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Is Anxiety Disorder A Mental Illness

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder NP Mental Health Continuing Education

Each day, many people struggle with worry, tension and nervousness which are common signs of anxiety. But there is good news! Some forms of anxiety have very little effect on ones personal or work life whereas others can be managed and even prevented with the right treatment, support and self-care.

What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

The different types of anxiety disorders can have different symptoms. But they all have a combination of:

  • Anxious thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control. They make you feel restless and tense and interfere with your daily life. They do not go away and can get worse over time.
  • Physical symptoms, such as a pounding or rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath
  • Changes in behavior, such as avoiding everyday activities you used to do

Using caffeine, other substances, and certain medicines can make your symptoms worse.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic and distressing and that interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:

  • Panic or anxiety attacks or a fear of these attacks
  • Physical anxiety reactions for example trembling, sweating, faintness, rapid heartbeat, difficulties breathing or nausea
  • Avoidance behaviour a person may go to extreme lengths to avoid a situation that they think could bring on anxiety or panic.

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When Should I Go To The Emergency Room For An Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can resemble symptoms of a heart attack or another health emergency. If youre experiencing an anxiety attack for the first time, or youre concerned in any way about your health, call 911 or head to the nearest ER. A healthcare provider will check you for serious or life-threatening conditions.

If youre having an anxiety attack and unsure whether you should head to an ER or not, its better to go. Healthcare professionals can make sure youre OK and give you any necessary treatment.

Causes Of Anxiety Disorders

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If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, drug therapy or psychotherapy Psychotherapy Extraordinary advances have been made in the treatment of mental illness. As a result, many mental health disorders can now be treated nearly as successfully as physical disorders. Most treatment… read more , alone or in combination, can significantly relieve the distress and dysfunction for most people. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for acute anxiety. For many people, antidepressants, Drug Therapy Extraordinary advances have been made in the treatment of mental illness. As a result, many mental health disorders can now be treated nearly as successfully as physical disorders. Most treatment… read more such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , work as well for anxiety disorders as they do for depression. Specific treatments depend on which anxiety disorder is diagnosed.

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So Is Anxiety A Mental Illness

Research and treatment protocols have stated the answer. In short, anxiety is NOT a mental disorder that needs to have thorough treatment. Instead, it is the result of day-to-day factors that aggravate a behavior and particular ways of thinking in an individual.

This behavioral issue can be treated by implementing behavioral modifications, vigilant support and sometimes, pharmacological relaxants. People suffering from anxiety shouldnt worry about suffering from an irreversible disease.

Anxiety is readily reversible, you just need to have the right state of mind and added encouragement to reverse it.

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Stick To A Regular Sleep Schedule

  • Establish a regular, consistent time for sleeping and waking.
  • Do something relaxing before going to sleep like reading or taking a warm bath.
  • Dont use the bedroom for non-sleep activities .
  • Avoid strenuous exercise, caffeine, alcohol or tobacco a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid naps during the day. Get outdoors for some activity to refresh.
  • Talk to a health care provider about using a sleep medication.

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Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. The most common form of treatment is a combination of drug therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy .

Because most anxiety disorders have some biological basis, the most common drugs prescribed are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

CBT involves helping people to turn their anxious thoughts and feelings into more rational ones. Sometimes people will benefit from being exposed in a controlled way to the object and situation they fear. Some CBT techniques have been developed to deal with specific disorders. For example, people with panic disorder can benefit from learning new breathing and meditation techniques, which can help them deal with their anxiety.

Support groups and learning more about the disorder can also help a great many people deal with anxiety disorders. Involving family and friends who are also affected by the disorder, can help people recover or learn how to cope with their condition.

The most important first step in treatment is to get a proper diagnosis from a specialist in anxiety disorders. Many people suffer for 10 years or more before getting the right treatment.

Is Crying A Symptom Of Anxiety

Mental Health Minute: Anxiety Disorders in Adults

A 2016 study found that people with anxiety are more likely to find crying irrepressible though helpful in relieving their stress. Crying, however, is not usually a symptom of anxiety. Crying can be an indicator of fatigue and exhaustion, which are symptoms of anxiety. Other common symptoms of anxiety include chest pain, flushed skin, fast heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

To learn more, check out our piece, Different Types of Anxiety Disorders.

If you believe you are living with an anxiety disorder or other mental illness, contact a licensed therapist for a diagnosis. You can also consider various treatment options and coping tactics for anxiety. They generally involve a combination of addressing beliefs that cause anxiety and practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and meditation.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated

An anxiety disorder is like any other health problem that requires treatment. You cant will it away. Its not a matter of self-discipline or attitude. Researchers have made a lot of progress in the last few decades in treating mental health conditions. Your healthcare provider will tailor a treatment plan that works for you. Your plan may combine medication and psychotherapy.

How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:

  • Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
  • Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
  • Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
  • Is treatable.

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Continuous Social And Economic Pressure

Having limited financial means or belonging to a marginalized or persecuted ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders.

A 2015 study of 903 families in Iran identified several socioeconomic causes of mental health conditions, including poverty and living on the outskirts of a large city.

The researchers also explained the difference in the availability and quality of mental health treatment for certain groups in terms of modifiable factors, which can change over time, and nonmodifiable factors, which are permanent.

Modifiable factors for mental health disorders include:

  • socioeconomic conditions, such whether work is available in the local area
  • occupation

Anxiety Starts Before Depression

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As in the example above, untreated anxiety can produce behaviors that increase the risk of depression. This pathway is the most common progression. Studies show that anxiety disorders usually begin during preadolescence and adolescence. Major depression, on the other hand, more commonly appears during adolescence and young adulthood.

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Why Anxiety Is A Real Mental Illness

Perhaps this is a good place to mention that the official term for any diagnosable mental health challenge is actually mental disorder rather than mental illness, although mental illness is a term used frequently by almost everyone, including many medical professionals. Its fine to use it. Its just that disorder is the correct term.

There is a perceived difference between an illness and a disorder. Illness implies sickness, weakness, and a state of being somehow less than. No wonder some people cringe when anxiety is called a mental illness. A disorder, on the other hand, implies that something isnt working properly and that it can be made orderly again.

The American Psychiatric Association , in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5, devotes an entire category to anxiety disorders. According to the APA, a metal disorder involves clinically significant disturbance in the following:

  • Thoughts
  • Negatively impacts social, occupational, and other functioning
  • Interferes in daily activities

Anxiety does fit these criteria, especially when its severe.

The National Institute of Mental Health describes some of the causes of anxiety disorders as the following:

  • Having close biological relatives with anxiety disorders
  • Parental history of mental disorders in general
  • Elevated cortisol levels in saliva in the afternoon

Questions To Ask A Health Care Provider

It is important to be educated about any medications that are taken for any illness, and it is no different for medications taken for anxiety. Here are some general questions to ask a doctor or pharmacist:

  • How long will it take before I feel better?
  • How often, and how much, do I take?
  • What are the possible side effects, if any, and what can I do to best manage them?
  • Will this medication interfere with other medication or herbal remedies that I take?
  • Could I have allergies to this medication?
  • What should I do if I dont feel better or if I miss a dose?
  • Is there any written information I can get about this medication?
  • Is there anything I should not do when I take this medication ?

Consult a doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about medication.

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Is Anxiety A Real Mental Illness

True or false: Anxiety is a real mental illness? That is a bit of an irritating question, isnt it? For one thing, its a true-or-false question, and those are inherently obnoxious. Ive never been a black-and-white thinker, and from kindergarten through graduate school, I struggled with true-or-false questions because I couldnt see absolutes. Things havent changed for me in this regard. Regarding the statement “anxiety is a real mental illness,” I can see that the statement is both true and false. I realize that this is a vague and probably unsatisfactory answer to a hotly debated topic. Heres a look at that question and its answer .

Take Short Stress Breaks

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, RN LPN NP Mental Health CE Course

Physical tension accumulates throughout the day, and this tension may contribute to anxiety. Frequent, short “stress breaks” may help to prevent this tension from accumulating. Some examples of effective stress breaks are walking during lunch hour, reading a magazine during an afternoon break and partaking in an enjoyable hobby on evenings and weekends.

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Myth: Anxiety Is A Temporary Problem

Fact: For people with an anxiety disorder, their fears do not go away. People with anxiety have described it as paralyzing, overwhelming and suffocating. If left untreated, it can get worse over time. These extreme feelings can end up getting in the way of daily activities such as performance on the job or at school, as well as having a negative impact on relationships. Anxiety disorders are treatable medical conditions, and with treatment, most people can go on to lead normal, productive lives.

How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder

There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:

  • Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
  • Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
  • Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.

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What Causes Depression

The exact cause of depression is unknown. It may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.2 Everyone is different but the following factors may increase a persons chances of becoming depressed:1

  • Having blood relatives who have had depression
  • Experiencing traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, or financial problems
  • Going through a major life change even if it was planned
  • Having a medical problem, such as cancer, stroke, or chronic pain
  • Taking certain medications. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether your medications might be making you feel depressed.
  • Using alcohol or drugs

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Causes & Risk Factors

Emotional Problems in Adults and Teens

Like most mental health problems, anxiety disorders appear to be caused by a combination of biological factors, psychological factors and challenging life experiences, including:

  • stressful or traumatic life event
  • family history of anxiety disorders
  • childhood development issues
  • alcohol, medications or illegal substances
  • other medical or psychiatric problems.

Also Check: Can Anxiety Make You Cry

Do You Need More Help

Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.

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