Mental Health Discussion: Anxiety
Anxiety is a term used often these days, and understandably—the world is a lil nuts. Studies show that Americans are feeling more anxiety than ever and for some, anxiety is paralyzing, terrifying, and frustrating.
What Is Anxiety?
So, what exactly is “legit” anxiety disorder? The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines it as this:
“People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about a number of things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. The fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work.”
Symptoms include muscle tension, irritability, feeling restless and wound-up/on-edge, difficulty sleeping, and uncontrollable worry.
A common side effect of anxiety is panic attacks. A panic attack can show itself through shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, and trembling. You may also find yourself feeling out of control and like something horrible is about to happen.
For some people, they become so afraid of their panic attacks that they’ll avoid people, places, and activities that may cause one. It is a paralyzing and terrifying experience. Phobias also can fall under the anxiety umbrella based on these symptoms—agoraphobia (fear of going out into the world), social anxiety, separation anxiety (common in children), and blood or heights can manifest from the source of anxiety and cause paranoia and withdrawal from the world.
How Anxiety is Treated
Therapy is an amazing, helpful tool for those living with anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—a facet of psychotherapy—can help people learn new habits and how to manage their anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
Medication is also an option for some people to combat the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Common medications prescribed include anti-anxiety meds (like benzodiazepines), antidepressants, and beta-blockers (NIH).
For some, meditation, mindfulness, exercise can also help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. So if you're into a more all-natural approach, there's hope for you too!
No matter what: If you have anxiety, there is no reason to be ashamed. Whether you choose medication, therapy, meditation, or all of the above, you are strong for facing it head-on, and it is not your fault—so don’t go blaming yourself. Not on our watch! You got this!