Have you ever felt nervous or excited for no apparent reason? Do simple problems lead you to extreme reactions? Are you overwhelmed with the feeling of panic during simple activities, such as driving a car or an argument about unimportant matters?
Anxiety is a normal part of life; however, when anxiety begins to interfere with your ability to enjoy everyday events and routines, it could be indicative of a more severe condition.
Table of Contents
Anxiety Manifests in Many Forms
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is marked by excessive nervousness when one is forced to be in social circumstances. While some individuals are painfully shy, those who suffer from this chronic psychological condition are fearful of these types of events. Meeting new people or interacting in an environment where they may be exposed to strangers can cause physical symptoms that are so disconcerting that the individual will withdraw from society as much as possible. Some individuals will suffer from agoraphobia, a condition which prevents them from ever leaving their home.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
When an individual is obsessed with unreasonable thoughts and fears, he may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This condition is recognized by the incessant need to complete tasks (known as ticks) via psychological or physical means. One of the most well-known symptoms is repeated washing of the hands, dozens of times per day and many times in a row, for fear of germs or other consequences. Other ticks might include breathing in a specific pattern, touching an object a specific number of times, counting items and feeling a compulsion to begin again when the count is lost, as well as other rituals.
- Panic Disorders
Panic disorder occurs when an individual experiences physical effects as a result of their fears. For instance, panic might be misconstrued as a heart attack with symptoms that mirror a myocardial infarction, such as shortness of breath, sweating, pain in the arm or jaw, and pressure in the chest. Panic attacks do not always appear when an individual feels panic or is exposed to an anxiety-causing event. They can occur at any time when an individual suffers from this disorder.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common form of anxiety disorder. When an individual is exposed to highly traumatic events, such as early childhood abuse or other life-changing events, he or she may develop anxiety at a later date, after the trauma has been removed. Prior to the recognition that the condition can occur in anyone, it was given just to soldiers returning from war. These soldiers, who exhibited great anxiety when they returned home, were said to be “shell shocked.” Further studies found the same symptoms and manifestations of anxiety in other segments of the population and the condition was broadened. PTSD can last for years, but the sooner an individual receives treatment, the more likely it is that the condition can be controlled and resolved.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a term given to a condition that is not diagnosed as any of the more severe forms of anxiety disorder.
Individuals who suffer from anxiety can be excluded from certain aspects of their lives unnecessarily. For instance, a social anxiety disorder can greatly affect one’s ability to perform certain functions at work, such as entertaining clients. This can lead to reduced opportunities for promotions and decreased earnings over time. Because anxiety can develop at any point, an individual whose job requires certain social obligations may find that they are unable to perform their jobs at all.
Other anxiety disorders can affect one’s ability to perform even simple tasks while working or socializing. Obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifests as a fear of germs might keep an individual in a public restroom for far longer than normal, simply because they are consumed with an inability to open the door to get out of the room. Many individuals who suffer from this kind of anxiety will learn ways in which to cope. In this example, for instance, an individual may watch for another patron to enter the restroom and count on the chance that they will be leaving at approximately the same time, thereby allowing the other individual to have contact with the door handle rather than them.
Linked to Drug Abuse and Addiction
Irrational fear and a misunderstanding of anxiety-related conditions can cause some individuals to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape the emotional pain they are in. Individuals who suffer from anxiety are more likely to seek prescription drugs, such as central nervous system depressants, to mitigate fear and panic. These drugs are addictive when taken more frequently than directed, which can lead an individual to become dependent even when this is not their intention.
When an individual suffers from drug addiction and any anxiety disorder, they have a dual diagnosis disorder that must be treated appropriately. The recovery process is important because the treatment for the addiction may mean removing the very medication that keeps the anxiety disorder at bay.
Alternative therapies for dealing with the anxiety may be in order to prevent further addictions. Some alternative therapies, when used in conjunction with traditional talk therapies and replacement medications, that have proven effective for some individuals are:
- Acupuncture and acupressure
Anxiety Is Marked by Distinct Characteristics
An individual suffering from anxiety will experience specific symptoms. These symptoms vary by the individual and the specific anxiety disorder that is present; however, many of the symptoms co-exist between disorders. For instance:
- Shaking or trembling
- Heart racing
- A sense of impending tragedy
- Feeling powerless
Anxiety Is Treatable
Despite the fact that the symptoms of anxiety can be life-altering, it is a treatable condition. In some cases, the symptoms are eliminated completely and the individual can lead a normal, anxiety-free life. Depending upon the specific type of anxiety an individual experiences, the treatments can range from medication and psychological counseling to long-term inpatient care at a residential facility.
One of the most common medications for anxiety is Xanax, which is a central nervous system depressant. As mentioned earlier, these drugs can become addictive so an individual who is prescribed the drugs should monitor himself (and ask family members and friends to monitor him, as well) for any signs of dependence, tolerance or addiction.
Signs of addiction might include:
- The need to take more of the drug in order to obtain the same effects previously felt with a smaller dosage
- Craving the drug regardless of anxiety levels
- Placing the need to consume the drug over other responsibilities, like work or school
- Continuing to use the drug despite harmful consequences to relationships or career, or legal issues
Psychological therapy is also beneficial for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Talking about one’s issues with a trained professional can create an environment where the patient can learn ways to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy manner. It is possible to manage anxiety without the use of medication in some circumstances, in fact.
Each insurance policy is different. The coverage is selected based upon how much the policy premiums cost both employers and employees, for instance. In many cases, however, there exists a certain amount of coverage for mental and nervous diagnoses. Anxiety generally falls into this category, and it is possible that some or all of the treatments by a psychologist or other professional counselor may be covered by the insurance benefits. To find out whether your insurance company covers treatment for anxiety or anxiety-related conditions, contact your insurance company or human resources department for information.
In the event no insurance is available, it is a good idea to find alternative methods for paying for treatment. Anxiety will not go away on its own and, in many cases, the condition will continue to get worse as it may lead to insomnia, depression and substance abuse. Many treatment facilities offer payment plans, thereby allowing most individuals to afford the treatment they need.
Instead of living in a closed, empty world filled with fear and resentment, an individual who suffers from anxiety can find themselves activity participating in the lives of their friends, family and children on a more consistent basis.
The benefits of seeking treatment are innumerable. Interpersonal relationships that have been damaged can be reestablished, and the negative effects on one’s career can be repaired.
No one should have to experience the unrelenting fear that comes from excessive anxiety. No one should be exposed to the dire consequences of possible drug and alcohol abuse or the painful physical symptoms that are caused by panic attacks or other anxiety-related episodes. When you choose to enter a treatment facility or obtain outpatient care, you are choosing to regain control of an existence that has felt out of control for far too long.
Give us a call today for information on our treatment programs. We are here to help.