Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of fear, uneasiness, or concern that something bad may happen. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as trembling, shaking, muscle aches, restlessness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and clammy hands.
If anxiety interferes with daily activities, a person may need treatment with medications (such as antidepressants or antianxiety medications) and/or professional counseling.
You can reduce anxiety and stress in your life by:
Taking slow, deep breaths.
Soaking in a warm bath.
Listening to soothing music.
Taking a walk or doing some other exercise.
Meditating or praying.
Taking a yoga class.
Having a massage or back rub.
Drinking a warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverage.
Changing some of your everyday habits also can reduce stress in your life:
Limit or eliminate caffeine and nicotine. Both caffeine and nicotine can trigger a panic attack in some people.
Avoid alcohol. It can cause sleep problems and depression. Drinking alcohol also can trigger a panic attack in some people.
Avoid using illegal drugs such as marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), sedatives, cocaine, and amphetamines (for example, speed). These can trigger a panic attack in some people.
Reduce or eliminate the use of certain nonprescription medications, such as some medications used to treat colds. These can trigger a panic attack in some people.
Anxiety disorders are real, serious and treatable. Experts believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors, much like other disorders, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care. Success of treatment varies with the individual. Some people may respond to treatment after a few months, while others may take a year or more. Treatment is sometimes complicated by the fact that people very often have more than one anxiety disorder, or suffer from depression or substance abuse. This is why treatment must be tailored to the individual.
Although treatment is individualized, there are several standard approaches that have proven to be effective. Therapists will use one, or a combination of these therapies.
The goal of Behavior Therapy is to modify and gain control over unwanted behavior. The individual learns to cope with difficult situations, often through controlled exposure to them. This kind of therapy gives the individual a sense of having control over their life.
The goal of Cognitive Therapy is to change unproductive or harmful thought patterns. The individual examines his feelings and learns to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts. As with Behavior Therapy, the individual is actively involved in his own recovery and has a sense of control.
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Many therapists use a combination of Cognitive and Behavior Therapies, this is often referred to as CBT. One of the benefits of these types therapies is that the patient learns recovery skills that are useful for a lifetime.
Relaxation Techniques help individuals develop the ability to more effectively cope with the stresses that contribute to anxiety, as well as with some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. The techniques taught include breathing re-training and exercise. Self-Hypnosis is a powerful, effective and 100% natural part of you...
Medication can be very useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and it is often used in conjunction with one or more of the therapies mentioned above. Sometimes anti-depressants or anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) are used to alleviate severe symptoms so that other forms of therapy can go forward. Medication is effective for many people and can be either a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on the individual.
Medications often used for chronic, severe, or generalized social anxiety disorder include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to relieve anxiety. SSRIs are often the first type of medication used to treat generalized social anxiety disorder.
Benzodiazepines, to relieve anxiety. They are fast-acting; however, they may be habit-forming and are not generally used in those with substance abuse problems.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), to relieve depression and anxiety. MAOIs have potentially serious side effects when they are taken with certain foods (such as some cheeses and red wine).
Beta-blockers, to reduce anxiety. Beta-blockers are sometimes used to treat physical symptoms of anxiety (such as tremors or rapid heart rate).
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs):
How Do They Work
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) affect brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and reduce anxiety and depression. SSRIs are used to reduce anxiety and depression associated with social anxiety disorder.
Side effects of SSRIs include: Dry mouth; Headache; Weight gain; Nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea; Feeling irritable or anxious; Problems sleeping; Drowsiness; Loss of sexual desire or ability; Tremor or shaky hands.
How Do They Work
Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers (sedatives) that prevent or reduce anxiety, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, seizures, and other problems by slowing down the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines are used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension associated with anxiety disorders.
Side effects benzodiazepines include: Drowsiness or dizziness; Lightheadedness; Fatigue; Blurred vision; Slurred speech; Memory loss; Muscle weakness.
Diazepam, otherwise known by its brand name Valium like other benzodiazepines, is addictive.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):
How Do They Work
These medications balance certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). When these brain chemicals are in proper balance, the symptoms of anxiety are reduced. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors do this by reducing the amount of monoamine oxidase, the substance that breaks down the neurotransmitters.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) usually are not the first medications given for anxiety because they have serious side effects when combined with certain foods and/or medications. They are usually given to people with anxiety who:
Did not get better with other antidepressants.
Cannot tolerate the side effects of other antidepressants.
Have a family or personal history of successful treatment with MAOIs.
Have unusual depression or anxiety symptoms.
Side effects MAOIs include: Difficulty getting to sleep; Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting; Dry mouth, blurred vision, and appetite changes; High blood pressure and changes in heart rate and rhythm; Muscle twitching and feelings of restlessness; Loss of sexual desire or ability; Weight gain; Negative interactions with other medications and some foods.
Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propranolol) are medications often used to treat high blood pressure and fast or irregular heart rates.
Beta-blockers may be used to treat people with mental health disorders, such as social anxiety disorder or schizophrenia, as they can prevent development of physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate or tremors of the hands. They are also used to treat the tremors and restlessness that are common side effects associated with medications (such as antipsychotics or mood stabilizers) used to treat schizophrenia.
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