Anxiety is one of the most prevalent issues in America today. Looked at as a group of disorders that include obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder, approximately 18 percent of Americans are diagnosed with some sort of anxiety-related illness. At the same time, the symptoms of anxiety can often be suffered in silence and lead individuals to feel hopeless and alone. Multiple treatment options have been developed to tackle these symptoms, however, providing paths toward recovery for many.
It can be difficult for the layperson to make a distinction between healthy levels of anxiety and a true anxiety disorder. That is why it is important for individuals to visit with a professional to determine what they are suffering from. When meeting with a psychologist or counselor, individuals can discuss symptoms like panic attacks, racing thoughts and insomnia. Through diagnostic tests and questionnaires, patients can determine what treatment approach makes the most sense for them.
Types of Disorders
Anxiety is an issue that can play a part in many other mental illnesses. Many phobias, social anxieties and/or panic attacks can also run concurrent with anxiety issues. A panic attack is when an individual suddenly feels terrified for no specific cause. This can often come along with physical symptoms like chest pain, sweating and the feeling of choking. These symptoms can be very disturbing and often are the impetus for individuals to seek professional help. Social anxiety can result in an inability to be around others without overwhelming worry and/or tension. Individuals with social anxiety have difficulty beginning or maintaining healthy relationships with others. A phobia is focused anxieties on specific places, objects, animals or events. Of course, many individuals have anxiety or fear associated with things like riding on airplanes, dogs or elevators. Once this anxiety has gotten in the way of your normal life, though, it can be considered a phobia.
There are two main types of treatment options presented to patients diagnosed with some form of anxiety — psychiatric medication and psychological treatment. A variety of medications can be used, including SSRI's, benzodiazepines, buspirone, and some antiseizure medications. Psychological therapy has been found to be more effective in the treatment of anxiety than medication, however. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most successful forms of therapy. This therapy focuses on examining the thoughts that cause specific emotions to arise and taking steps to retrain the mind into shifting those thoughts in a positive way. Many studies have also shown that learning coping techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, exercise and creative expression, can have a very positive effect on anxiety.
More likely than not, there is someone in your life who suffers from an anxiety disorder. It may even be an issue you've struggled with yourself. Increased understanding and awareness regarding the symptoms and treatment options for this disorder is the best way to reduce the effects of it and start on the path of healing. To learn more, there are a wide variety of resources available on the web as well as at your local mental health clinic.