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Anxiety disorders, anxiety vs stress, how to cope with anxiety and how therapy can help.

General Questions

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress, developed to keep the mind and body alert during short periods of time that require additional care.

Anxiety is a natural reaction, but it can become an issue when individuals develop anxiety disorders or patterns of anxiety related to events or situations that may not warrant reaction, or the unpleasant side effects that accompany a high-stress state.

What Are the Five Types of Anxiety?

Anxiety can take many forms, including normal reactions to stressful situations such as job interviews or public speaking engagements. When individuals experience chronic and repetitive anxiety, they may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders can be divided into five major types:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Anxiety, worry or tension toward certain situations or environments.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Characterized by recurring and unwanted thoughts or behaviors and rituals done with the intention of preventing these thoughts or behaviors.
  • Panic Disorder – Intense and unexpected episodes of intense fear or worry with accompanying physical reactions such as chest pains, nausea, etc.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – An anxiety disorder that develops after an exposure to a traumatic situation, event or ordeal.
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder) – Exceptional fear, anxiety or self-consciousness in one or many common social situations (speaking, eating, etc.)
What Are the Main Symptoms of Anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms may vary by individual and situation, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Racing thoughts and overthinking
  • Feelings of panic or dread
  • Difficulty concentrating and irritableness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping or staying alert
  • Changes in appetite
  • Chest pains or shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
How Does Anxiety Make You Feel?

Anxiety is characterized by a state of high alertness in which you may experience racing thoughts, dread or trouble concentrating not entirely appropriate for the situation you face. This can often come with physical symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath or, in some cases, chest pains and heart palpitations.

What Are the Main Causes of Anxiety?

There are many things that can cause anxiety, depending both on the type of the anxiety disorder as well as the specific individual’s personality type. Often, the situations may evolve, resolve or change over time – meaning that individuals may experience the same or different symptoms of anxiety toward different things throughout their mental health journey.

Do I Have Anxiety or Am I Just Stressed?

It is normal for you to feel stressed in uncertain situations, when facing upcoming deadlines or in the midst of interrelational strife (among other situations). The stress may transition into anxiety when racing thoughts, feelings of dread and physical or mental symptoms that you are experiencing are not appropriate for the situation you find yourself in.

How Are You Tested for Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders can be diagnosed by your primary care physician or a mental health professional by asking about your symptoms and the situations that cause them. It is important to note that some physical medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism can cause or worsen symptoms of anxiety disorders, so a physical examination and/or blood test may be helpful.

Coping With Anxiety

How Do I Cope With Anxiety?

Coping with anxiety is more about controlling your stressors and your reaction to them than looking to cure yourself of anxiety entirely or avoid those situations which worsen them. General wellness practices can be a great place to start:

  • Take some time for yourself to destress
  • Keep a mental health/wellness journal to track your progress
  • Avoid alcohol and/or caffeine
  • Prioritize rest and, more specifically, sleep
  • Develop and maintain an exercise routine
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Seek out a mental health professional
How Long Can Anxiety Last?

While anxiety (or “panic”) attacks are temporary in nature, usually peaking within 10 minutes and rarely lasting more than 30 minute, anxiety disorders are cyclical in nature and may affect individuals for months, years or even a lifetime.

The important thing to remember is that while individuals may struggle with anxiety for this period, no two days or weeks will be the same.There will be periods of time in which they may experience no anxiety, followed by others that are more intense. A proper anxiety care plan can allow these individuals to destress and live healthy, balanced lives.

Can Your Body Be in a Constant State of Anxiety?

If unmanaged, anxiety can cause individuals to be in a constant state of stress. It is important to learn techniques to manage stress and reframe difficult situations in order to reduce stress and help manage personal reactions to stressful situations.

How Can You Reduce the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

The physical symptoms that often accompany anxiety attacks (racing heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, etc.) can be reduced through coping techniques such as breathing exercises and reframing,

Can Anxiety Go Away With Time?

It is possible for individuals to grow out of anxiety triggers; however, it is also important to note that new anxieties may develop over time. A proper wellness routine and prioritizing mental health can help individuals overcome anxiety symptoms and triggers.

Can Anxiety Be Cured?

While there is no cure for excessive anxiety, there are a number of helpful treatments for anxiety disorders, ranging from therapy techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma therapy to mental health medications.

Anxiety and Therapy

What Therapy Is Best for Anxiety?

Therapists may use a variety of techniques to help individuals with anxiety disorders overcome their triggers and lesson their symptoms, but the most common of these is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What Is CBT for Anxiety?

CBT involves helping individuals reframe difficult situations to better understand them as they are and to react in a way that is appropriate to the stimulus of the situation.

Do You See a Therapist for Anxiety?

You can absolutely see a therapist for anxiety, and in fact, we recommend it (although we’re biased)! Therapists can help you understand your situation, what exactly it is that is triggering the reaction, how to overcome this difficult situation, and where to go from there.

How Long Does Therapy Take for Anxiety?

The exact length of time that you may want to work with a therapist may vary on a number of individual factors, but you will likely see benefits from your work with your therapist quite quickly. They will often help you talk through issues while giving you tasks to practice with throughout the week. The more you invest in your own treatment, the better the results will be.

What Can Be Done for Severe Anxiety?

Individuals experiencing severe anxiety will likely see the most benefit from a comprehensive care plan. This may involve talking with a therapist on an ongoing basis, developing personal healthy habits such as exercise and diet, learning de-stressing techniques such as CBT and breathing exercises, and perhaps also seeing a psychiatrist who can prescribe the proper medication for them.

While that may seem overwhelming, the opposite is true! This type of care plan will help the individual regain control over their lives and improve their overall wellness in the long term.

Is Therapy Better Than Medication for Anxiety?

If medication can be avoided, then that is always the first avenue to pursue. But if medication is needed to help manage severe or chronic symptoms, then therapy will still be a necessary and extremely helpful addition to your care plan, and the appropriate place to start.

Anxiety and Your Health

What Can Anxiety Do to Your Body?

As a cause of stress, anxiety can have both short and long term effects on your body. In the short term, anxiety may increase your breathing or heart rate, causing you to feel sick, get lightheaded and struggle to concentrate or think clearly.

In the long term, these same symptoms may affect your cardiovascular system, digestive system, immune system or respiratory system.

That being said, this is not something for most people to worry about, as anxiety can be managed through many mental health resources available today through talk therapy and medications.

Is Anxiety a Mental Illness?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, but it’s important that we distinguish between anxiety disorders and anxiety toward common situations, such as job interviews or public speaking. The latter is a natural reaction to a stressful situation, and therefore it would not be classified as a mental illness.

Do You Need to Take Medicine for Anxiety?

It is often not necessary to take medicine in order to treat anxiety disorders. Often, talk therapy and self-care practices can allow individuals to overcome triggers and live a happy and healthy life.

A therapist can be a great resource to best understand your situation and let you know what medication might be helpful for you. And it’s often true that even in these cases medication may provide a temporary assistance, and not a permanent solution to your anxiety disorder.

What Is the Best Medicine for Anxiety Attacks?

Thankfully, mental health medications have come a long way, with many different medicines available to help prevent or help lessen the effects of anxiety attacks. Your therapist can help work with a licensed psychiatrist to determine the right course of medications for you, if needed.