Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness because of the sheer volume of people they affect—an estimated 40 million Americans struggle with the condition throughout the country. Fortunately, anxiety treatment is common and highly effective. Still, only an estimated 39.6 percent of the 40 million who struggle will get the help they need, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Individuals struggling with anxiety disorders are five times more likely to visit a doctor and six times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for psychiatric disorders than those who do not struggle with the condition. Anxiety has the potential to develop from highly complex risk factors, including personality, genetics, life events, and brain chemistry.
Anxiety goes hand in hand with depression, and someone struggling with one of these conditions is likely to experience the other. An estimated 50 percent of those diagnosed with anxiety will be diagnosed with depression. The numbers also show that generalized anxiety disorder currently affects 6.8 million adults, translating to 3.1 percent of the entire U.S. population. Unfortunately, only 43.2 percent of that figure is actively getting the anxiety treatment they need.
Treating someone with anxiety will depend on various factors, including their personal preferences if they’re struggling with alcohol dependence, depression, or other conditions linked to anxiety. In some cases, treating an anxiety disorder means managing other underlying conditions to seek the relief they desire.
Familiarizing yourself with developing anxiety symptoms and taking the necessary precautions to manage anxiety without medical treatment is the first step. If you don’t see a reduction in symptoms or if they’re severe, other anxiety treatment options are available to you.
What is Anxiety?
Experiencing anxiety on occasion is normal, and you may get anxious at work before a big meeting or before an exam in school. However, anxiety disorders are more than temporary fear or worry you might experience. A person experiencing an anxiety disorder will notice their symptoms interfering with daily activities, such as school, work, or relationships. The symptoms will gradually worsen over time without anxiety treatment.
As mentioned above, there are various types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, phobia-related disorders, and panic disorder. The most common signs and symptoms will be discussed below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A person struggling with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) will display symptoms of excessive worry or anxiety on most days for a period of at least six months. It may relate to their personal health, social interactions, work, and everyday routine life circumstances. The anxiety and fear may create issues in areas of their life, including school, work, or social interactions.
The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Easily fatigued
- Restless, wound-up, or on-edge
- Difficulty concentrating – mind going blank
- Unable to control their feelings of worry
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems, including falling asleep or staying asleep, unsatisfying sleep, or restlessness
Someone with panic disorder will experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear that comes on quickly and peaks within a few minutes. These attacks will occur unexpectedly or be brought on by specific triggers, such as a situation or feared object.
During a panic attack, someone could experience:
- Trembling or shaking
- Heart palpitations, including an accelerated heart rate or pounding heartbeat
- Feelings of impending doom
- Shortness of breath, choking or smothering.
- Feeling like you’re out of control
Someone struggling with panic disorder will worry about when the next attack might occur and actively work to prevent a future attack. They do this by avoiding situations, places, or behaviors that are associated with these panic attacks. It could lead to developing agoraphobia, a phobia-related disorder.
A phobia, by definition, is an intense fear of a specific object or situation. It may be realistic to feel anxiety in certain circumstances, but the fear someone with phobias feels is entirely out of proportion to the danger caused by the object or situation. Someone with a phobia will:
- Take steps to avoid the feared situation or object
- Have an irrational worry about encountering the feared situation or object
- Endure these objects or situation with extreme anxiety
- Experience anxiety upon encountering the situation or object
There are specific phobias that include a fear of:
- Specific animals
- Receiving an injection
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
Fortunately, anxiety treatment exists that consists of medication or specific therapy designed to help you live with your fears or better manage your life. Below, we will delve into some of the techniques available to you.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to manage your anxiety symptoms at home. This may be limited to less severe symptoms of anxiety, however. Trained professionals can recommend specific exercises and techniques designed to cope with anxiety, including:
You must limit possible triggers by managing stress levels, and you must monitor pressures and deadlines. Also, you need to organize tasks with to-do lists and take off time from your educational or professional obligations. Without a healthy mind, we are unable to function at a high-level.
Specific techniques may reduce the signs of anxiety, including deep-breathing exercises, long baths, meditation, yoga, and resting in the dark.
Exercises that Replace Negative Thoughts
You must make a list of adverse thoughts you may be experiencing, and then make a list of positive feelings you wish to have. If you can follow this and face a specific fear, you will provide therapeutic benefits by getting to the root of the stress.
Confiding in a friend or family member may help more than you think. Try to avoid suppressing your feelings of anxiety that may intensify your anxiety disorder.
Counseling and Therapy for Anxiety Treatment
The standard format to treat anxiety involves therapy and psychological counseling, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The primary objective of CBT is to overcome harmful thought patterns that intensify an anxiety disorder. Limiting these thoughts will change the scale of intensity of the reactions to these stressors.
Medications for Anxiety Treatment
There are several types of medications that can be used to support the treatment of anxiety disorders. These medicines have the potential to control mental and physical symptoms of anxiety, and they include:
Unfortunately, some are more prone than others to deal with anxiety. While anxious feelings accompany us all at some point, we will not have to struggle with anxiety at its worst. There are methods, however, to reduce the risk of an anxiety disorder. These include:
- Consuming less soda, tea, chocolate, and caffeine
- Follow a balanced diet
- Avoid marijuana, alcohol, or recreational drugs
- Normal sleeping patterns