When Is It Time To Seek Medical Help
If you feel like your anxiety is causing you to pull away from friends and family and you’re not doing the things you used to enjoy, you really need to start looking for help. If you’re not able to find time to relax because you can’t shut off your stress, you need to find a healthcare provider that can intervene and help you.
Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders
The treatment of anxiety disorders should begin with a consideration of the type of symptoms and their nature, severity, intensity, frequency, and duration. Psychiatric conditions and/or medical conditions that frequently occur together should also be taken into account. Treatment choices will often depend partly on the patients preference.
First-line medications for treating GAD are similar to those for SAD: SSRIs or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Benzodiazepines may be useful for patients who experience anxiety symptoms when starting either of these or for patients who have failed to respond. Supportive counseling, insight-oriented psychotherapy, CBT, and group therapy may also be helpful. Education aimed at healthy lifestyles, proper nutrition, exercise, and minimizing caffeine is recommended.
While patients presenting with spontaneous panic attacks may benefit from an SSRI or SNRI and education, use of a benzodiazepine would not be indicated. In contrast, patients with cue-induced panic attacks may benefit from an SSRI or SNRI and may also require a benzodiazepine in severe cases. Guidance in the area of stress management and coping skills is also of benefit.
Is Your Anxiety Normal Or A Sign Of Something More Serious
4 min Read Time
Its normal to feel anxiety from time to time. Maybe youre nervous about speaking in public, worried about a health issue or concerned about your finances. As troubling as it can be, occasional angst is not harmful. In fact, it can actually be helpful, serving as the motivation you need to tackle new challenges.
However, too much anxiety isnt healthy. It could also be a warning sign of an anxiety disorder or another medical condition that needs treatment, according to Christina Lynn, MD, medical director of one of HCA Healthcares behavioral health units. We spoke with Dr. Lynn about anxiety, and she offered some insight on whats normal, whats excessive and when it may be a red flag for a serious health issue.
Q: Is it normal to experience bouts of anxiety?
A: Yes, anxiety is a normal response that everyone experiences. Its actually part of what drives people. If we didnt have anxiety, you wouldnt be as motivated to do things. It makes you take that extra step, to dress up a little bit more nicely and make a good first impression. It’s a normal response to stressful events and change. I would actually be more concerned if someone did not have anxiety when coping with change.
Q: At what point does anxiety start to become a problem?
Q: Are there different types of anxiety disorders?
A: Yes, there are many different anxiety disorders.
Q: Do anxiety disorders also cause physical symptoms?
Q: How are anxiety disorders treated?
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Can Anxiety Cause Nausea
Yes, anxiety can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Outside of your brain, your digestive system contains the second largest number of nerves in your body. Some scientists even call your gut your “second brain.”
It’s no surprise then that the hormones and chemicals released when you’re anxious can cause gut-related issues, including:
Possible Medical Reasons For Anxiety
A useful mnemonic device, THINC MED, developed by Georgetown University psychiatrist Robert Hedeya, MD, helps doctors determine potential medical causes of anxiety:
T : Brain tumors cause a wide range of psychological symptoms, including anxiety, personality changes and hallucinations, along with physical symptoms. Adrenal gland tumors produce excess adrenaline, which can trigger anxiety, along with headache.
H : Thyroid problems are among the most common medical causes of anxiety, either because the gland is overactive or underactive . Parathyroid and adrenal gland conditions can trigger anxiety, too. The female hormone estrogen can also prompt anxiety when the menstrual cycle fluctuates and during menopause.
I :Lyme disease from tick bite infections can trigger anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Untreated Strep infections can cause the neurological tics sometimes seen with anxiety disorders. Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can follow a viral infection, may trigger anxiety as well .
N : The symptoms of vitamin deficiency/overload, malabsorption and poor nutrition can mimic emotional disorders. For example, anxiety may be the first symptom of B12 deficiency.
C : Head trauma, even when mild, can trigger anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Anxiety is also seen with chronic or progressive neurological conditions, such as Alzheimers, myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barre.
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The Characteristics Of High Functioning Anxiety
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
High functioning anxiety is not a recognized mental health diagnosis. Rather, it’s evolved as a catch-all term that refers to people who live with anxiety but identify as functioning reasonably well in different aspects of their life.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , around 19% of adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder.
Some people may consider themselves to be in the “high functioning” category, but it’s difficult to know exactly how many have this type of anxiety.
If you have high functioning anxiety, you probably notice that your anxiety propels you forward rather than leaves you frozen in fear.
On the surface, you appear to be successful, together, and calmthe typical Type A personality who excels at work and life. However, the way you feel on the inside may be very different.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
Experiencing Panic Attacks Doesn’t Mean You Have Panic Disorder
I frequently have people come to me having already self-diagnosed themselves as having Panic Disorder because they have panic attacks. Although some people are right, just as frequently, theyre wrong.
Briefly, a panic attack is a sudden rush of acute fear and anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, tightness in the chest, tingling, nausea and other stomach distress, shaking, and sweating. During a panic attack, someone may be aware of thoughts spinning in their head and they likely have some type of behavioral reaction .
Panic attacks usually come on quite quickly, build to a peak in approximately five to 20 minutes, and then subside. It’s not uncommon to hear people say that their panic attacks last a lot longer however, it’s probably the after effects of the attack that they’re feeling, such as residual anxiety and increased alertness to bodily sensations, rather than the panic attack itself.
So, if a person is experiencing panic attacks, and its not Panic Disorder, what else might it be?
Sometimes it helps to have a psychologist help you sort this out. But it can also be good to gather some data on your own. One good way to do this is to keep a thought diary. You can read a whole post about keeping thought diaries here. Briefly, you just note the situation you had the panic attack, what thoughts were going through your mind, and any other variable you can think of that might be pertinent
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How To Cope When You Have Panic Attacks
Desperate for help, he reached out to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which sent him a list of therapists experienced in treating panic attacks and anxiety. This is how I got better, Sideman says. I found a therapist who understood what panic disorder was, understood agoraphobia, and knew cognitive behavioral therapy, which I had not known about. He also started practicing meditation.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help with treating panic disorder and agoraphobia. According to a study published in December 2013 in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, its effects lasted as long as two years after the initial treatment. And a study published in August 2017 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology suggested that it may be superior to traditional psychotherapy in the treatment of this condition.
People generally can overcome panic attacks faster if they seek help after the first one or two, says psychologist Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at the Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State University in Columbus. When you do seek help, your doctor or therapist will ask about your symptoms and the situations in which they arise, and might also recommend additional medical testing to rule out other health concerns.
How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children
Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.
But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.
When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help
Read Also: How To Overcome Test Anxiety
Where Do I Go From Here
In addition to talking to your family doctor, check out the resources below for more information about generalized anxiety disorder:
AnxietyBCVisit www.anxietybc.com or call 604-525-7566 for information, tools, and community resources on anxiety.
BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions InformationVisit www.heretohelp.bc.ca for the Anxiety Disorders Toolkit, more info sheets and personal stories about anxiety disorders. The Toolkit is full of information, tips and self-tests to help you understand generalized anxiety disorder.
Resources available in many languages:*For each service below, if English is not your first language, say the name of your preferred language in English to be connected to an interpreter. More than 100 languages are available.
HealthLink BCCall 811 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information. Through 811, you can also speak to a registered nurse about symptoms youre worried about, or talk with a pharmacist about medication questions.
About the author
The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.
Who Does It Affect
Generalized anxiety disorder affects between 5% and 6% of people at some point in their life. GAD often starts sometime between late childhood and early adulthood, though it’s not uncommon for it to begin much later in life. Children may also be diagnosed with GAD. In children, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder can look like GAD, so a mental health professional will carefully look at where the child’s worry is coming from before they make a diagnosis.
There are some groups of people at higher risk of getting the disorder:
WomenWomen are almost twice as likely as men to develop GAD.
Older adultsIts not uncommon for people to develop GAD later in life.
People with another mental illnesses or substance use disorderPeople living with GAD often have another mental illness. Mood illnesses like depression, other anxiety disorders and substance use disorders commonly occur with GAD. People who start to experience GAD when theyre younger may be more likely to be diagnosed with more than one mental illness.
Family membersGAD seems to run in families, so you have a higher risk of developing the illness if a close family member also has GAD.
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Can Anxiety Cause Headaches
Headaches are associated with chronic anxiety.
Headaches are common in and of themselves, but they arent necessarily a common symptom of the general anxiety you might feel here and there.
However, headaches including migraines can be a complication of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder . This type of anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive worrying that disrupts a persons day-to-day life.
How To Tell If An Attack Is Anxiety Or Something Else
The biggest question people have is whether or not they suffered from an anxiety attack or something more physically serious, like a heart attack.
Unfortunately, the symptoms are so close to each other that the only way to tell is to talk to a doctor. The important thing to realize is that anxiety attacks are quite common, and heart attacks/serious health issues in those that are younger and are generally in good health are less common. There are a few differences as well:
- Although both may cause vomiting, heart attacks are more likely to lead to vomiting.
- Chest pains during heart attacks tend to radiate more throughout the shoulder.
- Anxiety attacks are more likely to have a âpeakâ at about 10 minutes.
It is always a good idea to speak with your doctor at least once.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders
In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms include:
- Feelings of apprehension or dread.
- Watching for signs of danger.
- Anticipating the worst.
- Feeling like your minds gone blank.
But anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the bodys fight-or-flight response, it also involves a wide range of physical symptoms, including:
- Pounding heart.
- Shaking or trembling.
Because of these physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is finally recognized.
Tone Your Inner Power Daily
Think of your inner power as a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you use it, the more toned it becomes and the more you are able to accomplish. Every time you practice a healthy life strategy, you actually increase your ability to conquer your anxiety. What you couldnt do yesterday, you can do today. With practice, your new skills will become automatic. This is how you create lasting freedom from anxiety.
In the words of Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
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Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.