Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms, History, and Today’s Treatments | Mass General Brigham

What is the difference between normal anxiety and anxiety disorders? What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder? How are anxiety disorders treated? Andrew J. Melaragno, M.D., M.S., Psychiatrist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discusses the history of anxiety disorders and how they are treated today.

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0:00 – Intro
0:15 – What is Anxiety?
0:31 – Symptoms
1:02 – History
1:32 – Today’s Treatments

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Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms, History, and Today’s Treatments | Mass General Brigham

How to Cope With Anxiety Symptoms and Attack Medication


How to Cope With Anxiety Symptoms and Attack Medication

Anxiety can be a crippling disorder that can prevent a person from coping with their daily routine. People who suffer from anxiety often find themselves avoiding everyday situations because they fear that others will notice them. They feel like they are in constant danger and that their mind is blank. Oftentimes, people mistake anxiety for a medical condition. Because of this, they may visit a number of hospitals and doctors. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are coping strategies for anxiety that can make all the difference.

The nervous feeling we experience is actually a natural echo of our fight-or-flight response. When we feel threatened, our body releases adrenalin, a chemical messenger that triggers the fight-or-flight response. This response prepares us to escape danger and stay alive. In modern times, however, we aren’t so worried about running away from danger. We are much more worried about our health, our work, and our family.

Fortunately, anxiety disorders respond well to both talk therapy and medication. While both treatments can be effective in some people, the choice depends on the severity of the disorder and the patient’s preference. Generally, therapy can help people overcome their fears and reframe their thoughts to prevent them from occurring. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing harmful thinking patterns, limiting distorted thinking, and challenging irrational beliefs.

Although the exact cause of anxiety is unknown, many factors are associated with it. Certain genes, environment, and brain biology may be factors. Symptoms of anxiety disorders include restlessness, tense feeling, and difficulty controlling thoughts. If these conditions are persistent, they may require medical treatment. Many people experience anxiety and fail to seek help, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible to overcome. Sometimes, anxiety is triggered by traumatic life events.

Some people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Those with GAD experience a high level of anxiety about everyday events, usually for at least six months. Another group of individuals suffer from a panic disorder, which is characterized by sudden, intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as a scary place. Individuals with panic disorder also have phobias, which are intense fears without any actual danger. Luckily, anxiety treatment can alleviate these symptoms.

Exposure therapy, on the other hand, involves gradually exposing the patient to situations or objects that cause anxiety in their daily lives. The aim is to let them face their fears without hurting themselves. Exposure therapy is a great option for overcoming anxiety and putting an end to the symptoms that can cause such damage. Ultimately, exposure therapy helps a person manage their anxiety and live a happier and healthier life. So, it is essential to seek treatment if you’re suffering from these symptoms.

While you can’t control the symptoms of anxiety, you can control the amount of stress and worry you experience. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises can help you relax and experience more emotional well-being. Another way to reduce anxiety is through exercise. Exercise is a proven natural stress buster. Try to exercise for at least thirty minutes each day. Rhythmic activities that involve moving parts are particularly effective. And last but not least, make sure you get enough sleep. You need seven to nine hours of sleep a day.

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