Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, or from a combination of these.
Causes Of Anxiety
- Stress at work
- Stress from school
- Stress in a personal relationship such as marriage or friendships
- Financial stress
- Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, victimization by crime, physical abuse or sexual abuse (for example, acute stress disorder or post traumatic stress disorder)
- Stress from a serious medical illness
- Side effects of medication
- Intoxication (being “high” on) with an illicit drug, such as cocaine or amphetamines
- Withdrawal from an illicit drug, such as opiates (for example, heroin) or from prescription drugs like Vicodin, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates
- Symptoms of a medical illness
- Lack of oxygen: In circumstances as diverse as high altitude sickness, emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot with the vessels of the lung)
Symptoms Of Anxiety
- Shortness of breath
- Sense of choking
- Chest pain
- Nausea or other stomach upset
- A feeling of being detached from the world (derealization)
- Being unable to think, feeling as if the mind has gone blank
- Fear of dying
- Numbness or tingling
- Chills or hot flashes
The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for you.
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills to improve your symptoms and gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. CBT includes exposure therapy, in which you gradually encounter the object or situation that triggers your anxiety so you build confidence that you can manage the situation and anxiety symptoms.
Several types of medications are used to help relieve symptoms, depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have and whether you also have other mental or physical health issues.
- Certain antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety disorders.
- An anti-anxiety medication called buspirone may be prescribed.
- In limited circumstances, your doctor may prescribe other types of medications, such as sedatives, also called benzodiazepines, or beta blockers. These medications are for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms and are not intended to be used long term.
Talk with our doctors about benefits, risks and possible side effects of medications.