Anxiety is recognized as one of the most common and most treatable mental health disorders – affecting over 40 million adults in the United States. Anxiety disorders encompass a broad category of specific disorders that include:
- RPanic Disorders
- RSocial Anxiety
- RObsessive Compulsive DIsorder (OCD)
- RGeneralized Anxiety Disorder
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is characterized by excessive fear and worry. These disorders can cause significant distress and impairment in a person’s daily life, and can affect their ability to work, go to school, and maintain relationships. People with anxiety often feel like their lives are spiraling out of control. Untreated anxiety impacts both physical and mental wellbeing.
Common symptoms of anxiety are:
- Feeling nervous
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Feeling powerless
- Increased heart rate and/or palpitations
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Numbness or tingling in body
- Feeling weak or tired
- Feeling spacy or dizzy, sensations of “unrealness”
- Trouble concentrating or thinking of anything other than worry thoughts
In addition to physical symptoms, anxiety can also cause emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability or restlessness
- Difficulty making decisions
- Avoidance of situations that may cause anxiety
Treatment for Anxiety
The treatment for anxiety disorders typically involves a combination of therapy and medication. The specific type of therapy and medication used will depend on the individual and the severity of their disorder. Some common types of therapy for anxiety disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Medications that may be used to treat anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, and beta blockers. These medications work by altering the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which can help reduce anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation have also been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms.
It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for your anxiety disorder. Your provider will consider your individual symptoms and needs, and recommend a combination of therapy and medication that is most likely to be effective for you.
It is important to seek treatment for an anxiety disorder as soon as possible in order to reduce the symptoms and improve the person’s quality of life. Working with a mental health professional can help individuals develop coping strategies and learn how to manage their anxiety in a healthy way.
In addition to therapy and medication, there are also several self-care strategies that can help individuals manage their anxiety. These can include things like:
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and drugs
- Getting enough sleep
- Connecting with others and building a supportive social network
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a specific type of anxiety disorder. OCD is characterized by persistent and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that a person feels driven to perform. These obsessions and compulsions can cause significant distress and interfere with a person’s daily life. For example, a person with OCD may have an obsession with germs and feel the need to wash their hands repeatedly to reduce their anxiety.
OCD is a chronic condition that can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Therapy with a counselor trained in treating anxiety can help individuals learn to manage their obsessions and compulsions. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be effective in managing OCD symptoms.
Overall, OCD is a type of anxiety disorder that can cause significant distress and impairment. With proper treatment, however, individuals with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling and productive lives.