What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a health condition that is most commonly experienced by people. Excessive anxiety is characterized by nervousness, agitation, fear, worry, and apprehension. All these alter a person’s behavior and even manifest as physical symptoms. When this mental condition causes bodily harm, it can be quite difficult to carry on everyday tasks and also hard to lead a happy and healthy life. This condition has become so common that almost 40 million Americans are experiencing it on a day-to-day basis. Though the number of people suffering from the condition is so many, only 36.9% go for treatment.
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, thoughts of worry, and changes in the physical health of the individual. To differentiate between feelings of normal anxiety and anxiety disorder requires medical attention. Only then can the expert determine how bad the condition is and the right type of treatment will be administered.
When does one know that their anxiety condition requires treatment?
Untreated anxiety can cause physical distress too when it has become quite severe. A person generally experiences anxiety when they face potentially harming or worrying triggers. Anxiety is necessary and it is an instinct that has helped humans to survive for so long.
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety
During the primitive human era, anxiety conditions were experienced when a predator approached and at the sign of incoming danger. The signs of anxiety were noticeably visible such as increased sweating, raised hair, and increased heartbeat. These physical responses are due to the adrenaline, a hormonal and chemical messenger coursing through that instructs the brain whether the ‘fight or flight’ in the situation.
Though humans have evolved, some things still remain the same and one such example is this ‘fight or flight response that helps humans to understand the environment they are in and react accordingly.
High levels of anxiety:
Though anxiety is essential for human survival, when experienced at excessive levels it can turn into a disorder. When one is experiencing anxiety disorder conditions, they may experience anxiety in a proportion that is not suitable for their current condition. Having such high levels of anxiety can cause symptoms such as feeling restless, feeling a constant state of worry, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleeping difficulties.
There are various types of anxiety and the symptoms of each type vary according to the trigger of the individual. The most common types of anxiety disorders are Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias such as agoraphobia, and selective mutism in children
How to treat anxiety?
Treatments for anxiety are usually a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication. The mental well-being of those regularly consuming alcohol will have anxiety effects that are quite severe when compared to the rest. Anxiety is not a disorder in itself but arises due to the effect of underlying conditions such as stress or worry. That is what the treatments aim to make right, to reduce and manage stress levels in the patient.
Mild levels of anxiety can be treated at home, clinical supervision is not mandatory. Though effective in the short term, this method is often not recommended for treating anxiety conditions. Anxiety Treatment at home consists of performing activities related to the person coping and managing stress, getting them more focused on the task at hand.
The following techniques can be followed for short-treatment of anxiety,
Learning to manage your stress is an essential part of managing your anxiety. By doing so one can limit their reaction to potential triggers, organize upcoming tasks and deadlines, and compile a list of tasks that are more manageable. Try to balance your time between work and your social life.
Performing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, long baths, and yoga helps soothe the mind and body thereby reducing both the physical and the mental symptoms of anxiety.
The exercises in mention are those that are performed to replace the negative and worrisome thoughts running through your mind and replace them with calm and positive ones. By creating a successful image in your mind you work to conquer any fears, specifically the ones that trigger your anxiety.
It is one of the common methods employed for the treatment of anxiety conditions. The most recommended ones are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and various other therapy combinations.
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that aims to control and manage the thoughts of the person experiencing anxiety. It recognizes and changes any harmful thought patterns that are the main reason for anxiety triggers.
Specialists process these negative thoughts thereby changing the way how patients react to objects or situations that can trigger their condition.
In certain cases, patients suffering from extreme anxiety conditions are recommended medication to treat their condition. The most commonly prescribed ones that control some of the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety are benzodiazepines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and tricyclics.
Though benzodiazepines are highly effective, they are not prescribed for more than a particular period due to their addictive nature. The common side effects that occur due to the usage of benzodiazepines are drowsiness and dependence. Therefore, these medications should be taken only as prescribed by your doctor.
Taking dosage amounts higher than what is prescribed can lead to addiction in the long run. Benzodiazepines come along with a medication guide that contains all the necessary information regarding its correct usage, dodge, and the side effects of the medication. Avoid taking them with alcohol and do not consume them in combination with other medication.
Though antidepressants play a major role in treating depression, they also have a part to play in reducing anxiety conditions too. The most commonly used antidepressants are SSRIs which have very less side effects when compared to those various other medications in the class. Taking the right medication is necessary and the side effects of the wrong ones can lead to jitters, sexual dysfunction, and nausea once the treatment commences.
These medications are older than SSRIs and are beneficial for treating anxiety and anxiety disorder conditions except OCD. The side effects that occur due to taking tricyclics are drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, and sudden weight gain. If your anxiety does not improve or they become worse, seek immediate medical attention.
How do I prevent anxiety?
There are numerous ways to reduce anxiety conditions. Keep in mind that anxiety is a normal human emotion and it is okay to experience them as a part of daily life. Not all anxiety feelings are symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Practice the following methods for mild to moderate anxiety conditions,
- Avoid consumption of too much caffeine
- Consult your doctor before you start any kind of medication, be it herbs or supplements
- Healthy diet
- Proper sleep
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, cannabis, and other recreational drugs should be avoided