Earlier this year, Forbes published a compilation of statistics about mental health in the United States. For the purposes of this blog entry, we want to zero in on one particular stat that jumped out at us regarding the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the country:
Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder are some of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in the U.S., affecting 42.5 million adults.
It perhaps goes without saying that 42.5 million adults is a lot of people. And anxiety is on the rise among young people, too.
No wonder, then, that we have written quite a lot about anxiety in this blog. In this entry, we will bring some of the threads of previous entries on anxiety together.
If you have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, see a physician right away. Attempting to ignore the issue can lead to more severe problems and make treatment more difficult.
Symptoms to look for include:
- You do not seem to have the ability to control the fear or worry you are experiencing.
- Your ongoing anxiousness is interfering with school, work, relationships, or other areas of your life.
- You find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol in the hope of “self-medicating” your anxious feelings away.
- You suspect that your anxiousness may be connected to a physical health issue.
- You suspect it may be connected to another mental health disorder like depression.
- You are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
If you are dealing with generalized anxiety disorder, you simply cannot stop worrying. In a real sense, it doesn’t even matter what you are worrying about. The situations you find yourself in are, of course, constantly changing, but the sense of worry and anxiety is just ever-present. You might know that you are overreacting. You might know that a given situation is going to turn out okay. You might know that it is not normal to be experiencing anxiety all of the time without respite. But the disorder doesn’t care about these facts. It keeps you on edge anyway.
When you are in the grips of panic disorder, you can be so overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety that you can’t even think clearly about what you should do in order to find some relief. But panic disorder can be treated, and while that treatment may not eliminate all future panic attacks, it can result in real and ongoing improvement.
As is the case with so many mental health disorders, panic disorder is often best addressed by a combination of therapy (in this case, cognitive behavioral therapy is the usual approach) and medication.
Once you know what sort of disorder you are dealing with, you can work with your doctor and/or therapist to come up with the best options for treatment. This may involve a medication like buspirone, alprazolam, lorazepam, propranolol, or any of a number of other prescription drugs. Treatment may also involve psychotherapy (which, like anxiety disorders, has several varieties). Often the best course of action is to combine the two.
In addition, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may help address the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Practicing mindfulness or doing visualization exercises, physical exertion, good dietary and sleep habits, and more can often lessen the intensity of frequency of the anxiety you are experiencing.
There are also several prescription medications that can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and panic. Among the most commonly prescribed are alprazolam (Xanax) and buspirone (Buspar). These medications and others like them can be extremely effective in treating panic and anxiety, but they come with some risk as well—particularly for anyone with a history of substance use disorders. It is essential that you are open and honest about any problems you have had with drugs or alcohol when talking with a prescriber who suggests anti-anxiety medication. Similarly, you will want to make sure you stick strictly to the instructions for taking these medications so that they don’t lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
Here’s Something You Don’t Have to Worry About: Where to Get Mental Health Help
If you are struggling with an anxiety or panic disorder—or with any other kind of mental health disorder—we can help. At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are committed to providing personalized care grounded in empathy, evidence, and expertise. You can count on us to help you improve your mental health and to maintain those gains over time.
A mental health disorder can feel extremely isolating, but you do not have to face it alone. All of us at Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs are eager to help you overcome anxiety.