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What is Anxiety and How Can it Affect Your Life?

Anxiety is the body’s natural reaction to stress. It’s your brain’s way of warning you that there is a danger ahead, and it releases stress hormones to prepare you for it.

But if you feel anxious most of the time, it can interfere with your life and cause problems. Then you may have an anxiety disorder.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias. Each has its own set of symptoms.

A person with anxiety disorder will have feelings of fear or dread, often that last for months and interfere with daily life. These fears may include worries about health, money, work, relationships or school. They can also be related to memories of a past traumatic event or a stressful situation.

Panic attacks are the most common symptom of an anxiety disorder, and they usually start suddenly. They may be followed by other physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and trembling.

Your health care provider can make a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and treat it. They’ll examine you, order lab tests and ask questions about your symptoms. If they think your condition is more serious than simple stress, they’ll refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Treatment of an anxiety disorder involves medication and psychotherapy. Your doctor will tailor a treatment plan to fit your needs and preferences.

Medication can help ease the physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as racing heartbeat and trembling. They may be given as a single drug or in combination with other medications.

Beta-blockers, used to control high blood pressure, are helpful for some people with anxiety disorders, especially when they feel like their heartbeat is fast or pounding. Your healthcare provider can prescribe them along with other anti-anxiety drugs, such as Xanax or Zoloft. They can be taken as a pill, liquid or spray and come in different strengths to fit your individual needs.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your progress and check for side effects as you take the medication, such as dizziness or drowsiness. Your provider can also adjust the dosage if you feel like it’s not working as well as it should.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, and it teaches you to change the thoughts and behavior that lead to your worries. You can do it alone or with a therapist.

Changing your diet, lifestyle and stress management can also relieve some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Try changing the foods you eat, getting regular exercise and trying breathing techniques.

Another effective anxiety treatment is talk therapy, which can help you understand your worries and find ways to cope with them. It can be done in person, by phone or online.

Psychotherapy can also teach you how to manage stress and cope with everyday events, which can help reduce the feelings of anxiety. These treatments can be done in person or by phone, and they typically involve 6 weekly sessions lasting 2 hours each.

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