What Is Anxiety and How to Treat It

In Diagnosis & Treatment by Dr. Clinton Osborn

Anxiety disorder affects over 40 million adults in the United States, which is equivalent to 18.1% of the population every year. Even though anxiety disorder is treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive adequate treatment.

These statistics are very concerning; it means that there are a lot of people suffering from this disorder, but only a small number of them are receiving the proper treatment. 

Since anxiety disorder is a mental condition, it may be seen as culturally unacceptable or a taboo to seek help or admit that there’s a problem. Because of the stigma, a lot of people are going through this issue without the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.   

Fortunately, GuruMD offers a confidential and nonjudgmental way for patients to see a doctor online at the comfort of their home and obtain the proper treatment and diagnosis. Keep in mind that if anxiety is left untreated, it can lead to other mental disorders that can be detrimental to a person’s life.

Because of the prevalence and complication of this disease, it’s essential to understand various aspects of it to gain confidence and control over the problem.

Related: How Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain?

What Is Anxiety?

According to The American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

Understanding the difference between an anxiety disorder and normal feelings of anxiety requires the help of a medical professional.

Ordinary anxiety such as starting a new job, taking an exam, or moving to a new place does not interfere with everyday life. These types of anxiety come and go, and it’s not something that requires attention. 

However, if the anxiety symptoms and problems begin to interfere with an individual’s daily life, then it’s essential to seek help. Anxiety disorder is the most common emotional problem that can affect anyone at any time and any age. This disorder entails constant symptoms of worrying and panicking that can negatively impact a person’s quality of life.

Talk to a board-certified physician to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for anxiety

What are the types of anxiety?

Here are various types of anxiety:

Panic

There are over 6 million people in the US that are diagnosed with panic disorder, and women are two times more likely to be affected than men. Panic disorder is a recurring panic attack at an unexpected time. Usually, patients with this problem often live in fear of the next attack.

Phobia

There are approximately 19 million adults in the United States that are suffering from phobia disorder. Phobia is the excessive fear of a situation, activity, or specific object.

Social

There are approximately 15 million adults in the United States that are suffering from a social anxiety disorder. This disorder entails the fear of being judged by others in a social situation.

OCD

One percent of the US population, which translates to 2.2 million adults are diagnosed with OCD. OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is basically the irrational thoughts that lead to constant repetitive behavior to alleviate the anxiety from these thoughts.

Separation

Separation anxiety disorder is the constant fear of being away from loved ones or home. While teenagers and adults can experience this disorder, separation anxiety disorder is most common in children as early as preschool age. While most children outgrow separation anxiety at about three years old, it’s prolonged for some kids, causing panic attacks that interfere with school or other daily activities. 

Illness 

Illness anxiety disorder is constant thoughts and anxiousness about one’s own health, also called hypochondria. Some common symptoms of illness anxiety disorder include repeatedly checking your body for signs of illness or disease, worrying excessively about a specific medical condition, avoiding people, places or activities because of potential health risks, and frequently searching the internet for causes of symptoms of possible illnesses. 

PTSD

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in a nutshell, is anxiety following a traumatic event. It is prevalent in rape victims, childhood sexual abuse, and people serving in the military.  It affects 3.5% or $7.7 million people in the US population. 

Don’t let anxiety take over, talk to a doctor today!!

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is equivalent to 3.1% of the U.S. population, but only 43.2% are receiving the proper treatment. In addition to that, women are two times more likely than men to get affected, and the worse part is that GAD often coexists with Major Depressive Disorder.

 To be diagnosed with GAD, the patient would have to worry about multiple aspects of their life for at least six months. These excessive worries have to be very debilitating to the point of negatively impacting their day to day life. The treatment of choice is usually a combination of therapy and antidepressant, like SSRI, and an alternative medication would be Buspirone.

Related: Why should I use an Online Doctor?

What are the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?

a woman with her hand on her forehead and the other hand reached out.

Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but the common symptoms are:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty falling asleep

What Is An Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is an overwhelming feeling of distress, fear, worry, or apprehension. Some individuals have a gradual onset, while others would have a sudden onset. It varies from one individual to another, but the common symptoms of anxiety attacks include sweating, dry mouth, dizziness, shortness of breath, restlessness, hot flash, fear, and numbness or tingling.

What Causes Anxiety?

When it comes to the cause of anxiety, various factors are involved. It can be due to brain chemistry, abnormally high chemical signals of adrenaline hormones, genetic issues, or environmental factors.

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How to Diagnose Anxiety?

Proper mental health evaluation and psychological questions from a healthcare provider can pinpoint the issue. For example, Guru MD provides board-certified doctors who can interview the patient through a video to obtain the proper diagnosis to initiate the appropriate treatment.

 The doctor may also ask about the patient’s medication list to rule out potential side effects. He or she may send the patient out for a blood or urine test to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could contribute to the anxiety symptoms.

What Are The Treatment of Anxiety?

The stress sign is pointed to the left while the relax sign is pointed to the right

 The first step is to find any underlying condition or to change a particular medication that could induce the anxiety symptom. The next is consultation about lifestyle modification to cope with the symptoms. Once a proper diagnosis is initiated, the healthcare provider can explore various treatment options with the patient.

The provider may offer lifestyle advice such as meditation, exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, avoiding caffeine, avoiding alcohol, and quitting cigarettes.

In moderate cases, simple lifestyle changes can help overcome the symptom to live a more manageable life. However, if these changes don’t help, then medication and therapy would be the most reliable treatment strategy to help the individual cope with anxiety. The most common medicines the doctors often prescribe is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI along with weekly cognitive therapy sessions.

Related: Anxiety Relief with the Power of Telemedicine

Can Anxiety And Depression Happen At The Same Time?

Fifty percent of patients diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Even though anxiety and depression can occur separately, it’s not uncommon for these mental disorders to happen together. 

Keep in mind that anxiety can be a symptom of major depression or vice versa. Anxiety disorder can also exacerbate the symptoms of depression. Fortunately, both of these mental problems can be treated with psychotherapy, lifestyle modification, and medication such as SSRI.

How To Help Children With Anxiety?

One in eight children will experience an anxiety disorder. In a healthy environment, a child can learn from their friends, caretakers, or parents the proper way to cope with anxiety. However, anxiety in children can become chronic and be debilitating to their day-to-day lives. Anxiety can affect the way a child interacts with their peers or family members as well as their daily activities. 

The common symptoms of anxiety in children are:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Shame
  • Feeling of fear
  • Constant isolation

The anxiety treatment for children includes talk therapy and medication.

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How to Help Teens With Anxiety?

Teenagers are constantly worrying about school, exams, college, extracurricular activity, peer pressure, and finding themselves. Because of all these factors that they are juggling, teenagers are prone to anxiety disorder. The common symptoms of anxiety in teenagers are shyness, isolation, avoidance, and nervousness.

 In fact, anxiety in teens may lead to abnormal behavior of poor grades in school, acting out, skipping social events, substance abuse, or cutting behavior. 

Sometimes, depression and anxiety can occur together, which may require the proper diagnosis and treatment. The most common treatment for anxiety in teenagers is medication, such as SSRI and talk therapy. If anxiety is left untreated, it can continue during adulthood, increase in severity, lead to other mental issues such as depression and bipolar, and possibly suicide.

Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety are very similar. Stress is the demand and pressure on the brain and body. It is often caused by an event or activity that makes the individual worry. Anxiety can be the reaction towards stress, but it can occur for no apparent reason at all. Both anxiety and stress can result in symptoms of stomach ache, fast heartbeat, headache, dizziness, sweating, muscle tension, rapid breathing, nervousness, panic, restlessness, anger, difficulty concentrating, and insomnia. 

Both anxiety or stress is not necessarily a bad thing; it can serve as an extra boost to complete a project or accomplish a task. However, if these two factors become persistent and interfere with one’s daily life, then it’s essential to seek help. 

Related: Where and when can I use Telemedicine and what is the cost?

Anxiety and Alcohol

Some people drink alcohol to reduce their stress and anxiety. It can be a normal and relaxing activity to suppress the central nervous system. In a social setting, people would order an alcoholic drink from the bar, so they let their guard down while socializing with their peers. 

Unfortunately, some people with anxiety disorder might end up abusing other drugs or alcohol to cope with the problem. This can ultimately lead to addiction and dependency that can have a negative impact on their lives.

 With this situation, it is essential to treat the drug or alcohol problem before addressing the anxiety. Long-term drug or alcohol use can make the condition worse, so it’s vital to understand how alcohol can exacerbate anxiety disorder.

Anxiety and Food

Healthy salad, fig, bread, cheese

The right food can increase dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin levels to reduce stress and anxiety. That is why some people eat more during times of stress. However, unhealthy food can lead to the accumulation of fat and weight gain that can cause high blood sugar and cortisol level, which are stress hormones that can aggravate anxiety. This is why eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables, turmeric, salmon, yogurt, green tea, and dark chocolate can enhance focus, decrease stress, reduce blood sugar level, and decrease cholesterol. All of which play a significant role in treating anxiety disorder.

Talk to a healthcare provider today, and get the help that you need!!

Conclusion

Getting help for anxiety disorder does not have to be painful anymore. With Guru MD, patients can speak to a board-certified physician in secrecy. All they have to do is open up the computer, and the rest is history. 

The doctor will interview the patient to rule out medication side effects and other medical conditions. They can offer lifestyle consultation and changes to reduce anxiety as well as writing a prescription for the proper medication and specialist for talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. 

It’s both the convenience and privacy that can encourage anyone to seek help without any judgment. With all the benefits of telemedicine, check out Guru MD to get help immediately!!

Related: Telemedicine, Why?