Has Anxiety Taken Over Your Life?
Anxiety is the leading clinically diagnosable mental health disorder – it affects millions of people. Everyone experiences a little anxiety in life. It can be necessary and a motivator to help us make plans and perform well. However, anxiety disrupts the everyday life of millions of people. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, anxiety disorder is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Almost 19 million Americans (aged 18 to 54) suffer from some anxiety disorder each year, according to a analysis by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Fear is generally the basis for anxiety disorders. All of us have felt its tingle before we do something that makes us nervous, such as making a public speech or going out on a first date. When that feeling becomes more constant and starts to invade our daily lives, then it has become a disorder and it’s time to get some help.
One of the best known forms of anxiety disorders is a Panic attack. During a Panic attach, the person is suffering from a panic attack experiences a racing heart with pain, or a heaviness in the chest with shortness of breath. Generalized anxiety disorder is another common form, characterized by a persistent and excessive worrying which occurs longer than six months and is accompanied by symptoms like insomnia, muscle tension, poor concentration, and irritability. Those suffering from general anxiety usually don’t experience panic attacks, but it can still be incapacitating. The endless anxiety reduces energy, causes disinterest in life and frequent mood swings. Other forms of anxiety disorders include social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Anxiety disorder can be complicated to treat; the functions of the brain simply aren’t fully understood. Medical researchers don’t understand why some people’s imbedded fear response goes into overdrive. There are at least five different neurotransmitters that seem to be disturbed in various anxiety disorders, and all of them can be treated by anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications.
Thankfully there are a number of options for treating and even curing anxiety disorders. Western medicine relies on medications and psychotherapy. Some people see two practitioners: a psychologist to counsel with, and a psychiatrist for prescription medication. This combination of treatments can be quite effective. Tranquilizers from the class called “benzodiazepines” are often prescribed and often work quite well. Some of these brand names are Xanax, Valium, and Ativan and they help those suffering from panic and anxiety. Most of these aren’t to be used for the long-term. Anti-depressants have proven more effective for those with acute anxiety disorders. The best ones seem to be the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) s. Some of these are Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil.
Alternative health care providers view anxiety disorders from an entirely different perspective. Patients who seek alternative treatment (usually non-pharmaceutical) should be prepared to approach the healing process with patience and introspection. Another therapeutic option is Cognitive Therapy (CBT) which focuses on creating an understanding of the thought process that produces worry. It helps anxiety suffers focus on realistic thoughts rather than unrealistic worries. Other alternative therapies for anxiety include relaxation training, desensitization, breathing exercises, meditation, acupuncture, homeopathy and biofeedback. In addition, some people find bodywork such as yoga, massage, chiropractic adjustments or even a brisk walk to provide long-term relief.