What You Need to Know About Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of life, and many people feel anxious about things that are important to them. For example, you might be nervous before going to a job interview or before taking a test. But if you find yourself worrying about these events over and over again, you might have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can be healthy and beneficial, but it can also be debilitating. Anxiety can lead to depression and substance use disorders if it is not treated properly.
A person with an anxiety disorder experiences a long-lasting or excessive feeling of fear and worry that interferes with everyday life, such as work, school, or relationships. Symptoms may include trembling or shaking, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, or hot flashes.
Often, a person with an anxiety disorder begins to experience symptoms in childhood or adolescence. During this time, some individuals develop social anxiety (fear of talking in front of others) or panic attacks (fear of having an attack).
The exact causes of an anxiety disorder are unknown. However, research suggests that genetic factors may play a role in the development of anxiety disorders. For example, twin studies suggest that 30-40% of the variation in anxiety disorders may be due to genetics.
Environmental and psychological factors can also play a role in the development of anxiety. For example, a history of abuse or trauma can increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. In addition, having certain personality traits and other mental health problems such as depression can increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Treatment for anxiety typically consists of medication and counseling. Psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy, helps patients recognize and change negative thoughts and behaviors that cause the anxiety.
Exercise and meditation can help relieve anxiety. These activities improve self-image and release chemicals in the brain that can reduce symptoms.
Avoiding alcohol or drug use can also reduce anxiety. If you have a substance use problem, quitting can be difficult, but it can be a major step toward better emotional and physical health.
Getting support from friends and family can help alleviate the stress that anxiety can cause. Some people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a support group where they can interact with other sufferers and get advice on dealing with their condition.
The best way to treat anxiety is to get diagnosed by a doctor or a counselor and seek help early. If left untreated, anxiety can worsen and even become a disorder in its own right.
Anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress, but some people develop an anxiety disorder when they do not manage their reactions well. This can be a life-changing situation.
Some people have anxiety because of a medical condition, such as heart disease or a thyroid condition. Getting a complete physical exam by a doctor will help to rule out other medical conditions that might be causing the symptoms.
Some other risks for developing an anxiety disorder include childhood abuse, having a history of mental health disorders, and being a member of a minority group. These risk factors are usually inherited, but can be controlled by making lifestyle changes.