We all have plenty to worry about. Day in and day out, we have stressors at home, at work, in our communities, in our country, and around the world. Problems build on problems, and solutions are slow in coming. So it is only natural that many of us feel a sense of anxiety from time to time.
But for nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States (that is nearly one in every five individuals), anxiety is not necessarily caused by specific problems or concerns. Instead, the feelings and symptoms we associate with anxiety—increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, an upset stomach, a general sense of nervousness or of being keyed up, and more—are persistent, no matter what is going on in a person’s life.
Persistent anxiety is the hallmark of an anxiety disorder—that most prevalent kind of mental health disorder in the United States.
Some Symptoms You Really Should Worry About
We have noted some of the physical symptoms that we tend to connect with anxiety, but there are some other markers to be on the lookout for. They include (but are not limited to):
- An inability to control or overcome the fear, nervousness, or worry you feel
- A sense that it is interfering with your ability to succeed at work, in school, in relationships, or in other areas of your daily life
- A decision to “self-medicate” via drugs or alcohol as a way to try to manage the feelings of anxiety
- A suspicion that a physical or mental health issue might be causing or contributing to it
In addition to all of those markers and others like them, there is one more that must be highlighted. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. In any event—whether those suicidal thoughts are stemming from anxiety or not—you must get help immediately. Beginning July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day by dialing 988.
Anxiety Disorders Come in a Range of Flavors
As if you are not already anxious enough about disorders, we must note that several different disorders fall under that broad heading. Among them:
- Anxiety disorders related to the use of substances, whether those substances are prescribed and used correctly or are illicit and used to excess
- Anxiety disorders related to physical conditions, which may include chronic pain, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory disorders, and heart disease
- Social anxiety disorder, which makes it difficult to participate in—or even think about—various social situations due to an extreme sense of self-consciousness and a fear of being judged by others
- Panic disorder, which is characterized by frequent panic attacks (which can feel as though fear and anxiety are suddenly and relentlessly pummeling your body and mind; in some cases these attacks can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack)
- Generalized anxiety disorder, which is diagnosed when an individual experiences excessive, ongoing worry that disrupts daily life.
The first step toward addressing an anxiety disorder is getting an accurate diagnosis from . It is important to be honest with your doctor about what you are feeling and how it impacts your life so that an accurate diagnosis can be made.
After Diagnosis Comes Treatment
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.
Don’t Worry. We Can Help.
Anxiety can be truly overwhelming. In fact, it can make it hard to function effectively in the world—and that means it can make it difficult to reach out for help. But that is truly the best thing you can do.
At Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs, we have the expertise and the compassion necessary to help you address an anxiety disorder in meaningful and effective ways. It’s the first step toward reclaiming your inner calm. We encourage you to take that step today.