You’ve Started Having Problems At Work
AsHershenson says, “It is a problem when your anxiety begins taking a toll on your mental and physical health, affecting work and relationships.” This means your anxiety is likely getting out of control and going beyond the “normal” anxiety we all feel every day. So, are you having trouble making it through a work day? Or are you too nervous to travel on business trips? Take these as signs.
Figuring Out If You Have An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders come in many forms. What I have is known as generalized anxiety disorder , which is marked by consistent, excessive worries that are difficult to control or stop. It affects about 6.8 million American adults and women are twice as likely as men to have it.
Other types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Because anxiety has such a wide range of signs and symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose, according to Christen Sistrunk, a licensed professional counselor in Texas who specializes in treating anxiety disorders.
The first step to evaluating whether you have anxiety is to figure out the type of anxiety you have and how it affects you, said Justin Baksh, chief clinical officer of Foundations Wellness Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. For instance, maybe you feel it because you brain cant shut off. No matter how hard you try, your mind wanders into the future about finances, work, family issues, and so on, Baksh said.
Or perhaps you experience more physical symptoms, like an upset stomach, digestive issues, sweaty palms, a constant uneasiness, heart palpitations or bouncing legs. Depending on the type of disorder, you could also experience specific fears, avoidance of social situations, shaking, dizziness, fear of losing control, a sense of unreality the list goes on.
There Are Effective Treatments For Anxiety
Treatment is tailored to the diagnosis. Effective options include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as skipping caffeine, exercising regularly, and avoiding medicines or substances that might cause anxiety symptoms.
- Mind-body approaches, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and techniques to ease muscle tension and promote calm.
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. CBT teaches people to challenge and reframe distorted or unhelpful anxious thinking, because thoughts influence feelings and actions. Exposure therapy helps people tolerate and calm anxiety by gradually exposing a person to feared situations or objects under guidance from a therapist.
- Medicines, such as short-acting drugs called benzodiazepines, which are taken as needed when anxiety spikes. Low doses of some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , help relieve anxiety when taken daily.
Often, a combination of approaches is best. Relieving anxiety with medicine while using CBT or exposure therapy to strengthen coping skills and help retrain the brain can do much to make anxiety manageable.
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You Experience Physical Effects
Constant anxiety and stress can cause many physical symptoms, including:
- muscle tension
These aches and pains can do more than just make you uncomfortable. You also may find that you experience:
- a change in eating habits
- a fluctuation in your weight
- an inability or unwillingness to do activities you used to enjoy
Heart palpitations, which can make you feel as though your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat, can happen during moments of intense anxiety.
You may even feel shortness of breath as your body attempts to increase the levels of oxygen going to your muscles.
Do Easy Workouts Help To Combat Anxiety
Many studies support the use of meditation, qi gong, and tai qi to help calm and center brain activity. In my clinic, acupuncture is a reliable remedy to help the mind and spirit rebalance, even if the conscious mind is not completely on board yet.
It is also crucial to begin reprogramming unhealthy brain messages. Sometimes I will read Buddhist philosophy books with my patients so they can begin replacing negative thoughts with positive ones while contemplating existential life questions that may be at the root of the anxiety.
There may be no one treatment for mood issues and anxiety. But a thoughtful synergy of recommendations that address the various aspects of the body and mind can result in bringing anxiety under control while helping the brain process and heal.
Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc practices in New York, and recently authored Healing Depression: Integrated Naturopathic and Conventional Therapies.
Pagura J, Katz LY, Mojtabai R, Druss BG, Cox B, Sareen J. Antidepressant use in the absence of common mental disorders in the general population. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 72:494-501.
Belleville G. Mortality hazard associated with anxiolytic and hypnotic drug use in the National Population Health Survey. Can J Psychiatry. 2010 55:558-67.
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There Are Generally Two Main Prescription Anxiety Medications Out On The Market Today
Of course there are other smaller ones as well but these two are the big ones and in order to give the question, what is the best anxiety medication with least side effects, a fair answer, we first have to take a look at these two.
Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs commonly called minor tranquilizers. They act on the GABA receptors in the brain, resulting in sedative, hypnotic , anxiolytic , anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties.
Benzodiazepines are the most effective medications for anxiety but they are far from safest. While short term use is generally considered safe , they come with a lot of side effects, and long term use can lead to physical as well as psychological dependence.
Aside from the risk of benzodiazepine addiction some of the side effects of benzos are:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
Worth mentioning is also the very high risk of withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication. The ironic part is that stopping the medication, even after short term use, can sometimes give A LOT of anxiety in form of the rebound effect from the drug.
Aside from all the research, I have personal experiences with this and I would never recommend benzodiazepines to any of my friends and loved ones. That said thy are very effective for anxiety and sometimes in life we need all the help we can get.
In Our Quest To Find The Best Anxiety Medication With The Least Side Effects We Now Take A Look At The Other Big Oneantidepressants
Antidepressants, like for example SSRIs, are very often prescribed for anxiety as well as for depression. They are not as effective at instantly killing anxiety as the benzos but they are generally somewhat safer to use long term than benzodiasepines
they DO however come with a host of, often nasty, side effects. Some of them include:
Not everyone who uses them experiences any of these, but the sad truth is that antidepressants are notorious for their unwanted, and often, intolerable side effects
In addition to this they do not work for everyone and, just as with the benzos, I also have first hand experiences with using antidepressants and I can happily say that it has now been five years since I stopped taking them.
and my plan is to stay off them for good.
When it comes to antidepressants, here too, I would be very careful recommending them to anyone
I believe that long term use can affect our brain in a very negative way and I know, from both research and first hand experience, that comming off of them can potentially be PURE HELL, and is often accompanied by some form of burnout and sick leave.
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What To Expect During Therapy For Anxiety Treatment
The cost of anxiety treatment often depends on the diagnosis of your symptoms. For instance, if youre struggling with stress and trauma-related disorders, your treatment will differ from someone experiencing anxiety attacks due to overthinking. The timeline for treatment will also depend on the severity of the condition.
Luckily. anxiety treatments are usually short-term and beneficial. Although there are several anxiety treatment options, the most popular ones are exposure and cognitive behavioural therapy .
These anxiety therapies may be administered alone or merged with medication and other supportive treatments.
Special Benzodiazepine Risk Factors
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But certain individuals are at a higher risk:
People over 65. Older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines. Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia. Benzodiazepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents. Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
People with a history of substance abuse. Because theyre physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor. If medication is necessary, the goal is the smallest effective dose.
The connection between benzodiazepines and accidents
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Are Antidepressants Necessary
Many psychiatrists are trained that antidepressants are to the depressed as glasses are to the near-sighted. In other words, if you feel depressed, youre prescribed an antidepressant.
A research paper published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2015 determined that among antidepressant users, 69% never met the criteria for major depressive disorder , while 38% never met the criteria for MDDD, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder , social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder at any point in their lifetime.
Many people prescribed and using antidepressants may not even have met the criteria for any mental disorder, and yet these drugs are given anyway. Antidepressants are also often prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder , anorexia, bulimia, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.
You Just Need A Break
It’s OK to take medication as a way of giving your mind a break, while also allowing the chance to your thoughts patterns. “Medication can be helpful to take the edge off and make life more manageable,” says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. “This will allow you to develop healthy coping skills to deal better with your anxiety.”
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Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder
Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, restlessness or tenseness, a sense of impending danger or doom, increased heart rate, breathing rapidly, sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, trouble concentrating or sleeping, stomach aches and headaches and the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
Anxiety disorders often develop from a complex set of risk factors. The risk factors may include exposure to trauma, certain medical problems like thyroid disease or heart disease, stress due to a severe illness and other mental health disorders like depression. The use or misuse of drugs and alcohol can worsen symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are best treated with a combination of therapy and medication, Alonzo said. It takes time to find the perfect combination for your symptoms. Your primary care provider is the best place to start that journey.
Benzodiazepine Anxiety Addiction Connection
Firstly, some of the characteristics of someone who suffers from anxiety can include an addictive personality. When profiling those with clinical mood disorders, its been found that there is a connection between how easy it is for them to become addicted. Benzodiazepines are addictive, this is clear. They can lead to physical and psychological dependence which can cause uncomfortable, even deadly, withdrawal symptoms. The brain becomes altered when you take benzos, which can cause disruption if stopped cold turkey. If you dont seek out medical detox, you could experience a seizure. For those who legitimately take normal doses as prescribed by their doctor, theres a small percentage of dependency. Its when someone abuses benzodiazepines that it becomes problematic.
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What Can You Do Yourself
Many people with generalized anxiety disorder don’t even think of going to see a doctor. They try to manage their fears on their own, for example using books or information from the internet. Some learn relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or yoga. The effectiveness of these kinds of strategies for managing anxiety disorders on your own is not well studied in scientific studies. Relaxation techniques are often used in psychological treatments, but it isn’t known how effective they are when used alone.
Some people try herbal sedatives like valerian, lavender or passion flower. There hasn’t been much research on these products either. Many people assume that herbal remedies are better tolerated and safer than other kinds of medicine. But they can also have side effects and may influence the effects of other medication.
People who treat an anxiety disorder on their own may only seek professional help after a very long time. If an anxiety disorder is really affecting your everyday life, certain kinds of psychological treatment and medication can help.
You Toss And Turn Every Night
Its a vicious cycle: You cant fall asleep because youre anxiousand youre exhausted the next day, which makes you even more anxious.
For our ancestors, late-night anxiety was a survival technique. They had to sleep with one eye open to spot the tiger lurking beyond the campfire. But if youre worrying about money, a pounding heart wont help you pay the mortgage.
A great solution for run-of-the-mill insomnia: exercise. It promotes better sleep and also helps you calm down in the moment. In addition, deep breathing resets your anxiety response.
But if you dread darkness because you know there will be no rest for you, talk to your clinician.
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Panic Disorder: Causes Symptoms And Treatment
According to Mayo Clinic, anxiety is a normal part of life if it occurs occasionally. Anxiety is characterised by a constant, intense and excessive worry about day-to-day life. There are different types of anxiety disorders like generalised anxiety disorder, separation anxiety and social anxiety. People often avoid situations to prevent the onset of the attack.
Talking To Your Doctor
It is important to communicate regularly with your doctor when you are anxiety medications, especially if you are prescribed any other medications. Keep track of your symptoms so that they can find the best medication for you, and also keep track of any side effects you experience. If you are having trouble finding a medication that works, drug-genetic testing can help your doctor determine appropriate options. If you become pregnant or are breastfeeding, be sure to ask what medication is safest.
Some anxiety medications carry warnings that they may increase suicidal thoughts, particularly among young people. Be sure to communicate with your doctor if you experience any suicidal thoughts while on the medication or monitor your child if they are taking them. Also, if you are taking any anxiety medications that have habit-forming potential, be sure to talk to your doctor if you feel that you are becoming dependent on the medication or have a history of substance abuse.
Above all, its important to not get discouraged if an anxiety medication isnt the right fit for you. With patience, observation, and communication, you and your doctor can find the medication that best fits your symptoms and needs.
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