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What is it?
- Anxiety is an inevitable part of life in contemporary society. It is important to realize that there are many situations that come up in everyday life in which it is appropriate and reasonable to react with some anxiety. Anxiety disorders involve anxiety that is more intense, lasts longer, or leads to phobias that interfere with your life.
- Anxiety is a grouping of symptoms that include physiological, behavioral, and psychological reactions, which can often occur simultaneously.
- It can appear in different forms and at different levels of intensity.
- It is estimated that 40 million American adults over the age of 18 suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Most people with 1 form of anxiety disorder will have another form.
- Forms include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive/compulsive disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
Although different forms of anxiety disorders have different symptoms, there are some that occur across all of the different forms. Any person may have any of the symptoms. We do not have to have them all and they can be in any combination.
- Severe worry and/or tension that interferes with daily functioning
- Physical symptoms for which no organic cause can be found
- Dry mouth
- Muscle Tension
- Stomach problems and abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath or feeling like choking
- Pounding heart or chest pain
- Sleep disturbances, feeling fatigued
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
The cause of anxiety disorders is not clearly known, although research has provided several clues.
- The areas of the brain that control fear responses may have a role in some anxiety disorders.
- The role of brain chemistry is currently being investigated.
- Tendencies toward anxiety disorders run in families, suggesting that a combination of genes and environmental stresses can produce the disorders.
- Unfortunately, many people suffer with this condition without seeking help. This may be because the condition is unrecognized by the person or from fear of criticism because of the condition.
- Each anxiety disorder has its own unique characteristics; however treatment is similar for all of them.
- Most disorders will respond to the 2 primary forms of treatment
- SSRIs (such as Lexapro, Prozac, etc.)
- Anxiolytics (such as Xanax, Ativan, etc)
- While each treatment form is effective, most people will respond best to a combination of both.
- Many medications take up to several weeks to be effective. Therefore, you need to continue to take them don't give up.
How to Get Help
- See someone in the Health Center. Schedule an appointment with a provider to assure that you and the provider will have the time you need to address your concerns.
- See someone in the Counseling Center. To schedule an appointment with a counselor call 395-2207.
- Does this mean I'm crazy?
- No, it means you are having a problem in this area and need some assistance. The Health Center and Counseling Center are available to help.
- Can't I treat it on my own?
- Some people are able to use self talk or other coping mechanisms, but most of us will need to learn those techniques. The Counseling Center is available for this
- Some people try to treat these feelings on their own with alcohol or other recreational drugs. These don't really treat the problem and create another set of problems. Therefore we advise you to avoid alcohol or other drugs.
- Can I stop the medicine when I feel better?
- If you have been on the medication for a significant interval, such as at least 1 year, discuss a trial period without the medication with your provider. This is something you need to work on together. Some medicines need to be tapered to stop.
To learn more about anxiety disorders on line, check the following websites:
- American Psychiatric Association at www.HealthyMinds.org
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America at www.adaa.org
- Mental Health America at www.mentalhealthAmerica.net
- National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D.