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Anxiety Disorders: Understanding and Managing Anxiety

We all experience feelings of anxiety from time to time, because … well, some situations in life are legitimately scary and nerve racking! Driving in heavy traffic, walking alone at night, job interviews, first dates … These are just a few examples of common situations that can make our hearts pound and turn our stomachs into world-class gymnasts. Although uncomfortable, it is perfectly normal. These types of anxiety-inducing situations are usually chock full of life lessons and skill building opportunities. They challenge us to face our fears and help us to build confidence. We learn that when we are brave enough to work through our fear, we are generally rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration. So, for most of us, anxiety is situational and temporary - but not for all. 

What Is An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorders are the #1 mental health concern in the United States today. 

In the U.S., over 19% of adults (40+ million) and 7% of children have an anxiety disorder – meaning they experience persistent, excessive fear or worry in non-threatening situations. For these individuals, feelings of intense fear and distress can become so overwhelming that it prevents them from engaging in everyday activities. And, unfortunately, anxiety disorders are on the rise. 



Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders     

There are different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, PTSD, specific phobias, and more. Each type has their own unique set of symptoms. However, individuals usually experience one or more of the following symptoms. 

Physical symptoms

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches 
  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia 
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea 
  • Trouble concentrating

Emotional symptoms: 

  • Constant worry without cause
  • Irrational or unexplainable fear in situations posing no danger
  • Feelings of apprehension or dread 
  • Feeling nervous, tense or jumpy 
  • Restlessness or irritability 

Causes of Anxiety Disorders 

Researchers believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including;

  • Genetics. A history of anxiety or other mental disorders in biological relatives.
  • Life events. Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, such as physical or sexual abuse, loss of a loved one, etc.
  • Brain Chemistry. 50% of people with a depressive disorder have been found to also have a co-occurring anxiety disorder.
  • Medical Conditions. Some medical conditions have been associated with anxiety disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, respiratory disorders, chronic pain, and substance abuse and withdrawal.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

If you, or a loved one, are having trouble controlling chronic symptoms of anxiety, professional care is recommended. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and most people can find relief with the help of a mental health or medical professional. Anxiety Disorders typically worsen if left untreated.

The most common types of anxiety disorder treatments include one or more of the following;

Therapy. A variety of mental health therapies have proven useful in treating anxiety disorders including, psychotherapy (talk therapy), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Medication. The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and beta-blockers.

Stress Management Techniques. Stress management techniques, such as exercise, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, can also reduce anxiety symptoms.

Acupuncture. The Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body at specific points to manipulate the body's flow of energy is also showing promise in treating anxiety disorders.



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