Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. For example you may feel anxious or worried for your job interview, before taking a test or before making an important decision. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. However for a person with anxiety disorder it’s more than just a temporary fear or worry, they feel like that most of the time and these worries are intense, persistent and interfere with their normal lives.
Signs and symptoms
You may have anxiety disorder if these signs and symptoms are present for six months or more.
- Sleep problems
- Irrational fears
- Muscle tension
- Chronic indigestion
- Stage fright
- Compulsive behaviors
The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully known. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders or a family history of mental health issues can be a contributing factor in people who are already prone to anxiety.
- Ongoing stressful situations
Ongoing stressful situations – such as job issues or changes, unstable accommodation, family or relationship breakdown and grief. If you have experienced physical, sexual or verbal abuse, life threatening events or pregnancy and childbirth, you may be at risk.
- Physical health issues
Physical health issues can be the underlying cause of anxiety disorders. There can be anxiety links for people who have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or hormonal issues, such as thyroid problems. Sometimes anxiety symptoms are the first indication of a physical health issue.
- Substance abuse
Substance abuse – particularly cannabis, amphetamines, alcohol and sedatives – can trigger anxiety symptoms. Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can also cause withdrawal-related anxiety.
Caffeine, as well as some non-prescription and herbal medicines, can sometimes cause anxiety symptoms.
- Personality types
Personality types – such as being a perfectionist, having low self-esteem or the need to be in control – can make people more susceptible to anxiety.
Therapies for Anxiety Disorders
Abnormal anxiety affects a significant portion of the population, but the good news is that many treatments are available to help. Depending on the specific cause of the anxiety disorder as well as on the patient’s preferences, the treatment method may include behavioral therapy, physical therapy, counseling and medications. As a rule, the treatment is aimed at reducing the symptoms related to anxiety and assisting patients in getting back to normal life.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, one in eight children is affected by an anxiety disorder. Your child doesn’t need to suffer alone anymore. If you think your son or daughter has an anxiety disorder, find out more about treatment options by calling 1-888-997-3147.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for GAD. Studies of different treatments for GAD have found that the benefits of CBT may last longer than those of medication, but no single treatment is best for everyone.
CBT helps you to understand how your problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect each other. It can also help you to question your negative and anxious thoughts, and do things you would usually avoid because they make you anxious.
CBT usually involves meeting with a specially trained and accredited therapist for a one-hour session every week for three to four months
Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but often relieves symptoms. Medication can only be prescribed by a medical doctor (such as a psychiatrist or a primary care provider), but a few states allow psychologists to prescribe psychiatric medications.
Medications are sometimes used as the initial treatment of an anxiety disorder, or are used only if there is insufficient response to a course of psychotherapy. In research studies, it is common for patients treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication to have better outcomes than those treated with only one or the other.
The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers (visit Mental Health Medications). Be aware that some medications are effective only if they are taken regularly and that symptoms may recur if the medication is stopped.
There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop generalized anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you experience anxiety:
- Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health professional identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
- Prioritize issues in your life. You can reduce anxiety by carefully managing your time and energy.
- Avoid unhealthy substance use. Alcohol and drug use and even nicotine or caffeine use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you’re addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see your doctor or find a treatment program or support group to help you.