As you may know, if you've read my posts this week, I have been unusually anxious lately. So as part of my therapy, I decided to blog about the disorder itself.
Anxiety happens to everyone. Fear is a survival mechanism that readies us for potential danger. It becomes a problem, however, when it interferes with everyday living and the ability to live one's best life.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year". In addition, "Women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime."
Anxiety comes in many forms: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I will only address the first three here.
Symptoms vary for each disorder. They include:
- Feelings of uneasiness with no obvious cause
- Feelings of fear/panic with no obvious cause
- Unwanted or obsessive negative thoughts
- Cold, sweaty hands/feet
- Numbness/tingling in hands/feet
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations/racing heart
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty sleeping
Effective treatment typically includes at least two of the following:
- Medication - prescribed by a psychiatrist or primary care physician after a doctor visit to rule out somatic sources
- Psychotherapy - talk therapy with a certified therapist or psychologist
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - see http://pink-hi-top-adventures.blogspot.com/2014/06/cbt.html
- Lifestyle changes - see http://pink-hi-top-adventures.blogspot.com/2014/05/physical-wellness-getting-back-on-track.html
For more information about anxiety disorders, check out the following:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
National Institute of Mental Health