Anxiety is a normal response to stress. However, when it becomes hard to control and affects your day-to-day life, it can be disabling. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation and is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you stay alert for a challenging situation at work, study harder for an exam, or remain focused on an important speech. In general, it helps you cope.
Unfortunately, anxiety can also be disabling if it interferes with daily life. It can make you dread nonthreatening, day-to-day activities like riding the bus or talking to a coworker. Anxiety can also be a sudden attack of terror when there is no threat.
Physical symptoms may include weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, nausea, upset stomach, and dizziness.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders happen when excessive anxiety interferes with your everyday activities, such as going to work or school or spending time with friends or family. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States.
Major Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Those with GAD worry excessively about ordinary day-to-day issues like health, money, work, and family. With GAD, the mind often jumps to the worst-case scenario, even when there is little or no reason to worry. One may have muscle tension and other stress-related physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping or upset stomach.
Panic Disorder. A panic disorder is diagnosed when someone has sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger. Panic attacks may cause a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control. A fear of one’s own unexplained physical symptoms is also a sign of a panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or dying.
Social Phobia. A social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have an intense fear of being watched and judged by others. They may get embarrassed easily and often have panic attack symptoms.
Specific Phobia. A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Specific phobias could be fears of closed-in spaces, heights, water, objects, animals, or specific situations. People with specific phobias often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.
Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms. They all involve fear and dread about things that may happen now or in the future.
Other Conditions That Are Not Considered Anxiety Disorders But Are Similar
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). People with OCD have unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) that cause anxiety. They may check the oven or iron again and again or perform the same routine over and over to control the anxiety these thoughts cause. Often, the rituals end up controlling the person.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD starts after a scary event that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who gets PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, or the harm may have happened to a loved one or even a stranger.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?
Your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history. Your doctor may also do a physical exam or other tests to rule out other health problems that could be causing your symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when fear and dread of non-threatening situations, events, places, or objects become excessive and are uncontrollable. Anxiety disorders are also diagnosed if the anxiety has lasted for at least six months and interferes with social, work, family, or other aspects of daily life.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?
Treatment for anxiety disorders depends on the type of anxiety disorder you have and your personal history of health problems, violence, or abuse.
What If My Anxiety Disorder Comes Back?
Sometimes, symptoms of an anxiety disorder come back after you have finished treatment. This may happen during or after a stressful event. It may also occur without any warning.
You can also talk to your doctor about ways to identify and prevent anxiety from coming back. This may include writing down your feelings, or meeting with your counselor if you think your anxiety is uncontrollable.
Complementary or alternative medicine can also help manage anxiety disorders. Some alternative medicine therapies that may help anxiety are regular physical activity, which raises the level of brain chemicals that control mood and affect anxiety and depression. Studies show meditation may improve anxiety. Regular meditation may help by boosting activity in the area of your brain responsible for feelings of serenity and joy.
How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Other Health Conditions?
Anxiety disorders may affect other health problems that are common in women, including depression. Anxiety disorders can happen at the same time as depression. When this happens, treatment for both anxiety and depression may not be as effective. IBS symptoms are common in people with anxiety disorders. Worry can make IBS symptoms worse, especially gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as upset stomach or gas. GI symptoms can also be stressful and lead to more anxiety. Although treatments for IBS can help treat anxiety, it is important that you treat both conditions.
Anxiety disorders are common in women with certain diseases that cause chronic pain, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine.
Anxiety and depression increase the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for American women. Anxiety can also make recovery harder after a heart attack or stroke.
Stress and anxiety can trigger asthma attacks, while the shortness of breath and wheezing during asthma attacks can cause anxiety. Studies show that breathing retraining may help asthma control and ease anxiety.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.
The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.