Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. This is a common emotion to experience when giving a speech, making important decisions or taking a test. An anxiety disorder is much more than feeling anxious when faced with these scenarios. In someone suffering from an anxiety disorder, fears, irrational dread and anxiety can become overwhelming. Anxiety in the patient is uncontrollable and so disabling that it can interfere with a sufferer’s daily activities.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
There are several psychological issues that are encompassed in the term – anxiety disorder. These include phobias, selective mutism, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, panic attacks, panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders cause unrealistic worry and persistent thoughts that cannot be controlled. Sufferers often expect the worse and anticipate disaster at every turn. In order to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the patient must experience these feelings and symptoms for more than half of the days within a six-month period.
According to the Anxiety Centre, the National Institute of Mental Health states that anxiety disorders plague approximately 18 percent of American adults; however, many current estimates believe this total to be more like 30 percent due to misdiagnoses and those who do not seek help.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety causes both psychological and physical symptoms. The symptoms can get so bad that it can interfere with day to day life and cause problems in school, on the job and within relationships. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.
Panic, fear or unease Sleep difficulty Cold, sweaty hands Shortness of breath and heart palpitations Nausea Muscle tension Concentration issues
Risk Factors Associated with Anxiety Disorders
Researchers have found that both environmental factors and genetics can increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Shyness and exposure to stressful events in childhood, being widowed or divorced and elevated afternoon cortisol levels in the afternoon. Females, those who are economically disadvantaged, those who have a family history of anxiety disorders or other mental disorders are at an increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
According to WebMD, anxiety disorders may be the result of a malfunction in the brain circuits that regulate emotions. Long term stress, as well as trauma, can change how nerves transmit information to different areas of the brain and cause anxiety disorders to occur.
How is an Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?
If an anxiety is suspected, a doctor will get a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. If there are no physical causes for the symptoms a patient is experiencing, the patient will be referred to a mental health professional (psychologist or psychiatrist). This mental health professional will use assessment tools and specially designed questions to help determine if the patient is suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Treatment Options For Anxiety Disorders
Over the last 20 years, great strides have been made in the treatment of mental illnesses. The treatment approach used will depend on the symptoms, the disorder and the person. Some of the options include:
- Prescription medications – There are several medications that can help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders, including antidepressants, low dose antipsychotic medications and anticonvulsant drugs.
- Functional Medicine - Our functional medicine practitioners do a comprehensive evaluation and will evaluate your symptoms and help identify the root causes of anxiety or depression. We will work with you to help develop a holistic approach to address your physical and emotional ailments.
- Homeopathy – Homeopathy uses elements in nature to help heal the body, mind and spirit through minuscule, diluted doses. Homeopathic remedies for anxiety can help ease nervousness without any harmful side effects or addictions. A recent study found that homeopathic treatments can improve social phobias and panic disorders in sixty percent of its participants.
Anxiety disorder affects millions of men, women and children every year. Anxiety disorders cause so much fear that sufferers are unable to perform day to day tasks and it may cause relationship issues. If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, it is important to get help as waiting can cause anxiety symptoms to escalate. There are many treatment options out there to help you overcome your anxiety.
Empower yourself to achieve your optimum health by scheduling an appointment today.