How to Deal With Anxiety
Feeling anxious is something we all experience to some degree at some point in our lives. However, when those anxious thoughts and feelings become chronic, it can significantly impair quality of life, especially when left untreated.
Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting roughly 40 million adults.
This breaks down to be about 1 in 5 people, making it something we all need to be more aware of.
What is Anxiety?
So, what exactly is anxiety?
Evolutionarily, anxiety is a natural emotion that we experience to help us make quick decisions in potentially dangerous situations. At one point in time, this may have been an approaching predator and we needed to decide to fight or flee. Anxiety raises our heart rate and adrenalin levels and has been an important part in our species development.
That said, we’ve come a long way, and how anxiety typically manifests these days is different.
While sometimes a helpful emotion, anxiety can quickly be taken out of context and you may experience anxiety in situations you don’t want to. This is when anxiety may become an anxiety disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an anxiety disorder goes beyond occasional anxious thoughts and worries. An anxiety disorder occurs when these stressful and worrisome feelings don’t go away, and/or get worse over time.
Anxiety can become debilitating, making it difficult to function at work or school and can even interfere with relationships.
Anxiety can come in different forms, and there are different kinds of anxiety disorders which include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety
- Panic anxiety
While some anxiety disorders may have similar signs and symptoms, not everyone will experience the exact same thing. Here are some of the most common symptoms seen in each of the above anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
- Feeling restless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worried thoughts
- Sleep disruption
- Muscle tension
Related: Anxiety Quiz
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
- Fear of germs
- Intrusive thoughts
- Fear of not having what you may need
- Obsessing over superstitions
- Obsessing over order and symmetry where everything must be in the right place
- Double-checking things such as locks and the stove
- Counting, repeating words
Related: OCD Quiz
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
- Intrusive memories
- Avoiding talking or thinking about the traumatic event
- Feeling hopeless
- Having a lack of interest in things that used to bring you joy
- Emotional numbness
- Losing connection in relationships and feeling disconnected from those in your life
- Always being on guard
- Being easily startled
- Difficulty concentrating
- Having a hard time sleeping
Related: PTSD Treatment
Social Anxiety Symptoms
- Having a very intense fear of talking to strangers
- Fear of judgment
- Avoiding situations where you think you could be embarrassed
- Worrying that those around you may know that you are anxious
- Fast heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Digestive upset
Related: Online Psychiatrist Prescription
Panic Anxiety Symptoms
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling out of control
- Having this overall feeling of impending doom
What Causes Anxiety?
While there isn’t one single cause of anxiety, those with anxiety disorders may be triggered by certain situations or being under stress.
Stress is a big cause of anxiety, and this can come in the form of financial, work, or relationship stress. Traumatic events and even stress from an illness or a side effect from a medication can also cause anxiety.
Working with a medical professional and/or a mental health practitioner can be helpful in determining what your anxiety triggers are to better manage symptoms.
Read: How to Relieve Stress
How to Calm Anxiety
Untreated anxiety can interfere with day-to-day life, and can even increase the risk of digestive distress and heart disease.
Different therapeutic options like cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to be beneficial for anxiety disorders, and those suffering from anxiety attacks should speak with their doctor about treatment options.
Generally a combination of therapy and medication is beneficial for calming anxiety.
Some lifestyle changes can also be helpful for those dealing with anxiety.
Things like regular exercise, and stress-reduction through the practice of mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation may also help calm anxiety. Making this a regular part of your daily life is key.
Limiting things like caffeine that may make you feel more on edge and avoiding cigarette smoking are both two important lifestyle factors that may play a role in calming anxiety.
Get Anxiety Treatment Online
PlushCare connects patients with top doctors who are highly trained at treating anxiety, among other mental health conditions, such as depression.
Our doctors can diagnose your anxiety and together you will create a treatment plan. Typically anxiety treatment involves lifestyle changes and in some cases, medication.
PlushCare doctors can write prescriptions for anxiety medications and electronically send your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. They can also write refills for prescription you already have.
Ready to speak with a doctor today? Book now.
Read More About How To Deal With Anxiety
- Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder? | Anxiety Quiz
- Anxiety Treatment Online
- Can You Buy Anxiety Medication Online?
- Can Primary Care Doctors Prescribe Antidepressants?
Medical News Today. Anxiety in the West: It is on the Rise? Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322877
National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety Disorders. Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
WebMD. Causes of Anxiety. Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/causes-anxiety
Harvard Health Publishing. Anxiety and Physical Illness. Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/anxiety_and_physical_illness
NCBI. Exercise for Anxiety Disorders: Systemic Review. Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299048
PSYCOM. Anxiety and Caffeine. Accessed April 7, 2020 at https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-and-caffeine