Anxiety is a disorder and generic word that is used to describe feelings of worry, fear and apprehension. Every individual experiences anxiety, some experience it less frequently and with lesser intensity. In most cases anxiety dissipates soon and automatically. We all deal with scenarios that may cause worry, phobias and apprehension. For most people anxiety and its symptoms last only as long as the scenarios, since we associate fear and worry with certain scenarios. On the contrary, severe anxiety is unnerving, debilitating and it soon takes a toll on every aspect of one’s life. In fact, the more severe forms of anxiety can actually begin to cause and display physical symptoms. Severe anxiety affects one’s daily routine, hampers sleep and the feeling of wellbeing. There are also cases in which severe anxiety is experienced due to no specific reason and symptoms become chronic.
This disorder is quite common, so much so that numerous individuals throughout the world seek tips on how to overcome anxiety. One can combat this disorder through counseling or through medical treatments. It should be borne in mind that anxiety cannot be cured completely as it is related to feelings and experiences. The unwanted and excessive symptoms however can be alleviated through treatment.
Causes of anxiety
To learn how to overcome anxiety one needs to be aware of its causes. All the factors and causes are listed below:
- Mental conditions:
Disorders related to one’s mental health that can cause anxiety are:
- Panic disorder: Anxiety is a symptom of having a mental disorder related to panic. Other symptoms one experiences due to panic disorders are shortness of breath, dizziness and palpitations.
- Stress disorder: Chronic stress disorders lead to anxiety as both are correlated.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Sufferers of this disorder experience uncontrollable and excessive apprehension and fear. It is also known as GAD and can lead to anxiety as they are interrelated.
- Phobic disorders: An irrational and chronic feeling of fear may also contribute to anxiety.
- External factors:
External factors that cause anxiety are listed below:
- Stress from personal and professional matters
- Stress caused by financial issues
- Emotional turmoil caused by the death of loved ones
- Adverse effects of medication may lead to anxiety
- Use of illegal and harmful drugs
- Other health issues that may be hard to cure
- Symptoms of ailments that cause distress and ultimately lead to anxiety
- A general lack of oxygen in one’s system adds to the feeling of anxiety
Treatment for anxiety
Quite a lot of sufferers of anxiety disorders employ self-help techniques that work quite effectively for them. However, when the intensity of symptoms increases medical attention is sought. Individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety disorder resort to medical treatment as it provides relief much sooner than alternative treatments. Three types of treatments that work exceptionally well are listed below:
- Behavioral therapy
- Combination of a certain degree of medication and behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy concentrates on the behavioral aspect of patients and not on any underlying psychological conditions. Behavioral therapy requires time to exhibit effectiveness. A time period of 5 to 20 weeks is enough to notice improvements. This form of therapy can be further divided into two types, which are:
- Cognitive behavior therapy- This therapy aims at comprehending behavior and thoughts as a means of treating anxiety disorders. Irrational beliefs and negative thinking patterns of the patient are challenged through this form of therapy.
- Exposure therapy- A controlled yet safe environment is provided to a patient after which, he/she is encouraged to face his/her fears and apprehensions. By gaining repeated exposure patients learn to develop a sense of control and eventually anxiety is replaced with a more positive and confident outlook.
Types of medication employed
Anxiety medication includes anti anxiety drugs that are also known as tranquilizers. Benzodiazepines are a commonly used form and help relieve symptoms of anxiety by reducing brain activity. Antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety disorders. These antidepressant drugs consist of four primary types and have been listed below:
- SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (like Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac and Celexa)
- MOIs or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
- TCAs or Tricyclic Antidepressants
- Atypical Antidepressants
The reason why antidepressants are preferred for the treatment of anxiety disorders is because the risk of abuse is greatly reduced and so is the level of dependency. The drawback of using antidepressants is that they require time to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Anywhere between 5 to 6 weeks is needed to experience improvement. Therefore, antidepressants fail to provide relief instantaneously. They need to be continued to keep forms of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder under control.
Another drug that effectively treats anxiety disorder is Buspirone which is available as BuSpar. This drug acts as a milder form of antidepressants and increases levels of serotonin while decreasing dopamine. Unlike Xanax this drug takes time to produce noticeable results. While Buspirone is being used one does not experience lack of coordination or memory impairment. Also, Buspirone is not as heavily sedating when compared to older anti anxiety drugs. When usage is stopped negligible withdrawal effects are experienced. There are however, adverse effects, which include:
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
Buspirone has limited side effects and offers limited effectiveness. It can only treat generalized anxiety disorder and fails to treat panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Beta Blocker is another alternative of drugs that can efficiently treat symptoms of anxiety. Beta Blocker is especially helpful for treating physical symptoms of this disorder. Trembling hands, trembling voice, dizziness, sweating and a rapid heart rate can all be controlled through the use of Beta Blockers. The effects of a stress hormone named norepinephrine are blocked when this drug is used. Beta Blockers were originally used for the treatment of heart problems and high blood pressure. After one learns about the various forms of treatment and the drugs used to accomplish treatment, one will no longer have to look for information on how to overcome anxiety.