Treating Anxiety Disorders

Treating Anxiety Disorders

There are various methods for treating anxiety disorders. Treatment plans vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, as well as the individual’s needs. While it is common for people to experience occasional anxiety, those with anxiety disorders experience persistent symptoms that interfere with daily activities. Luckily, treatment is available and has been proven beneficial for many.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” allows individuals to work directly with their healthcare provider to reduce anxiety symptoms. There are many types of psychotherapy all with their own benefits, but the most commonly used for the treatment of anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps one take a new perspective in their thoughts, behaviors, and reactions. After learning these skills, many individuals find that their anxiety symptoms decrease and become more manageable. Another type of psychotherapy commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT aims to help reduce anxiety and discomfort through mindfulness and goal setting. 

Medication

Medication can also be used to help individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder. However, it is important to note that medications often can have side effects, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are both commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they can also decrease many symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Anti-anxiety medications help decrease symptoms of anxiety including panic attacks, extreme worries, and more. Benzodiazepines may be used to help manage anxiety symptoms. Although benzodiazepines can be very beneficial and quick acting, they are typically only prescribed in short-periods of time due to how easily one can build a tolerance and dependence for the medication.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

In addition to psychotherapy or medication, many people have turned to complementary and alternative treatments. These treatments vary but include:

  • Stress relief and relaxation techniques that are aimed at calming the mind and body.
  • Self management plans to help gain control over the day.
  • Exercise even in small amounts can often reduce anxiety symptoms.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety over a number of things. Many people occasionally feel anxious. However, individuals may be diagnosed with GAD if they experience ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily life.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the US, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In many cases, GAD also occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. 

Living with GAD can be a long-term challenge, but luckily treatment is available. Treatment plans commonly include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Many individuals find relief of some, if not all, symptoms of GAD with treatment.

SYMPTOMS

Common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Overthinking and planning for worst-case scenarios
  • Persistent worry or anxiety about everyday things
  • Difficulty with uncertainty
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
  • Feeling restless or having trouble relaxing
  • Irritability

Common physical symptoms of GAD  include:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Headaches, stomachaches, or muscle aches
  • Nausea or diarrhea

Treatment

Treatment can often provide individuals relief from symptoms. Plans may vary but commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Psychotherapy (talk therapy) helps reduce symptoms of GAD for many. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be the most effective form of psychotherapy in the treatment of GAD. CBT teaches individuals skills to help them manage worries or feelings of anxiety. This process allows individuals to overcome symptoms of anxiety.
  • Medication
    • Antidepressants, including medications in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) classes, are the most commonly used medications to treat GAD.
    • Anti-anxiety medications, such as Buspirone, may also be used to treat GAD.
    • Benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety sedative medications, may also be prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety in limited circumstances. These medications can be helpful in rapidly decreasing symptoms of anxiety. However, they are often habit forming, causing them to typically be prescribed on only a short-term basis.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Social Anxiety Disorder

SOcial Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is more than just shyness, but rather a serious mental health condition. Those with the disorder experience intense fear about social interaction, often due to irrational worries. These fears can affect one’s work, school, and other daily activities. However, treatment is available for social anxiety disorder and has proven beneficial for many.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a common anxiety disorder that causes symptoms of anxiety and/or fear in social situations. The person may fear humiliation, judgment, or rejection. 

Everyday tasks such as ordering food, asking a question in class, using a public restroom, or more, can all be a challenge for those with the disorder. The fear is often so strong that individuals feel as though it is beyond their control. This can lead to troubles functioning throughout day-to-day life. 

Symptoms

Although symptoms vary, those with social anxiety disorder may experience the following symptoms when in front of or around others:

  • Feeling nauseous
  • Making little eye contact
  • Speaking quietly
  • Blushing, sweating, and/or trembling
  • Having a hard time talking to people
  • Feeling very self-conscious
  • Isolating from others

Treatment

Treatment plans vary, so it is important to speak with your health care provider to create a plan tailored to your specific needs. Your provider may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist, counselor, or psychologist. 

Social anxiety disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, or a combination of both. 

  • There are various types of psychotherapy, but cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used in treatment of this disorder. CBT helps teach individuals different ways to think and react in situations that cause anxiety.
  • Medication types that are commonly used to treat social anxiety disorder include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

 

Treating Anxiety

Treating Anxiety

There are various methods of treating anxiety disorders. It is important for you and your health care provider to decide what approach to treatment would be best for you. Often, treatment involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. 

The following consists of information on various forms of anxiety treatment. 

Psychotherapy

There are many different types of psychotherapy, but the most often used type to treat anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on finding what thinking patterns are leading to one’s anxiety. It also aims to help teach individuals how to reduce beliefs or behaviors that lead to anxiety.

Medication

For some, medication can be quite beneficial in managing an anxiety disorder. However, medications do often have side effects and risks, so it is important to speak with your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

For the treatment of anxiety disorders, both anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are used. Anti-anxiety medications work solely to reduce physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can also be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety. They also aim to help treat depression, which is often co-occurring with anxiety disorders. 

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Many people have begun using complementary and alternative treatments alongside conventional treatment to help treat their anxiety disorder. These treatments vary, but often include:

  • Stress relief and relaxation techniques that are aimed at calming the mind and body.
  • Self management plans to help gain control over the day.
  • Exercise even in small amounts can often reduce anxiety symptoms.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Stress vs. Anxiety

There is a fine line between stress vs. anxiety since they share many of the same symptoms. However, it is important to know the differences between the two to help determine what treatment plan may be effective for you. 

The following information is intended to help you distinguish between stress and anxiety, and learn coping mechanisms for both.

What is Stress?

Stress is generally a physical or mental response to an external cause. These causes can include, but are not limited to, a heavy workload, illness, significant life change, or relationship difficulties.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety generally stems from an internal cause, such as stress. However, anxiety can occur and persist even when there is no current threat. If one’s anxiety doesn’t go away overtime, it can begin to interfere with their health and wellbeing.

STress

  • Generally a response to an external cause
  • When the situation causing stress is resolved, the stress typically goes away
  • Can be positive, such as in situations in which you have a deadline you need to be pushed to meet

Both

  • Stress and anxiety both can affect the mind and body
  • The symptoms of the two are similar and often overlap. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
    • Loss of sleep
    • Headaches
    • Feeling uneasy
    • Tension
    • High blood pressure
    • Excessive worry

Anxiety

  • Generally internal, as a reaction to stress
  • Persistent feelings and symptoms of anxiety, even when no threat is present
  • Often accompanied with feelings of dread or apprehension that don’t go away

Coping with Stress and Anxiety

We suggest trying to learn what causes your stress, and subsequent anxiety. Better understanding the causes can help determine what coping techniques may be right for you. When you are beginning to feel stressed, we recommend the following:

  • Practice relaxation activities that you enjoy
  • Keep a journal in which you can write your thoughts and feelings, or even doodle if that provides relief to you
  • Exercise even if only in small amounts
  • Challenge negative thoughts and try to consciously replace them with positive thoughts
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine especially before bed
  • Create a sleep routine that is consistent and provides an adequate amount of rest
  • Reach out to your support network of family, friends, and/or health care provider

Treatment and More Help

If your symptoms persist over time, or you feel like you are struggling to cope, it is important to reach out for more help. A health care provider can help you determine the causes and best plan of action for treating your stress or anxiety.

If you are in immediate distress or are thinking about hurting yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

More RESOURCES

Treating Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Many people get feelings of anxiety but, an anxiety disorder is more than a passing feeling and can prevent one from being able to complete everyday tasks, due to the intense fear and distress they may feel. Treatment, however, can help and is available for those struggling with an anxiety disorder. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, which is also referred to as talk therapy or counseling, involves working with a therapist or mental health professional to help reduce anxiety symptoms.

One of the most effective forms of treating anxiety using psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy focuses on teaching an individual the skills needed to help complete everyday tasks and feel their best while doing so. 

Medications

Various different types of medication are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, all with the goal of relieving the anxiety symptoms of the user. 

Types of medication used to treat anxiety disorders include:

    • Certain antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety medications, such as buspirone
    • In some cases, benzodiazepines

More information and RESOURCES

  • We recommend talking to your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have.
  • To learn more about anxiety disorders and the treatment used, we suggest the following links:
    • NAMI: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
    • NIMH: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

ANXIETY DISORDERS: Signs and Symptoms

Many people often experience anxiety, whether the source is stress from work, the weight of making an important decision, or anything else. Anxiety disorders, however, are more than temporary worries. For those with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can even get worse over time. The symptoms of these disorders can interfere and create challenges within daily life and responsibilities. 

SYMPTOMS

Although there are multiple types of anxiety disorders with their own unique symptoms, they all have the feature of “persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” (NAMI) The following are commonly experienced symptoms in those who have an anxiety disorder:

  • Emotional Symptoms
    • Feelings of dread
    • Feeling tense
    • Irritability 
    • Restlessness
    • Anticipating the worst
  • Physical Symptoms
    • Pounding or fast beating heart
    • Sweating or tremors
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue or insomnia
    • Upset stomach

COMMON TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias

TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

  • To learn more about anxiety disorders, or find out if you may be affected by one, we recommend contacting your health care provider.
  • To read more about anxiety disorders, the following resources are suggested:
    • NAMI: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
    • NIMH: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/

 

PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

PHYSICAL WELL-BEING

“Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and proper sleep.”

EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

“Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.”

Use the following link or watch below, for a video featuring Dr. Richard Davidson and Dr. Bruce McEwen, brought to you by the NCCIH, to learn more about emotional well-being:

Creating a balanced life that supports physical and emotional well-being will help contribute to one’s overall wellness. To learn more, visit the following link to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/wellness-and-well-being

5 ways to protect mental health

  “Breathe, Take 5, Focus, Disconnect and Reflect.”

5 Ways to Protect Mental Health Amid Chaos

Who knew the year 2020 would bring so many changes to our lives! This year has brought COVID, quarantines, social injustices, mass protests, and political upheavals. Many of us have also been faced with job losses, childcare disruption, and loss of loved ones. It is no wonder we are all struggling with maintaining some sort of balance in the “new normal” we all live in. How is it even possible to maintain any sense of normalcy, let alone protect our mental health? Consider these five easy steps toward finding your balance:

1

Breathe

  • Take time every day to simply stop and breathe. When we are constantly moving and going all day, we fail to realize how much our bodies bear the stress. Subconsciously we are holding our breath, gritting our teeth, and tensing muscles. Our stomachs are upset, our head hurts, and our body generally ache. Why? We forget that sometimes the most important thing we can do for ourselves and those around us is to simply stop… and breathe.

2

Take 5 Minutes

  • Take 5 minutes at the beginning of every day to remind yourself of what you are thankful for. Doing so, sets our mind in motion on a positive path that will filter light into all aspects of our lives. Too often we become consumed by how bad things may feel or seem in the moment and find ourselves down a rabbit hole of despair. In doing so, we fail to realize how good the reality of our situation or circumstances truly are.

3

Focus on What You can Personally Control

  • Focus on what you can personally control and let go of the rest. Anytime you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed, focus on the aspects of the situation that you can control or change. You cannot control the actions, words, or thoughts of other people. You can however control how you choose to respond to a situation or a person. Never give up this control or power to anyone… it belongs to you and no one else.

4

Disconnect

  • Disconnect from social media. Yes, I know this is hard, but doing so has exponential benefit! I have recently adopted the phrase “doom scrolling” … How often do find yourself scrolling through social media and physically feel yourself becoming more stressed, sad, or anxious? I dare say, we have all been there at least once or twice. Know when to say when. Set a daily time limit for yourself. Take social media holidays. Embrace the disconnect!

5

Reflect

Reflect at the end of every day on the positive. What went well? What did you achieve? What made you smile? How did you make a change to better yourself today? How did you demonstrate joy or love to another person today? Reflection is a simple practice that if done consistently will reduce insomnia, limit rumination, and overall improve your quality of sleep. In the same light that starting your day with gratitude sets you on a brighter path, finishing your day reflecting on the good provides balance to our otherwise chaotic world.

For more ways to find your balance in the chaos, check out https://tinybuddha.com/blog/4-ways-to-remain-centered-amid-all-of-the-chaos/.