Overview of Anxiety Disorders
What is anxiety? Anxiety is a normal part of everyday life, and helps us deal with challenges, troubles, dangers, etc. However, for some, this anxiety can be persistent, excessive, overwhelming, and sometimes disabling. It generally greatly interferes with a person’s ability to function. Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term; the most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders. While the symptoms of these anxiety disorders vary, the foundation of all is excessive and irrational fear.
These anxiety disorders have a wide range of anxiety symptoms. They can create persistent and excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things; cause immense, overwhelming, and disabling anxiety attacks; have marked and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation, and/or prevent one from engaging in even the most basic social functions. They are biologically based conditions, more common in women, that affect how one feels, thinks, and acts. If left untreated, they greatly affect one’s family and personal relationships, work and school, sleeping and eating habits, and overall health.
However, know that anxiety therapy and specialized anxiety treatment are very effective, and when treated properly, most anxiety symptoms can be minimized or eliminated. Click here for staff who provide anxiety therapy.
PREVALENCE of ANXIETY DISORDERS- ADULTS
Anxiety disorders is an umbrella term for a variety of treatable mental health disorders, and collectively affect about 18% of adults. Some individuals have more than one anxiety disorder. The general prevalence of these disorders is found below.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): 2-3%
- Specific Phobias: About 7-9%
- Social Anxiety Disorder: About 7%
- Panic Disorder: 2-3%
- Agoraphobia: 1-2%
- Separation Anxiety: 1-2%
- PTSD: About 3-4%
- OCD: About 1%
SIGNS THAT YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE MAY HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER
Below are very brief screening tools for a various of anxiety disorders. If you answer “Yes” to any individual; item, click the blue headline for that disorder to access a more comprehensive anxiety test. If you suspect you may have an anxiety disorder, contact your PCP or obtain anxiety treatment from one of our staff.
- Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge? Y N
- Not being able to stop or control worrying? Y N
- Had recurrent and unexpected panics attacks Y N
- Do you fear or avoid certain things more than most people do? Y N
- Are you scared of specific animals, medical issues or situations? Y N
- Avoided social situations for fear that attention might be on you? Y N
- Been fearful or embarrassed being watched, being the focus of attention, or fearful of being humiliated? Y N
Closely Related to Anxiety Disorders:
- Had recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images that are unwanted, distasteful,
inappropriate, intrusive, or distressing?
- Had nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to? Y N
- Tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of it? Y N
- Were constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled? Y N
- Felt numb or detached from others’ activities or your surroundings? Y N
CAUSES OF ANXIETY
A combination of family genetic history and stressful life events can cause an anxiety disorder. Vulnerability to mental health problems very often run down the family tree. The closer the blood relative, the higher the probability. If one is vulnerable to any of these anxiety disorders, stressful events or lifestyles will likely exacerbate anxiety.
How do you deal anxiety? The three main anxiety disorder treatments are self-management, counseling, and medication. Effective anxiety disorder treatment will often include each of these three approaches.
Self-Management of Anxiety
Wise lifestyle management can help manage anxiety symptoms, and is very effective personalized version of anxiety treatment. Regular exercise, time with loved ones, a regular sleep schedule, avoidance of alcohol and cannabis, healthy eating, etc. can all be helpful in the self-management of an anxiety disorder.
Counseling for Anxiety
Anxiety therapy provided by licensed mental health counselors and psychologist can provide safe, support, and helpful counseling to help you better understand and manage that anxiety disorder. Anxiety therapy and counseling sessions will generally focus on your current concerns and effective ways to treat them, not solely on your childhood or other unrelated issues. (For OCD/anxiety counseling, it is essential to obtain counseling from someone who specializes in this OCD-focused anxiety treatment; it is a very specific treatment model.) To find a counselor to provide specialized anxiety disorder treatment for your anxiety disorder, either ask your primary care provider or click here to learn about Moss Group therapists who provide anxiety treatment.
Medications for Anxiety
Effective medical anxiety treatment most often includes the use of a systemic or short-term anxiety medication in addition to skilled counseling. The type and severity of one’s anxiety disorder will in large part determine the type of anxiety medication first provided. With a mild anxiety disorder, proactive self-management can often be sufficient, and if sufficient, anxiety medication trials can be added. For moderate to severe anxiety disorder, anxiety medication is often needed. For panic disorder, short term anxiety medication, when needed, can sometimes be used to prevent a panic attack from occurring.
Anxiety medications are often very helpful and sometimes transformational. There are several medication options in the provision of comprehensive anxiety treatment, both systemic and short-term (e.g., 3-6 hours). However, one must be patient because everyone reacts differently to medication; it may take time to find the one that works best for your biology. Medications to treat an anxiety disorder include both systemic anxiety medications (e.g., Prozac) and short-term anxiety medications (e.g., Valium/Lorazepam).
Systemic anti-anxiety medications
- Antidepressants are mislabeled; they work equally well with many anxiety disorders. For instance, Prozac was the first “modern” systemic antidepressant, but can work equally well to treat an anxiety disorder, as can other medications in its class. This mislabeling is confusing for many people, and compromises the provision of these very effective medical anxiety treatments.
- They often take a bit of time to work
- They must continue to be taken even after you begin to feel better
- They may sometimes have side effects, which usually improve with time; if not, the medication will be changed.
Short-term anti-anxiety medications
- Benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium, Ativan) are predictably effective short-term anti-anxiety medications often referred to as “tranquilizers.” Sometimes they are taken daily and sometimes taken as needed. However, they can be habit-forming or physically addictive if taken excessively, so ensure you follow your doctor’s advice in using them or ending use of them.
- “Non-benzodiazepine” medications (e.g., Buspar, Neurontin) include a number of antianxiety medications that are benzodiazepine-like in nature, but are a different class of medication. They are often used to supplement systemic anti-anxiety medications and short-term anti-anxiety medications. They generally are not habit-forming, often effective, and sometimes used by individuals who are concerned about their vulnerability to addiction.
To obtain anxiety treatment from our psychiatrists at the Moss Group, one must first meet with a counselor. This counselor will assess you and refer you to psychiatry if clinically appropriate.
ANXIETY TREATMENT WORKS
In sum, anxiety can have devastating effects on the health and quality of your life. It is absolutely treatable, so do not let any stigma about mental health services get in your way. Anxiety treatment works, so do not let any stigma about mental health or mental health services get in your way. Anxiety treatment works, so don’t delay in obtaining services. Begin to build your path to your healthiest self today!
Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
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Call us at 978-835-5000 or email us at the form below to allow us to help you become your “healthiest self.”