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Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders – what you should know

Anxiety is a natural feeling of fear and nervousness created by the human (and other living creatures) response to stress and in some situations can be beneficial by increasing activation and alerting us to danger.

Anxiety is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior while fear is more associated with the fight or flight reaction – in which we either remain to fight or we escape the situation.

It’s a very common feeling that everyone experiences in response to stressful and frightening situations and can range from mild and therefore easier to handle all the way to extreme forms of anxiety – which can when excessive be deemed an anxiety disorder. What can be called ordinary anxiety can occur in response to familial, relationship, financial and other stressors and though unpleasant does not impede with living.

While anxiety is a normal reaction to stress anxiety disorders however involve excessive and debilitating fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are more severe, debilitating and can be chronic.

woman with anxiety

Frequency and Types of Anxiety Disorders

In fact anxiety disorders are the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders with almost 30 percent of US adults receiving that diagnosis at least once in their lives.

However the frequency may be much higher than that as many cases go undiagnosed and estimates indicate over 20% of people annually suffer from:

and about 20-22 % of the population with women being more frequently affected and types of anxiety disorders include:

In order to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, fear/anxiety must:

  • Be out of proportion to the situation (or age inappropriate)
  • Hinder ones ability to function normally

Anxiety Disorders – Types

There are 5 major types of Anxiety Disorders:

  • social anxiety disorder 7%
  • panic disorder – 2-3%
  • agoraphobia – 2%
  • generalized anxiety disorder – 2%
  • separation anxiety disorder – 1-2%

Specific Phobias – e.g. fear of flying or spiders

At any one time about 7-9% of the population suffers from specific phobias.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

At any one time about 2% of the population suffers from generalized anxiety disorder.

Panic Disorder

At any one time about 2% of the population suffers from generalized anxiety disorder.

Agoraphobia

Social Anxiety Disorder (previously called social phobia)

Separation Anxiety Disorder

risk factors for anxiety

Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders

The causes of anxiety disorders are currently unknown but likely involve a combination of factors including genetic, environmental, psychological and developmental. Anxiety disorders can run in families, suggesting that a combination of genes and environmental stresses can produce the disorders.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

The first step is to see your doctor to make sure there is no physical problem causing the symptoms. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, a mental health professional can work with you on the best treatment. Unfortunately, many people with anxiety disorders don’t seek help. They don’t realize that they have an illness that has effective treatments.

Although each anxiety disorder has unique characteristics, most respond well to two types of treatment: psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” and medications. These treatments can be given alone or in combination. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, can help a person learn a different way of thinking, reacting and behaving to help feel less anxious. Medications will not cure anxiety disorders, but can give significant relief from symptoms.

The most commonly used medications are anti-anxiety medications (generally prescribed only for a short period of time) and antidepressants. Beta-blockers, used for heart conditions, are sometimes used to control physical symptoms of anxiety.

managing anxiety and depressionSelf-Help, Coping, and Managing

There are a number of things people do to help cope with symptoms of anxiety disorders and make treatment more effective. Stress management techniques and meditation can be helpful. Support groups (in-person or online) can provide an opportunity to share experiences and coping strategies. Learning more about the specifics of a disorder and helping family and friends to understand better can also be helpful. Avoid caffeine, which can worsen symptoms, and check with your doctor about any medications.

It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.

This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

Anxiety is a key part of several different disorders. These include:

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.

Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.

Symptoms of general anxiety include:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep

Your anxiety symptoms might be totally different from someone else’s. That’s why it’s important to know all the ways anxiety can present itself. 

What is an anxiety attack?

An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. For many people, an anxiety attack builds slowly. It may worsen as a stressful event approaches.

Anxiety attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. That’s because the many symptoms of anxiety don’t happen to everyone, and they can change over time.

Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • shortness of breath
  • dry mouth
  • sweating
  • chills or hot flashes
  • apprehension and worry
  • restlessness
  • distress
  • fear
  • numbness or tingling

What are treatments for anxiety?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, you can to explore treatment options with your doctor. For some people, medical treatment isn’t necessary. Lifestyle changes may be enough to cope with the symptoms.

In moderate or severe cases, however, treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.

Treatment for anxiety falls into two categories: psychotherapy and medication. Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with anxiety when it occurs.

Medications typically used to treat anxiety include antidepressants and sedatives. They work to balance brain chemistry, prevent episodes of anxiety, and ward off the most severe symptoms of the disorder.

What natural remedies are used for anxiety?

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relive some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditating
  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • staying active and working out
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes
  • biofeedback
  • aromatherapy
  • progressive muscle relaxation
  • yoga

Anxiety and depression

If you have an anxiety disorder, you may also be depressed. While anxiety and depression can occur separately, it’s not unusual for these to mental health disorders to happen together.

Anxiety can be a symptom of clinical or major depression. Likewise, worsening symptoms of depression can be triggered by an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of both conditions can be managed with many of the same treatments: psychotherapy (counseling), medications, and lifestyle changes.

How to help children with anxiety

Anxiety in children is natural and common. In fact, one in eight children will experience anxiety. As children grow up and learn from their parents, friends, and caretakers, they typically develop the skills to calm themselves and cope with feelings of anxiety.

But, anxiety in children can also become chronic and persistent, developing into an anxiety disorder. Uncontrolled anxiety may begin to interfere with daily activities, and children may avoid interacting with their peers or family members.

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder might include:

  • jitteriness
  • irritability
  • sleeplessness
  • feelings of fear
  • shame
  • feelings of isolation

Anxiety treatment for children includes cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy) and medications. 

teens with anxiety

How to help teens with anxiety

Teenagers may have many reasons to be anxious. Tests, college visits, and first dates all pop up in these important years. But teenagers who feel anxious or experience symptoms of anxiety frequently may have an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety in teenagers may include nervousness, shyness, isolationist behaviors, and avoidance. Likewise, anxiety in teens may lead to unusual behaviors. They may act out, perform poorly in school, skip social events, and even engage in substance or alcohol use.

For some teens, depression may accompany anxiety. Diagnosing both conditions is important so that treatment can address the underlying issues and help relieve symptoms.

The most common treatments for anxiety in teenagers are talk therapy and medication. These treatments also help address depression symptoms. Weed.com strongly discourages underage use of cannabis.

In summary

Anxiety disorders can be treated in many ways and can include cannabis or cbd but other modalities such as mediation exercise and therapy should also be considered.

More severe anxiety which becomes life debilitating are classified as anxiety disorders and mental health attention should strongly considered.

Anxiety and Anxiety disorders are manageable under proper treatment.

Sources: https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html

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