Anxiety has become a common mental health concern in the modern society. This condition can be triggered due to a variety of psychological, physical, emotional or nutritional factors. Anxiety can be defined as a normal reaction of our body to stressful situations that we face daily. Anxiety in fact helps us to find a solution to difficult situations and deal with them appropriately. However, when the anxiety becomes so uncontrollable that it interferes with the routine behavior and functions of a person is when it needs to be treated. It has been estimated that anxiety disorder is found in one of every five people in the United States.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by intense irrepressible nagging fear, worry and uncertain thoughts. These emotional symptoms are accompanied by physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, aches, chest pains, sleep disorders, irritability and sweating. People suffering from this disorder are pessimistic and withdrawn. Anxiety disorders can be categorized into generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
Anxiety disorders are often a result of many factors overlapping each other. It is imperative that the person honestly explains to the doctor any history of mental health problems, the underlying symptoms, medications, drug abuse or any stressful event that might have triggered this condition which would help the medical practitioner design the treatment options.
Screening tests like Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, the Beck Anxiety Inventory and many others are conducted to determine the causes, frequency and the severity of the condition.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders:
Though the treatment options for individual types of anxiety disorders may vary with the condition the following are general treatment options for anxiety disorder:
The normal course of treatment would be a combination of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and anti depression medication. A change in lifestyle with rest, relaxation, exercise and healthy food will also help in bringing about a marked change in the condition.
Medications: Generally serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) are administered initially to combat the condition. If there is no relief from the symptoms the patients are then administered benzodiazepines which give faster relief from symptoms though this cannot be administered on a long term basis. If the condition is chronic then tricyclic anti depressants are prescribed. Beta blockers and atypical antipsychotics are also prescribed for specific problems and conditions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Medicines along with CBT has been found to be the best solution for treating anxiety. CBT helps the patient to take control of their reactions to stress. It helps the patient to recognize the thoughts which produce anxiety and alter their reactions to it.
Systematic Desensitization: The patient identifies the anxiety causing situations and is advised to confront and deal with the least stressful situation.
Exposure and Response Treatment: This treatment exposes the patient to the most fearful anxiety causing stimulus till a stage where the stimulus loses its effect over the patient.
Talk Therapy: This kind of treatment helps the patient to address the root cause of the anxiety and is usually of a longer duration.
There are numerous other treatments such as relaxation techniques, bio feedback, breathing retraining which are used to reduce the physical consequences of the anxiety attacks. Hypnosis is also sometimes used with CBT. Deep breathing techniques also help.
It is to be understood that anxiety disorders are a perfectly treatable condition and a person who is experiencing it should seek professional help as soon as possible to relieve himself from it.