Most people have first-hand experience with anxiety. You feel your heart beating fast. You’re full of fear. You’re shaking and sweating. Your breathing is shallow.
Believe it or not … sometimes, that’s actually normal. Anxiety is a reaction that means your body and your mind are anticipating a threat and trying to keep you safe. For example, if you’re driving in an unexpected thunderstorm, you’re probably pretty worried about staying safe. You want to be extra alert, and you want your reactions to be quick. In that case, the white-knuckle anxiety is helping you stay focused on road conditions. When the storm passes, your anxiety fades.
Truthfully, anxiety isn’t all bad.
But too much worry and fear could be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Read on to learn more about anxiety disorders, or skip ahead to the information that you find most helpful. Let’s start with the good news. Anxiety disorders can be improved or eliminated with diagnosis and treatment. Here are some examples of situations when your worry might benefit from treatment:
Anxiety symptoms are happening most days for several weeks or more.
Worry causes you to avoid doing the things you want to do—even simple things like going to work or making a phone call.
Your anxious reaction is out of proportion to the situation.
Anxiety makes you turn to substances like drugs and alcohol.
Anxiety can truly disrupt your life.
And at Eappen Clinic, we know treatment works. We’ve helped people from all walks of life understand their conditions, collaborate on a treatment plan, and follow through on their personal journey to feel well again.
An anxiety disorder is defined by excess worry that is debilitating. In other words, it’s the type of fear or worry that prevents you from doing things that you want to do. It differs from stress-induced, temporary anxiety — such as driving through a thunderstorm — because it keeps happening, it’s more severe than the situation calls for, or it causes problems in daily functioning.
The four common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)Chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
- Panic DisorderUnexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms.
- Social Anxiety DisorderOverwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations.
- PhobiasOverwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations.
As many as 1 out of 3 people are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, making it the most common mental health condition in the world. It can happen to anyone. People with great jobs, nice homes and wonderful families are sometimes baffled when they face an anxiety disorder. They might not realize how common these disorders really are.
Women tend to experience anxiety disorders more than men. About 30% of women have a disorder in their lifetimes, and about 19% of men do.
Most anxiety disorders typically start before early adulthood and can last years if they are left untreated. Disorders are more often diagnosed in women and are most common in middle age.
That said, some types of anxiety can start after a triggering event, such as a traumatizing experience or a major life change. The global coronavirus pandemic, for example, has led to some increase in mental health conditions overall.
Anxiety disorders also arise from childhood adversity and genetic factors. Most often, it’s a combination of these things.
Sometimes people who feel anxious are apprehensive about asking for help or starting treatment. At Eappen Clinic, we understand that taking the first step can seem difficult. We’re here to help you make your treatment experience a partnership that works for you.
Often, the best way to treat an anxiety disorder is by combining medication with therapy.
First-choice medications used to treat anxiety disorders are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Anti-anxiety medications have to be taken daily and often take several weeks to become fully effective. They do not need to be taken for a lifetime.
Medicines used in treatment are not designed for daily use, and they pose risk for dependence, addiction and misuse. Because of these risks, they are used only when symptoms are severe and rapid reduction of anxiety is necessary.
Psychotherapy is treatment that involves talking to a trained behavioral health professional who can guide you toward understanding your anxiety disorder and taking steps to reduce it, manage it or eliminate it completely.
The most effective form of psychotherapy for most anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, the therapist and patient work collaboratively to change patterns of thinking and behavior. Other forms of therapy that are helpful include psychoeducation and supportive therapy.
Most treatment can occur in an office or virtual visit. And our offices are pretty comfortable spaces that make you feel at ease.
Many people find their anxiety disorders to be quite distressing, disruptive and frustrating. As a result, they want to “fix” the condition as soon as possible and make the symptoms disappear.
Behavioral health conditions are always treated over time, allowing you to develop the skills, perspectives or focus you need to refine your thinking and behaviors. It’s just like developing any other skill. It doesn’t happen overnight.
And as noted above, when your treatment includes anti-anxiety medication, it also takes some time for the medication to take effect. In some cases, changing medications to improve response or manage possible side effects is needed.
At Eappen Clinic, we understand many people have “anxiety about anxiety” and want to get well right away. Our goal is to arrive at a good diagnosis and a collaborative treatment plan. That means we work together in partnership with you.
When you reach out, we begin with a few first steps before your initial appointment. That helps us make the most of our time.
We also find those who are self-motivated to feel well again soon are more likely to follow through on treatment plans and see results faster.
Not all anxiety is a disorder, and not all disorders have to be treated. If symptoms are mild or have little impact on normal daily life, other solutions can help. Some people find their own success with deep breathing, meditation videos, exercise, art or getting more sleep.
However, treatment is a good idea if the anxiety affects daily functioning or prevents you from doing things you want to do.
Most treatment for anxiety happens in the office setting or with a virtual visit. However, if the anxiety is causing a person to want to harm themselves or is leading to problems with alcohol or illicit drug use, then a hospital stay might be the best type of treatment.
At Eappen Clinic, we also examine other factors that might be causing anxiety, such as medical conditions or medication that treats other health concerns. Your first appointment with us is a detailed evaluation. At the end of your evaluation, you’ll know the next steps.
Let’s work together to help you feel well again.