007.
Another report, using data from four surveys completed by almost 7 million people in the U.S., concluded that “Americans reported substantially higher levels of depressive symptoms, particularly somatic symptoms, in the 2000s–2010s compared to the 1980s–1990s.”
Outside of the U.S., the U.K. Council for Psychotherapy published a report in 2017 that assessed the mental health of full- and part-time employees. Their figures show that “workers reporting anxiety and depression have risen by nearly a third in the last 4 years.”
As for Europe at large, a huge analysis that was published in 2011 concluded that almost one third of adults had some type of mental health issue, with anxiety disorders being the most frequent.
However, this study was a follow-up to a similar pan-European review conducted in 2005, and the authors note that there were no significant increases between these years.
“I have a list of possible problems in my head. If all the real problems are solved, I turn another one into a problem so that I can worry about it. These are constant facts of life. It is not increasing. It has always been like this.”
The authors believe that the perception of a new wave of mental health issues may be an illusion, concluding that “the true size and burden of disorders of the brain in the was significantly underestimated in the past.”
Another paper concludes that “it is difficult to find reliable evidence for a change in prevalence rates for anxiety disorders. Epidemiologic data obtained before the introduction of psychiatric classification systems are too imprecise to be comparable with modern studies.”
The study authors note that “the rate of treatment-seeking individuals increased, which may be the reason for the general impression that these disorders are more frequent.”
To add to the already complicated mix, anxiety disorders have a genetic factor. Researchers think that 30–50 percent of the variation in anxiety disorders within a population is down to our genes.
Levels of a condition that has a heritable component are likely to be more stable, since the prevalence of those genes won’t change much across a few decades or even centuries.
Whether the upward trend is real or imagined, there is no question that anxiety is dominant in the U.S. population; so, the next question is…
Why does U.S. society breed anxiety?
Before we dive into the next section, we must make clear that there is no definitive answer to this question. Many people have offered insight, be it backed up by evidence or not. The answer is likely to be complex in the extreme and a mishmash of all facets of modern life and societal pressures.
Share on PinterestAnxiety is complex — as are its origins.
No two people are the same; no two people’s experiences are the same; no two people’s experience of anxiety is the same.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely that there will be an answer that fits all sizes.
That said, there is a range of theories that attempt to explain why anxiety might be creeping steadily into the foreground.
As we have seen, the number of people in wealthier societies who have an anxiety disorder is surprisingly high.
However, it’s worth noting that many people who experience daily anxiety may not meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder but are still affected.
These people are harder to quantify; they fly under the radar, not enduring enough psychological discomfort to join the GAD ranks but still feeling its force.
“If someone overtakes me on my way home, anxiety convinces me that it’s my fault for going too slow. If a family member or friend gets into an accident, anxiety convinces me it’s my fault for not wishing them a safe journey.”
Below are a few theories that have been kicked around by people interested in how anxiety might develop.
A shift in society
Some say that humans in Western societies are becoming more psychologically sensitive because there is less pressure on us to survive now that food and water are so abundant. They believe that our gaze has moved away from survival and shifted inward.
They argue that we now focus on extrinsic desires, such as a new car and a big house, rather than intrinsic desires, including the joy of family and friends, and meeting with others in the community.
This all sounds like it may be difficult to pin down with research, but some scientists have come to similar conclusions.
One study published in the 1990s found that people who pursued money, looks, and status were more likely to feel anxious and depressed.
A study looking at changes in freshman attitudes over a 40-year period found that the number of students who place importance on financial gains has almost doubled since the 1960s, whereas “developing a meaningful philosophy for life” has dropped in importance dramatically.
A meta-analysis that investigated increased psychopathology in U.S. youths over time concluded that “he results best fit a model citing cultural shifts toward extrinsic goals, such as materialism and status and away from intrinsic goals, such as community, meaning in life, and affiliation.”
Motivations are drifting away from the community and onto the individual. Materialism is paramount in modern society. It’s impossible to draw a straight line between these shifts in culture and anxiety, but some are tempted to do so.
“The worst part is not being able to focus — anxiety induces a thick brain fog, making it really difficult to concentrate at work. Not being able to concentrate at work, in turn, makes me feel anxious about other people’s perception of my performance and feeds the cycle.”
People today are much more likely to live alone than they were 50 years ago. In the U.S. in 1960, under 7 percent of adults lived alone; by 2017, that figure had soared to well over one third of adults.
Could this be playing a part? Of course, many people are incredibly happy to live alone — others, however, are not.
Loneliness has received a great deal of interest over recent years and has been discussed as a potential risk factor for depression and Alzheimer’s, among other conditions.
Although depression and anxiety disorders are separate conditions, individuals with depression commonly experience similar symptoms, such as nervousness. Social anxiety disorder often appears in tandem with major depression.
Share on PinterestCould loneliness help explain anxiety in the West?
In fact, those who go on to develop depression often develop an anxiety disorder earlier on in their life.
Anxiety also sometimes occurs as a part of the mood changes that take place in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s.
Loneliness can also worsen symptoms for those with chronic pain, a condition that often brings anxiety in tow.
Similarly, being in a state of high anxiety can increase the level of perceived pain, thereby creating a vicious cycle; if someone is in pain, they feel anxious, and anxiety drives the pain.
It seems that social isolatation could potentially increase anxiety through a number of pathways.
To muddy the waters further, some people who experience high levels of anxiety choose to live alone. So, the higher number of people living alone may be part of the cause and effect of an increase in anxiety levels in the West.
A chemical world
Perhaps there’s something in the water? That sounds a little conspiratorial, but we shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. There certainly is an unwieldy range of chemicals in the environment we inhabit.
A literature review — published in 2013 — assessed the evidence that chemicals in the environment might influence the developing brain while we are in the womb.
Poring over existing research, the scientists investigated chemicals well-known to be poisonous (such as lead), chemicals that have been considered dangerous only in recent decades (such as methylmercury), and compounds that are only now being studied for potential toxicity (including certain ingredients in plastics).
Of the chemicals they tested, only two were linked with anxiety, specifically. These were phthalates and bisphenol-A, both of which are used in the production of plastics. However, the findings were inconclusive, and the relevant studies that they analyzed produced contradictory results.
A large BMJ study involving more than 70,000 female nurses drew links between air pollution and anxiety.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers estimated long-term pollution exposure and compared it with data from an anxiety questionnaire. They found that those who had higher levels of exposure were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety.
This area of research is notoriously difficult to unpick; humans are never exposed to just one single chemical. We are all bathed in a cocktail of varying composition; a cocktail whose ingredients change across the days, months, and years.
It will be a long time before even semisolid conclusions can be made about environmental chemicals and anxiety.
“My anxiety is usually a bit like white noise in the background — I get on with life, but it always feels like there’s something I’m missing, something I haven’t attended to, or that there’s something I’ve done horribly wrong.”
Some others have looked to the impact of social media on mental health. After all, social media has flooded society so thoroughly in such a short space of time, it is highly unlikely to have had no impact at all.
Share on PinterestWhat role does social media play in anxiety today?
Facebook was founded in 2004; today, almost 1.5 billion people use it at least once per day.
So one, singular, standalone website is now perused by around 1 in 5 people globally.
That’s incredible, and Facebook is only one of the many social media giants.
Studies looking at the link between social media and anxiety are relatively easy to find.
For instance, one that investigated social media use, sleep, and mental health in over 400 Scottish adolescents revealed that those who used social media the most, particularly at night-time, had lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Another investigation surveyed more than 1,700 young U.S. adults. The researchers compared the number of social platforms used with levels of anxiety and depression.
People who frequented higher numbers of social platforms reported higher levels of depression and anxiety. Another study on 18–22-year-olds came to similar conclusions.
Before we throw Facebook and their staff to the lions, we need to remember that cause and effect cannot be established in the vast majority of these studies.
It is possible that an anxious person seeks solace in social media. Perhaps it’s not that social media causes anxiety, but that social media is attractive to those who are already anxious. Maybe anxiety drives the user to engage with social media more often.
Because social media is so ubiquitous, it is difficult to run a study with a control group of adults who have not been introduced to it.
“For me, having OCD-related anxiety means that nothing — not even the most banal everyday activity — can be experienced without guilt and fear. And that’s why it’s draining. I’m constantly on the lookout for the harm I might involuntarily cause.”
Is life just more stressful now?
Are jobs more stressful? Is commuting to blame? When we tell kids that they can “achieve anything if they try hard enough,” are we setting them up to fail? Not every kid can be the president (or Beyoncé), after all.
Share on Pinterest’Fake news’ is everywhere.
Is our self image being driven into the floor by the constant bombardment on our senses of perfectly filtered, digitally altered models?
Has capitalism shifted the attention from kindly social pursuits to vastly unobtainable personal desires, leaving us with a gaping chasm we know we can never fill?
Can we lay some of the blame at the feet of the modern media, the perpetual, brightly lit news cabaret telling us that the world is broken, we broke it, and it can’t be fixed, and that everything gives us cancer?
Indeed, John S. Price, a former practicing psychiatrist, when introducing a paper on the evolution of social anxiety, writes that “as a practicing clinician, I advise all my anxious patients to avoid watching TV news.”
Climate change, nuclear apocalypse, Ebola, flesh-eating viruses, antibiotic resistance, ever-growing economic inequality, fake news…the list is endless.
Anxiety might be prevalent because the society we live in is more stressful than it was 5, 10, or 50 years ago.
However, assessing how stressful a society is compared with any other is bordering on impossible.
Perhaps anxiety is prevalent in the U.S. because of all or none of the above. After all, everyone is different, and anxiety may have a myriad of causes in each individual.
Unraveling the ins and outs of mental health is not a simple task; conditions overlap, symptoms vary, and cause and effect are blurred.
Is anxiety a spectrum that we all inhabit? Is humanity a naturally anxious species? Its severity and prevalence might fluctuate with the social conditions of the time, but perhaps it is within us all.
Maybe anxiety is poised and ready to pounce when we let down our guard, or when our guard is reduced by external forces.
This article has posed many more questions than it has answered, but at the very least, it shows how complex the issue of anxiety is. Perhaps most importantly, it shows you that if you are personally affected by anxiety, you are not alone.
I was 24 when I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. My life had started to feel like an endless to-do list that I could never get through, and that feeling was dizzying. That same year, I had my first panic attack. I was at a shoe store on New York’s Upper West Side, and suddenly began to get flushed and nauseous — the moccasin-lined walls seemed to be closing in on me. I didn’t fully realize what was happening, and hastily purchased a pair of (ugly) black knee boots that were a size too small in order to get out of there before anyone noticed that there was something wrong with me.
There was, indeed, something wrong with me. Anxiety disorders, per a 2016 medical study, typically manifest around age 21, and generalized anxiety disorder (which I have in spades) is twice as common in women, according to the Anxiety and Depression Organization of America. The former statistic dovetails inconveniently with many of our entrances into the professional world.
For me, the cocktail of untreated anxiety and employment had already proved disastrous. Following graduation, I received a Fulbright teaching fellowship which sent me to rural Argentina, where I was to give English classes both at a university and to a select group of loquacious retirees. This seemed straightforward enough, but anxiety made everything endlessly complicated and I was convinced that I was a fraud — my great fear was that everyone would find out that I had no idea what I was doing, that I wasn’t smart, and that I really didn’t deserve a Fulbright. For one class, I was dispatched to deliver a talk about approximately 100 years of North American history. How could I do this without essentializing? I overprepared and fumbled through the class, which was met with a scathing review from my supervisor. The result of the negative performance evaluation was that I felt like I deserved to die.
Anxiety is a funny thing. It runs on perfectionism but, unchecked, can make it impossible to achieve even passable work.
Anxiety is a funny thing. It runs on perfectionism but, unchecked, can make it impossible to achieve even passable work.
I went to see a psychiatrist. He would be the first of many. He told me that the town I was living in — a soy-production capital where feral dogs would frequently tick into my classroom and relieve themselves on the floor — was the problem. “You need to move to the capital where there’s CULTURE and people will understand you better!” he proclaimed. This struck me as the best idea ever (who among us doesn’t want to hear that their problem is really everyone else?). My supervisor (also, incidentally, the ex-wife of the psychiatrist) thought otherwise, and threatened to terminate me. She took it upon herself to send an email to all my colleagues asserting that I was mentally unstable and that they hadn’t been welcoming enough, which caused great consternation among the faculty, and certainly didn’t make me any allies. My worst fears had come true: I was failing, and I was hated.
Out of pride, or stubbornness, or some unforeseen reserve of strength, I stuck it out in the town, and sought out a cognitive behavioral therapist to help me practice coping mechanisms. I found the worksheets and prescriptive nature of this therapy soothing and productive. I started to do well at work, to everyone’s dismay. But the constant churn of creating “perfect” lesson plans still wore on me, and I burned out. I had fun in the classroom, yes, but the preparation tormented me. I felt like I needed to be working constantly, and when I wasn’t working, I felt guilty about not working. The lesson plan could always be a little bit better. A little bit better, I’ve since learned, is a dangerous sentiment for someone like me.
A little bit better, I’ve since learned, is a dangerous sentiment for someone like me.
I finished the school year, but the specter of anxiety convinced me that teaching was ultimately not the right profession for me. It was “too stressful.” Instead, I wanted to be a magazine journalist — an interesting choice for someone who is pathologically terrified of people.
In hindsight, I think that if I had been medicated then, and not simply prescribed a change of scenery, I could have been perfectly happy as an educator. A study on gender and women’s mental health by the World Health Organization states that “Despite being common, mental illness is underdiagnosed by doctors. Less than half of those who meet diagnostic criteria for psychological disorders are identified by doctors.” Not that I harbor any hard feelings toward that well-intentioned psychiatrist, or my supervisor. I’m grateful to them — and to my anxiety itself — for propelling me toward my career as a writer, despite all its attendant struggles.
When I returned to New York, I began to look for an elusive “writer” job and went to see another psychiatrist — the one that finally formally diagnosed me. My anxiety had gotten so bad that at times I was unable to eat, and then along came that panic attack at the shoe store. The doctor, another man, prescribed me Lexapro, which is an SSRI (short for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; it’s designed to increase serotonin levels in the brain) that’s commonly used to treat depression, though it’s meant to work wonders on anxiety too. While I waited for it to kick in, I lolled around on my parents’ couch watching the box set of 24 for hours at a time and generally feeling like life was unmanageable.
Medication has been a rocky road for me. By the time I turned 30, I’d been on pretty much every imaginable combination, with mixed results, and logged more hours than I can count on the therapist’s couch. I had a (wonderful) therapist who died of cancer; another one got repatriated. A laundry list of mental health professionals, some exceptional, some hapless, came in and out of my life. Meanwhile, I was busy building my writing and editing career, first as a fact-checker at New York Magazine, later as the fashion news & features editor at Harper’s Bazaar. At times, my anxiety has been unbearable. There was one dark period in which my hair started falling out from stress. I’ve had insomnia. I’ve felt isolated. I’ve wanted to die.
There was one dark period in which my hair started falling out from stress. I’ve had insomnia. I’ve felt isolated. I’ve wanted to die.
I was talking to a friend today who is currently suffering from social anxiety. “Eventually, you’ll come out the other side,” I heard myself saying to her. And I believed it. Without the professional U-turn that anxiety caused me to take at the beginning of my career, I wouldn’t have the life I have today. I would probably never have met my husband. I wouldn’t have my amazing daughter. I likely wouldn’t live in Los Angeles, where I’ve found a gentler, kinder lifestyle. And I wouldn’t have a job that requires me to step out of my head and do that most difficult thing — talk to other people — every day of my life.
Christine Whitney is a writer, editor and consultant living between Los Angeles and NYC. She writes frequently for publications like The Cut and WSJ, and most recently served as Editorial Director for Violet Grey; prior to that she was the Senior Fashion News and Features Editor at Harper’s Bazaar. She lives with her husband, set designer Daniel Horowitz, their daughter Romy, and their cat Mittens.
Why You Should Stop Saying You Have Anxiety If You Really Don’t
Everyone is guilty of using certain anxiety-driven phrases for dramatic effect: “I’m going to have a nervous breakdown!” “This is giving me a total panic attack right now.” But these words have the power to do more than just offend people-they could trigger someone who is actually suffering.
I have suffered from general anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. But I didn’t truly understand it or begin to seek help until I began having panic attacks when I was 19. Therapy, medicine, family, and time have all helped me regain control over my anxiety, but now and then it hits me hard. (Related: 13 Apps That Can Help Ease Depression and Anxiety)
When I’m suffering from a tough bout of anxiousness, hearing you use the words “anxiety” or “panic attack” pains me. I want so badly to tell you that your colloquial words hold so much more meaning in my world. And that is why I feel so obliged to scream: If you don’t suffer from panic attacks, stop saying you’re having them! And please, stop using the term “anxiety” to describe simply feeling nervous or stressed out. Here’s what you should know when it comes to the differences between fleeting feelings of stress and the kind of anxiety millions of Americans like me experience-and why you should think twice before throwing around the ‘a’ word.
1. Anxiety affects the brain differently than nerves.
The hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol, which are often referred to as the stress hormones, all play a part in the sympathetic nervous system and are responsible for feelings of energy, anxiety, stress, or excitement. When these hormones surge, how your body recognizes them and processes those emotions makes a big difference between casual nervousness and sheer panic. Anxiety occurs in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is thought to affect the way your body processes emotions. The steadfastness of anxiety alerts your neurotransmitters to signal to the sympathetic nervous system hormones that you’re feeling anxious, scared, or agitated. The physical reaction inside your body is known as the fight-or-flight response, during which the brain actually steals some blood flow from the internal organs, which can result in an overwhelming, dizzy, and lightheaded feeling. (This Woman Bravely Shows What a Panic Attack Looks Like.)
2. Anxiety isn’t a temporary emotion or reaction.
Whether you’re about to go on a job interview, dealing with a health scare, or experiencing a breakup, it’s healthy and normal to feel anxious. (Hey, Plenty of People Experienced It During the Election.) After all, the anxiety definition is the body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations and it helps you stay alert and aware. But for some people, the nerves, stress, and worry are frequent and forceful, taking over their lives. You may assume anxiety is always fleeting-“it will pass,” you tell your friend-which may be why you casually use it to describe any kind of temporary and situational nervousness or stress. But for people like myself suffering from an anxiety disorder, it’s not something that can just be shaken off. Being anxious about your in-laws coming to town is not the same thing as having a diagnosed anxiety disorder. That kind of anxiety is not a temporary emotion. It’s a daily struggle.
3. Anxiety is recognized as a mental health disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. In fact, roughly 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some anxiety-related disorder, but only one-third seek treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you’ve thought back to times when you were able to deal with and move past anxiety, it may be easy to think that anyone with an anxiety disorder is simply not trying hard enough-they’re just “nervous wrecks” who need to “chill out.” (After all, going for a jog around the block always works for you, right?) Being confused about the difference between garden-variety stress and a true mental disorder, but using the same words to describe both, results in some pretty unfair judgment and stigmatization.
4. Anxiety can have serious physical side effects.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”). Other mental health issues, such as depression, can commonly occur alongside anxiety disorders, as well. Those affected can have trouble sleeping, concentrating, or even leaving their house. It can feel irrational, overwhelming, and completely disproportionate to the situation even to the person experiencing it. Not to mention, these feelings of sadness, anxiousness, panic, or fear can sometimes come out of nowhere with no direct cause or situation. (These Sleep-Better Tips Could Help Prevent Night Anxiety.)
After a panic attack, I’ll have a sore chest for days as a result of the ongoing muscle contractions, but other physical symptoms like trembling, headaches, and nausea can also occur. Diarrhea, constipation, cramping and bloating, or even the development of irritable bowel syndrome, can happen as a result of the constant fight-or-flight response and the stress that puts on your digestive system. Chronic anxiety can even lead to kidney and blood vessel damage due to the irregular spikes in blood sugar.
5. Anxiety is often a family struggle.
Being nervous about a situation isn’t genetic, but an anxiety disorder can be. Researchers have found that anxiety disorders run in families and have a biological basis similar to allergies or diabetes. This was the case for me: My mother and her mother suffer from anxiety disorders, as does my sister. This genetic predisposition can surface at a young age, too-certain anxiety traits linked with panic disorders are apparent in kids as young as 8 years old, according to a study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. (Side note: This Weird Test Could Predict Anxiety and Depression Before You Experience Symptoms.)
There are a number of misconceptions about mental illness, and using terms like “depressed,” “panic attack,” and “anxiety” too loosely doesn’t help. It makes it harder for people to really understand what it’s like to live with mental illness. But people need to know that anxiety is nothing like passing, situational nervousness. Being sensitive to the possibility that anyone may be struggling with a mental health issue, and choosing your words carefully, can help prevent people with mental health issues from feeling misunderstood and stigmatized.
- By By Alexa Erickson
Does Everyone Have Anxiety?
In Mental Health November 9th, 2018
Everyone feels nervous in certain situations and there are always moments of anxiety that occur as a natural response to stress. It is true that everyone feels anxious sometimes but this is not that same as having anxiety. There is a difference between the kind of occasional anxious feelings that people experience and having an anxiety disorder.
Even though anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., the reality is that not everyone has anxiety. Feeling nervous before a big interview or a first date does not qualify as anxiety in the medical sense. When a person has an anxiety disorder they are often dealing with irrational fears that cause persistent symptoms for months, regardless of any particular situation.
Anxiety can be crippling and interfere with a person’s ability to carry out their daily tasks. When the average person feels anxious about something they can simply bear through it and cope with their nervousness the best that they can. Someone with anxiety may find their symptoms are so severe that they have to completely avoid certain situations.
Symptoms of anxiety also tend to occur at any period of time rather than being tied to a specific event. Someone with an anxiety disorder may feel anxious about more general things such as being judged by other people or having a feeling that there is something wrong with them. Their anxiety is not temporary and not something that they can cope with without professional help.
The good news is that anxiety is treatable and people with the disorder can learn to manage their symptoms so that it doesn’t interfere with their daily life. Talking to a therapist about anxiety can help patients learn to identify their triggers and develop strategies for them. Over time their anxiety will become more manageable.
What Does an Anxiety Disorder Feel Like? Here Are 4 Signs You May Have a Problem
In some cases, the emotions become so severe they lead to a panic attack, a sort of weaponized anxiety that hits fast and hard and includes such symptoms as dizziness, rapid heart rate, depersonalization or out-of-body experience and a fear of losing control or dying. “If you suddenly have to slam on your brakes and swerve to avoid a collision, that pounding heart and rapid breath you feel for a few minutes after is a form of panic attack,” says psychologist Anne Marie Albano, director of Columbia University’s Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. “In the context of a disorder, however, you might start to feel the same thing the moment you walk into the office or a party.”
Your panic is persistent
An anxious brain, like a non-anxious brain, is always learning. But the anxious brain sometimes learns the wrong things and has an awfully hard time unlearning them. Once you’ve decided that people at parties are probably judging you, your brain may lock that lesson in and pretty soon generalize it to any social encounter. Ditto an obsessive-compulsive fear of disease or a panic over separation or loss. Sometimes, especially in the case of OCD, it takes just a single traumatic event — a genuinely embarrassing social moment, say, or a legitimate medical scare — for the brain to establish a fixed fear. Left untreated, those anxieties can go on for months and years.
You avoid things because of your fears
We all avoid things we fear or dislike: you could go your whole life without roller coasters or cilantro or horror movies. But they don’t really affect your life. Anxieties start to strip away the things that do. “You may dread getting a medical test because of what you could learn,” says Albano. “But if you’re avoiding going to your doctor at all because of it, that’s a problem.”
People with an airplane phobia may, similarly, limit their travel to only places they can drive. People with big dreams may sometimes settle for smaller ones because their anxiety holds them back. “I know people who went to law school and wanted to pursue a career in criminal law but were afraid to be in front of a courtroom,” says Albano. “So they push documents in a law firm instead.”
Your worries interfere with your day-to-day life
Ultimately, an anxiety disorder may become so severe that the basic business of living becomes compromised. People suffering from OCD may need hours to get out of the house in the morning because the pillows on the bed aren’t arranged properly. Schoolwork and job performance may suffer because perfectionism makes it impossible to complete a project or because social anxiety makes it impossible to talk to classmates or colleagues. Things become worse when emotional symptoms lead to physical ones such as headaches, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. “The question I ask first is, ‘Is your anxiety impairing your functioning?’” says Goldberg.
Anxiety responds well to professional care. Treatment may include psychotropic medications like Zoloft or Prozac, which can at least lower the voltage of the pain. That may make it easier to embrace and practice the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy, in which people learn to talk back to their anxiety, reframe their fears to something less extreme, and practice self-soothing techniques like mindfulness or distraction or breathing. Slow, graduated exposure to the very things people fear also helps the brain break the link between the trigger situation and the terror that follows.
No one can live a life untouched by anxiety. But with the right skills and the right help, no one needs to live one that is destroyed by it, either.
Write to Jeffrey Kluger at [email protected]
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Anxiety disorders are common in people of all ages. They can range in severity from mild to debilitating. Thankfully, there is help available for those who suffer from anxiety disorders so they can lead healthy, happy lives.
What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
When a person has an anxiety disorder, they may feel fearful or uncertain almost all the time. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the fear and anxiety that occur due to an anxiety disorder are markedly different than the brief episodes of these feelings that are commonly related to normal events, such as speaking at a public event or meeting a blind date. In most cases, if a person has an anxiety disorder, their anxiety disorder symptoms will persist for more than six months. There are several different types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
If you have generalized anxiety disorder, you may feel constantly worried even if there is no real reason to worry about anything. In most cases, this type of anxiety disorder starts when you are in your teens, and its symptoms get worse as you progress through adulthood.
Panic Disorder (Characterized by Anxiety or Panic Attacks)
If you suffer from panic attacks, you may have a panic disorder. This condition, which is often marked by extreme anxiety, may cause you to feel panicked about small things, and these feelings may escalate during times of stress. Sadly, many people with panic disorders may struggle with embarrassment. They may feel embarrassed that simple tasks, such as driving a car or shopping for groceries, are difficult and sometimes impossible to do.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Many people think they have obsessive-compulsive disorder if they clean their house obsessively or consistently check their car door after locking it. However, a person with OCD struggles with ending their compulsive desire to repeat the same actions over and over again. In most cases, anxiety disorder symptoms associated with OCD appear during childhood.
If you or someone you love has intense and irrational fears of things that are really not that dangerous, a phobia may be in play. People who suffer from phobias fear all kinds of things. If you have a phobia, you may experience any of the following anxiety disorder symptoms when you are facing something you fear:
- Feelings of panic
- Elevated heart rate
- Inability to catch your breath or shortness of breath
- Unexplained shaking
Social Anxiety Disorder
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, you may have a social anxiety disorder if you feel afraid of being judged by others. In some cases, your symptoms may be so devastating that they may disrupt your relationships or your daily life. Typically, the onset of this disorder happens at age 13, and over one-third of the people who suffer from this disorder suffer from it for 10 or more years before seeking help.
If you feel you are, or a loved one is, suffering from a social anxiety disorder or any other anxiety disorder, it is time to get help. There is no reason to hide your symptoms or struggle on your own. When you contact us at , our knowledge agents will help you find the treatment program that is right for you.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If you have PTSD, you may feel afraid or stressed when there is no danger present. When a person feels afraid, their body experiences a number of changes that get it ready to protect itself against danger. In dangerous situations, these feelings can be useful. However, when a person has PTSD, their reactions may be damaged to the extent that they feel like the entire world is dangerous.
What Causes an Anxiety Attack or Panic Attack?
According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety disorders can have a number of different causes. Some people are predisposed to anxiety disorders due to their genetic makeup. Others simply cannot handle stress well. In some cases, you may have an anxiety disorder without experiencing any of these causes.
What Are the Signs of an Anxiety Disorder?
Depending on which type of anxiety disorder you have, its causes and effects may vary. Anxiety disorder symptoms can be emotional or physical in nature.
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks
If you have an anxiety disorder, the strongest emotional symptoms that you may experience are ones related to feelings of fear. You may constantly feel like danger is near, and you may feel like you have little control over your environment.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks
The physical symptoms of anxiety vary depending upon which type of disorder you have. Some of the symptoms you may notice are:
- Increased heart rate
- Unexplained sweating
- Inability to breathe deeply
- Feeling cold for no reason
- Having hot flashes for no reason
- Stomach cramps
- Feelings of dizziness
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Anxiety
The effects of anxiety disorders can also vary. Some of the short-term effects you may experience include an inability to complete everyday tasks. The most serious long-term effect is becoming suicidal. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, nearly 18 percent of people with anxiety disorders may attempt suicide, and nearly 39 percent of people with anxiety disorders harbor suicidal thoughts frequently.
Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?
There are several self-assessment tests you can take to help you determine whether or not you suffer from an anxiety disorder. These tests may have questions about the physical symptoms you’ve experienced, such as whether or not your heart frequently feels like it is pounding or whether or not you frequently experience shortness of breath. The tests may also ask you about your fear levels, your ability to relax or how nervous you feel before a panic attack occurs.
Anxiety Medication: Anti-Anxiety Drug Options
Medication can be a very useful tool in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Currently, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the following types of medications are the most common:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Anxiety Drugs: Possible Options
With so many options to choose from, it may seem difficult to make a decision about medication, but your doctor should be able to guide you through this process. Your doctor might try to find a medication that can treat your anxiety as well as any other mental health issues you may have. Your doctor might also encourage you to attend therapy sessions in addition to taking medication.
Medication Side Effects
Unfortunately, there are side effects associated with each of these medications. Depending on the medication your doctor prescribes, you may experience any of the following side effects:
- Lowered libido
- Stomach aches
- Increase heart rate
- Blurry vision
Anti-Anxiety Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal
Unfortunately, it is possible to become dependent on certain drugs. For instance, if you take a medication from the benzodiazepine group, your body may get acclimated to it, and you may need to take higher doses in order for the drug to be effective. In some cases, this can cause dependence. If this occurs, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, and you may need to contact a doctor.
If your doctor prescribes medication to you, it is critical that you follow the dosage instructions carefully. Taking too much of any medication increases your risk of an overdose.
Depression and Anxiety
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may also suffer from depression. In some cases, it may be impossible to distinguish the symptoms of depression from the symptoms of the anxiety disorder. However, a professional can help you treat both issues.
Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Anxiety
Unfortunately, many people with anxiety disorders are at risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you are seeking treatment for an anxiety disorder and also feel like you have a substance abuse problem, try to find a facility that can help you treat both these issues.
Getting Help for an Anxiety Disorder
If you think that you are, or a loved one is, suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should not wait to get help. When you call us at , our representatives will answer your questions and help you locate a treatment facility. The entire process is confidential.
From the outside looking in, it can be difficult to spot the differences between stress and anxiety. Both can lead to sleepless nights, exhaustion, excessive worry, lack of focus, and irritability. Even physical symptoms – like rapid heart rate, muscle tension, and headaches – can impact both people experiencing stress and those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. With symptoms that can appear interchangeable, it can be difficult to know when to work on deep breathing and when to seek professional help.
In short, stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger and is generally a short-term experience. Stress can be positive or negative. When stress kicks in and helps you pull off that deadline you thought was a lost cause, it’s positive. When stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability to do the things you normally do, it’s negative. Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety doesn’t fade into the distance once the threat is mediated. Anxiety hangs around for the long haul, and can cause significant impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning.
Symptoms of Stress
There are a number of emotional and physical disorders linked to stress, including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, strokes, gastrointestinal distress, obesity, and hypertension, to name a few. High levels of stress can wreak havoc on the mind and the body. While stress can manifest in many ways, it helps to know a few common symptoms:
- Frequent headaches
- Sleep disturbance
- Back and/or neck pain
- Feeling light-headed, faint, or dizzy
- Sweaty palms or feet
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent illness
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Excessive worry
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Having difficulty quieting the mind
- Poor concentration
- Low energy
- Loss of sexual desire
Symptoms of stress can vary and change over time. Cueing into your own responses to stress can help you increase awareness of how stress manifests for you. Knowing this vital information will help you learn to use stress reduction techniques at the first signs of stress to avoid long-term repercussions.
Coping with Stress
Learning to cope with stress can require some trial and error. What works for your best friend might not work for you. It’s important to build your own stress reduction toolkit so that you have more than one strategy to implement when stress kicks in.
- Relaxation breathing: The single best thing you can do when under stress is to engage in deep breathing. Practice this strategy when you’re calm so that you know how to use it when you’re under pressure. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. Repeat.
- Practice mindfulness: Sure, there’s an app for that, but the best way to practice mindfulness is to disconnect from your digital world and reconnect with your natural world for a specific period of time each day. Take a walk outside and use the opportunity to notice your surroundings using all of your senses.
- Get moving: Daily exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Making exercise a daily habit can buffer you from negative reactions to stressful events.
- Keep a journal: Writing down your best and worst of the day helps you sort through the obstacles and focus on what went right. It’s normal to experience ups and downs on any given day.
- Get creative: There’s a reason adult coloring books are so popular – they work. Whether you’re drawing, coloring, writing poetry, or throwing paint on a wall, engaging in a creative hobby gives your mind a chance to relax.
- Crank up the tunes: Listening to slow, relaxing music decreases your stress response (just as fast-paced music pumps you up for a run.)
When to Seek Help
If you have difficulty managing stress and it impedes your ability to carry out your normal daily activities (like getting to work on time), talk therapy can help. It’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you.
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Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The defining feature of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety and worry (about a number of events or activities) occurring more days than not for at least six months. The intensity of the anxiety or worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event or events.
Other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include the following:
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
- Exaggerated startle response
- Psychosomatic symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, pins and needles
- Physical symptoms: Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain
- The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting 40 million adults (18% of the population).
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
The two main treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy and medication, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.
- Psychotherapy: Talk therapy is effective in helping people identify, process, and cope with their triggers of anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective, short-term treatment that helps people learn specific skills to target their specific triggers.
- Medication: Antidepressants generally have some mild side effects but help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can be used for an extended period of time. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that can also be used on an ongoing basis. Benzodiazepines can be used on a limited basis to mitigate anxiety symptoms, but they can be habit-forming. All medications should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider. Any side effects should be reported immediately. Never discontinue the use of these medications without supervision from your healthcare provider.
- Lifestyle changes: There are several changes you can make at home before you try medications. Daily exercise, good sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are all home remedies that can decrease symptoms of anxiety.
Everyone experiences periods of increased stress, and sometimes stress can feel overwhelming. It is important to learn how to manage your stress and when to seek help. When stress no longer feels manageable and symptoms of anxiety interfere with your daily living, it’s time to seek an evaluation from a licensed mental health practitioner.
Article Sources Last Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the possibility of having a relapse?
Some people who recover from an anxiety disorder will never experience problems of this nature in the future.
However, there are many people who have recovered from an anxiety disorder who, particularly at vulnerable times in their lives, such as a relationship break up, redundancy or bereavement, may experience a recurrence of their anxiety. This is very common, and can be overcome by recognising the early symptoms and putting into place the self help tools and behavioural techniques that were so effective previously.
You might like to download our relapse prevention pack to help reduce your chance of relapse, you can download it by clicking here. Another thing is to remember not to give yourself a hard time if things do get worse. Anxiety often ebbs and flows and recovery is not always linear. If you do have a bad day, see it as that rather than thinking that you are back to square one. Everyone has blips from time to time – it is part of life. The hard part is getting up the next morning and trying again, but this is the only way to recover from your anxiety.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists have a degree in Psychology and then a three year post graduate doctoral qualification. A Psychiatrist is medically trained as a doctor and then completes a one year Psychological medicine qualification