What Is An Anxiety Disorder
Severity of symptoms and a persons ability to cope separate everyday worries or anxious moments from anxiety disorders. National surveys estimate nearly one in five Americans over 18, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18, had an anxiety disorder during the past year.
If anxiety is persistent, excessive, or routinely triggered by situations that arent an actual threat, tell your doctor, who can discuss treatment options or refer you to an experienced mental health professional.
Causes And Risk Factors
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or a dangerous situation and its often referred to as the fight or flight response. Its also the most prevalent mental health condition. Anxiety becomes problematic when it is constant or in reaction to inappropriate circumstances, which over time can negatively affect your day-to-day life. In fact, there are a number of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
Causes of anxiety include:
- inability to socialize
Why It’s A Problem
Chronic anxiety can prevent you from meeting your daily responsibilities, at work, at home or socially. It gets in the way of getting along with other people, both meeting new people and maintaining existing relationships, says Jane Timmons-Mitchell, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
The physical effects can be wide-ranging, as well. Anxiety can impact physical health in almost any way you can imagine, Zucker says. It’s very, very powerful. It can contribute to sleeplessness, gastrointestinal difficulties, breathing problems, back pain and cardiovascular disease.
Boost Your Brain Health With Staying Sharp
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Can Anxiety And Depression Be Treated Together
Yes. No one has to suffer from anxiety disorder or depression, and certainly not both. People with anxiety disorder should speak with a psychiatrist, therapist, or other healthcare professional about their symptoms and start treatment as soon as possible. If you suspect you have both anxiety and depression, Connolly recommends getting a thorough evaluation from a psychiatrist as a first step. “It’s really crucial for people with both to have a good assessment to rule out bipolar disorder,” she says.
Important: If you or someone you know needs help coping with anxiety or depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK . The Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text to 741741.
Negative News Distorts Our Thinking
Do not watch the news. If daily news of murder, shooting, car crashes, and theft makes you anxious, you must not watch those programs. Many news programs focus on the negative to get your attention. It is very rare to see news coverage of all the positive things which happen every day.
Follow your doctors advice, and provide feedback on any changes as you work through your treatment plan. While your physician can offer you good advice and helpful medications, it is your responsibility to track your progress and report any problems or issues. Your doctor cant be constantly present and needs your feedback to tailor your treatment.
Pay attention to what you eat. Some foods, such as candy and caffeine, are known to contribute to feelings of anxiety. On the other hand, other foods such as nuts, orange veggies, berries, and yogurt can actually alleviate anxious feelings. If youre having a really hard time on how to fix anxiety issues, then you should write down what youre eating. Make a dedicated effort to change for the better.
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How Can Believing This Myth Make Things Worse
Drugs used to treat the fictitious chemical imbalance produce mixed results. Some people experience a reduction in symptoms, some experience no benefit, and some find their medication makes them feel much worse.
Moreover, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications often lose their effectiveness over time, or worse, cause side effects that linger long after the medication has been discontinued.
Furthermore, its not uncommon for doctors to multiple-medicate in the hopes of finding the right balance between symptom reduction and countering the side effects of all of the medications. These drugs and cocktails can be difficult to come off, and have been shown to have the potential to even cause long-term harm.
Additionally, research has shown that discontinuing anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can be extremely difficult with many people coming off and going back on multiple times during their lifetime.
If these medications arent actually fixing anything real, why delay or permanently stall your recovery by applying the wrong solution to the wrong problem?
Many of our members and therapy clients have had horror stories about their medications, with many having great difficulty breaking free of the very medications their doctors said would help.
Treating a real problem with the wrong solution isnt our idea of a solution.
Sadly, the chemical imbalance theory has been a tragic distraction away from meaningful help that can produce excellent results.
How To Stop Feeling Anxious Right Now
While itâs normal to get nervous about an important event or life change, about 40 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder, which is more than the occasional worry or fear. Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized anxiety disorder , which is intense worrying that you canât control, to panic disorder — sudden episodes of fear, along with heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, or sweating.
For those with an anxiety disorder, itâs important to look into strategies that can help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term, like talk therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress and anxiety with lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and taking time for yourself.
Plus, there are steps you can take the moment when anxiety starts to take hold. Try these 10 expert-backed suggestions to relax your mind and help you regain control of your thoughts.
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Exercise To Combat Stress
Get moving to help reduce your anxiety. After all, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that even just brief walks lasting about 10 minutes may boost mood. It makes sense exercise produces endorphins, chemicals which are your bodys natural painkillers. In turn, youre better able to sleep, which can diminish stress. Exercise can also improve overall cognitive function and reduce fatigue. If you think youd rather watch grass grow than hit the gym, take these tips into consideration to learn to love exercise.
Where To Get Help
For mild to moderate anxiety, these strategies might be enough to manage your symptoms. Still, it’s a good idea to discuss your efforts with your primary doctor, who can make more personalized suggestions about anxiety treatment without medication.
If these strategies don’t work, or if you have severe or worsening anxiety, talk to your doctor immediately. He or she will want to screen you for underlying medical conditions that could contribute to your anxiety. Your doctor might also recommend prescription medications or refer you to a mental health specialist for therapy.
Just remember that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are common and treatable. There’s no shame in seeking help, and nothing to gain by suffering in silence.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gad
GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. People with GAD may:
- Worry very much about everyday things
- Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness
- Know that they worry much more than they should
- Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
- Have a hard time concentrating
- Be easily startled
- The health and well-being of their children
- Being late
- Completing household chores and other responsibilities
Both children and adults with GAD may experience physical symptoms that make it hard to function and that interfere with daily life.
Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and they are often worse during times of stress, such as with a physical illness, during exams at school, or during a family or relationship conflict.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Self
Support from other people is vital to overcoming GAD. Social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and diffuse anxiety, so its important to find someone you can connect with face to face on a regular basisyour significant other, a family member, or a friend, perhaps. This person should be someone you can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually being distracted by the phone or other people.
Build a strong support system. Human beings are social creatures. Were not meant to live in isolation. But a strong support system doesnt necessarily mean a vast network of friends. Dont underestimate the benefit of a few people you can trust and count on to be there for you.
Talk it out when your worries start spiraling. If you start to feel overwhelmed with anxiety, meet with a trusted family member or friend. Just talking face to face about your worries can make them seem less threatening.
Know who to avoid when youre feeling anxious. Your anxious take on life may be something you learned when you were growing up. If your mother is a chronic worrier, she is not the best person to call when youre feeling anxiousno matter how close you are. When considering who to turn to, ask yourself whether you tend to feel better or worse after talking to that person about a problem.
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Play Is What We All Love To Do
Play is where our subconscious naturally guides us.
Play is the state where we are truly ourselves, once we let go of our egos and fear of looking stupid.
Play immerses us in the moment, where we effortlessly slip into flow.
Play allows us to imagine, to create, to bond with and understand each other.
Play is what creates our strongest social circles.
Play gets you around other humans, face-to-face, and allows you to form a real connection with them.
Play allows you to stop taking your life so damn seriously, so you can start living again.
Life was never supposed to feel so serious or scary in the first place!
The people who try to convince you that it has to be that way just arent very good at playing. Theyve forgotten what its like.
So have a laugh, remind them, then go find better playmates.
Everyone is looking for someone to have fun with.
Go out, create your own games, then get others to join in.
Concerned Your Child Is Suffering From Anxiety
Take our 3-minute anxiety assessment to see if he or she could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
And then theres the genetic component. Anxiety disorders do run in families but a family history doesnt mean a child is destined to develop a disorder. Parental behavior can exacerbate and worsen childrens problem but thats not the same as saying that parents are the cause of the child having the problem in the first place, Lebowitz says.
Much depends on the childs innate sensitivity, family dynamics, and life experiences. Some children have a natural predisposition or vulnerability to anxiety or have difficulty regulating their feelings of anxiety and fear. And thats not because their parents did this or didnt do that, stresses Lebowitz, That said, parents can and should play an important role in helping children learn to cope better with their anxiety.
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Myth #: Anxiety Is Caused By A Chemical Imbalance In The Brain
Since the late 1980s, we were told that anxiety disorder, depression, and many other mental illnesses were caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
It was claimed that mental illness, including anxiety disorder, was caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It was also claimed that correcting this imbalance with the right medication would resolve the mental illness.
The persuasion was so convincing that medications recommended to correct this imbalance saw multiple billions of dollars in sales each year. Many of these medications were in the top ten most sold medications year after year.
Yet, the chemical imbalance theory was never proven. It had always been speculated.
After independent research found the chemical imbalance cause for mental illness was false, and after finding medications used to treat this imbalance were largely ineffective, opinions began to change.
Due to pressure from independent research and from mental health professionals who knew mental illness wasnt caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, the chemical imbalance theory was discarded.
In 2011, the chemical imbalance cause for mental illness was officially put to rest by Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times.
So, no, anxiety disorder is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It never was.
You can learn more about the demise of the Chemical Imbalance theory:
A Lack Of Play Should Be Treated Like Malnutrition: Its A Health Risk To Your Body And Mind Stuart Brown
The real problem was my state of mind.Id become increasingly adept at rejecting any form of non-productivity. I couldnt allow any form of play if it didnt contribute to earning money or doing something meaningful.
Even when I was with friends or doing something that was supposed to be fun, I couldnt stop thinking about all the time I was wasting. I wasnt being productive I was losing valuable time. I had to get backto work!
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How To Fix Anxiety Issues And Panic Disorder
Take time to list what stresses you out in life. You can make a column of things you can change, and another column of things you cant. Focus on what you can do, to change what you can, so you dont have to worry about what you cant.
This may sound a little silly, but try doing funny things when youre having a panic attack like dancing around. This is a great way to distract yourself from your thoughts. If you can laugh and relax, then you can stop anxiety from growing. Do whatever is necessary and whatever you are able to do in your present surroundings.
Cut your intake of nicotine and alcohol. Despite the common belief that these substances are relaxing, they arent. In fact, they usually cause more anxiety than you had before. Turn to healthier alternatives like partaking in healthy social activities, using relaxation techniques, or even eating a healthy diet.
What is the best remedy for anxiety? A smile or laugh can make a huge difference in your daily life when it comes to anxiety. Find something to be happy and thankful for. If youre having trouble and feel anxious, laughing about things can really help. This can be a comedy show or maybe a funny song.