Feeling anxious? How to tell normal anxiety from anxiety disorders
More people suffer from anxiety disorders than any other mental illness in the United States. About 40 million adults suffer from these disorders, yet only 37% ever receive the treatment they need. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders do not know that their anxious feelings have reached more serious levels. So, how do you discern normal anxiety from anxiety disorders?
Common feelings of anxiety
Everyone gets anxiety at some point. Whether it be your first day of school, a job interview, or another nerve-wracking event, anxiety can show itself by exhibiting signs of nervousness, unease, worry, and stress. These are all natural feelings that have actually served an evolutionary purpose. As our brains evolved, we began to develop natural triggers to help us avoid danger or solve an immediate problem. Anxiety is one of these triggers. As humans evolved more, though, these dangers and immediate problems were less prevalent. The mind is used to worrying as a means to an end, to get one to focus on solving a problem. Anxiety can be motivating in the sense that it gets you prepared for an important day or event. However, some problems we face today are more long term or complex than when we began evolving, which can produce long-term anxiety. If you experience disruptions in your daily life due to anxiety, it may be time to speak with a professional.
Anxiety disorders explained
If you experience long-term anxiety that gets in the way of work, school, or other daily activities, you may suffer from an anxiety disorder. These issues can be triggered by just about anything. Anxiety is often times obsessive, illogical, and hard to understand. One type of anxiety disorder is specific phobias when people are deathly afraid of clowns, heights, public speaking, small spaces, or other things. Other people may feel anxiety in social situations. They are afraid of being embarrassed and humiliated in front of new people. If someone suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, they may feel anxiety about anything and everything. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include feeling a sense of impending doom, irritability, increased heart rate, fatigue, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and gastrointestinal problems. Other types of anxiety disorders include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and PTSD.
Medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and wellness routines can all be utilized to help treat different anxiety disorders. If you think your anxiety is getting in the way of your daily life, call your doctor to discuss what treatment option is right for you. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, and treatment is tailored to fit each patient’s needs.
Concerning prescription medications, doctors may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines to patients suffering from anxiety disorders. Although they cannot be legally prescribed, cannabis and the cannabis compound CBD has been shown anecdotally to help manage anxiety. While these medications are utilized to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, they don’t always get to the inherent issue causing anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, on the other hand, can help patients face their fears and let go of anxious feelings. Some doctors or therapists may also recommend lifestyle changes to help ease feelings of anxiety. Meditation, breathing techniques, exercise and mindfulness activities are a few strategies some people use to keep anxiety at bay. However, it’s important to always talk to your doctor before trying any non-prescribed medication and therapies so they can inform you about which option is best. Although anxiety is a common feeling, it doesn’t have to be life-ruining. Seek help today if you think you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder rather than normal anxious feelings.