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Anxiety Disorders

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point; however, for people with anxiety disorders, experiencing worry and fear isn’t just an occasional occurrence; it is an everyday part of their lives. 

Experiencing frequent anxiety can lead to interference with your daily activities. It can lead you to avoid both situations and places that provoke feelings of anxiety in you. There are many different types of anxiety disorders; however, the good news is there is treatment and help for anxiety. 

Common Anxiety Symptoms

Although there are many different types of anxiety disorders, there is some commonality in the symptoms that characterize them. 

  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about things other than what you are worrying about
  • Trouble sleeping through the night
  • Issues with controlling feelings of worry
  • Nervousness
  • Frequent bouts of restlessness and being tense 
  • An impending sense of doom and panic
  • Increased heart rate, not associated with physical activity
  • Profuse sweating or trembling
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Tiredness 
  • Gastrointestinal problems

It's important to note that men and women often exhibit anxiety symptoms differently and your psychiatrist should be trained to take these differences into account.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

Researchers don’t fully understand or know what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect that a variety of factors contribute to someone experiencing an anxiety disorder. 

Three commonly believed causes of anxiety disorders are chemical imbalance, environmental factors, and heredity. 

  • Chemical imbalance: When you experience long-lasting stress, it can change the chemical balance in your brain that controls your mood. Extended stress could lead to an anxiety disorder. 
  • Heredity: If one or both of your parents have an anxiety disorder, it increases the chance that you may have an anxiety disorder. 
  • Environmental factors: When you experience trauma, it can trigger an anxiety disorder. If you have a hereditary disposition towards an anxiety disorder, environmental factors can be more triggering. 
  • Medical causes: Anxiety has been linked to specific medical conditions and can be a side effect of some medications. 

Risk Factors

There is a range of risk factors that people with an anxiety disorder are likely to have. These factors do not guarantee one will develop an anxiety disorder, but they do increase the chance of developing one. 

  • Drugs and alcohol: Both using and misusing drugs and alcohol can cause and worsen anxiety. Also, withdrawing from drugs and alcohol use can contribute to anxiety. 
  • Other mental health disorders: If you suffer from another mental health disorder, such as depression, your chance of suffering from an anxiety disorder increases.
  • Blood relatives with an anxiety disorder: If you have a direct blood relative with an anxiety disorder, you have an increased chance of having an anxiety disorder.
  • Illness: if you have a serious illness or health condition, which can lead to worry about the condition, it can lead to anxiety. 
  • Trauma: Adults who experience a traumatic event are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. Children who experience trauma, witness traumatic events, or experience abuse are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. 
  • Personality type: Certain personality types are more prone to developing an anxiety disorder than others. 
  • Stressful life situations: A big event, or lots of smaller stressors, can add up and trigger an anxiety disorder. 

When to See a Doctor

Many people struggle with knowing what normal anxiety is and when professional help is needed. Here are a few signs that you need to see a doctor about your anxiety: 

  • If your worrying interferes with daily life, work, relationships, and pleasurable activities
  • If you feel you can’t control your worry, fear, and anxiety
  • If your feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety make you upset
  • If you are feeling depressed
  • If you use drugs or alcohol to cope with your anxiety
  • If you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • If you think your anxiety is impacting you physically

If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, it isn’t going to disappear on its own. Get in touch with Axis Integrated Mental Health to get the treatment and help you need. 

Complications from Anxiety Disorders

Having an anxiety disorder can impact your quality of life in numerous ways. In addition to feelings of worry that impact your ability to function, anxiety can also lead to additional complications. It can sap your energy, take your time and focus away from other activities you enjoy, and increase your risk of depression. 

Generalized anxiety disorder can also worsen or lead to other health conditions, such as:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sleep issues, including insomnia
  • Digestive and bowel problems, including ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain and illness
  • Heart-health issues

Additionally, a generalized anxiety disorder can occur alongside other mental health issues, making diagnosis and treatment more complicated. These include mental health disorders such as:

How Anxiety Disorders Are Diagnosed

Generally, an anxiety diagnosis is given by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, a mental health professional specializing in treating mental illnesses.

To reach a diagnosis of anxiety disorder, they will use special interview questions and assessment questions. They will pay special attention to your reported symptoms, how intense they are, and how long they last. They will discuss with you how your symptoms impact your daily life. 

They may also use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) published by The American Psychiatric Association to assist with your diagnosis. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are various types of anxiety disorders, each with unique characteristics and traits. It is important to learn what type of anxiety disorder you have, so you can get the exact treatment you need. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorder. It is when you experience persistent worry that gets in the way of your everyday activities and life. Your worry may focus on the everyday parts of life, such as your job, family responsibilities, chores, or appointments. 

This level of ongoing worry can lead to physical symptoms. For example, you may have trouble sleeping, tense muscles, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness. 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by feelings of intense fear that are accompanied by physical symptoms, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal distress
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain 

With panic disorder, you may experience panic attacks that occur and escalate rapidly. Panic disorders often happen after one experiences prolonged stress or a frightening experience. However, panic disorder doesn’t always have a trigger.

Specific Phobia

Specific phobia is when you have an irrational fear of a specific situation, person, or object. Simply thinking about the situation, person, or object in question can bring on anxiety symptoms, even if you have the knowledge that the fear is irrational. 

Specific phobia often falls into common categories that a person may have a fear of:

  • Nature, such as a fear of heights, waterfalls, or thunderstorms. 
  • Animals or insects, such as a fear of spiders, ladybugs, dogs, or cats.
  • Blood, such as a fear of seeing blood or a fear of needles.
  • Situations, such as going to school or going shopping.
  • Others, this covers everything from a fear of choking to a fear of clowns.

Each specific phobia has its own specific medical term. For example, a fear of heights is called acrophobia. All specific phobias produce the same type of reaction in a person, including

  • Immediate feelings of intense anxiety, panic, and fear when thinking about what you fear or when exposed to it
  • Awareness that your fear is unreasonable but an inability to control your reaction to it
  • Taking all necessary steps to avoid what you fear
  • Physical reactions to your fears, such as difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and sweating

Agoraphobia

This is different from a specific phobia. Agoraphobia is when you have a specific fear and avoidance of specific types of situations or events that would be difficult for you to escape. 

For example, you may fear being in a crowd and not being able to get away. Or you may fear using public transportation and not having control over when it starts or stops or when the doors open or close. 

Such fears can result in panic attacks, leading to avoiding places to evade that feeling. Agoraphobia often builds, resulting in patients avoiding situations they fear, not going to public places without a friend with them, and sometimes not even leaving their homes. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is when you have a fear of negative judgment while engaging in social situations. These may be small social situations or more public social situations. 

Social anxiety disorder can lead to a range of feelings, such as stage fright or a fear of intimacy. It can also lead to avoidance of human contact and public life.

Selective Mutism

This type of anxiety is more common in children who may not be able to speak in certain contexts, despite having good verbal communication skills. It is often seen as an extreme form of social phobia. 

Separation Anxiety Disorder

This is characterized by a high level of anxiety when you are separated from a person or place that makes you feel secure. This can even result in physical expressions of panic, such as a fast-beating heart. 

Treating Anxiety Disorders

You can’t make an anxiety disorder go away on its own; it isn’t about your attitude or discipline. It is a condition that needs to be treated by a medical professional. 

Treatment for anxiety disorders varies and can include medication, psychotherapy, and even specific procedures. 

Medications

Medications can help improve your symptoms and allow you to function more fully in daily life. There are specific types of medications that are commonly prescribed for individuals with anxiety disorder: 

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help change how your brain uses and responds to different chemicals, improving your mood and helping with your stress levels. Keep in mind that antidepressants generally take some time to work and should only be stopped under the guidance of your medical provider. 
  • Anti-anxiety: There is a range of anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, that can help decrease your ability to panic, worry, and experience anxiety. These are generally prescribed for the short term, as they can become less effective with time. 
  • Beta-blockers: This medication is often used for high blood pressure but can also reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety disorder, such as a rapid heartbeat, shaking, and trembling. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, more commonly known as talk therapy, allows you to work with a therapist to help reduce your anxiety symptoms. 

The most effective form of talk therapy for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a short-term therapy focused on helping you learn specific skills that will allow you to improve your anxiety symptoms. 

During CBT, you will be gradually exposed to situations or objects that trigger your anxiety in a controlled setting. This helps you learn how to manage the situation and your resulting anxiety symptoms confidently. 

The overarching goal of psychotherapy is to help you engage in the activities you have been avoiding because of your anxiety. 

Ketamine

It is estimated that about 50% of people with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are “treatment-resistant.” For these individuals, ketamine infusions may be an effective alternative treatment. This is especially true for individuals for whom more conventional approaches, such as talk therapy and medication, didn’t work. 

Ketamine is considered an “off-label” treatment for anxiety. It is FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression; however, it can be prescribed off-label to treat anxiety. 

Ketamine increases the activity of glutamate in your brain, which is a chemical messenger and helps support the neuroplasticity in your brain. By helping support and improve the neuroplasticity in your brain, new pathways with positive thoughts can be developed, helping with your anxiety symptoms. 

TMS Therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is approved to treat depression by the FDA. It is another treatment option that can also work for anxiety.

TMS treats anxiety by lowering the neurons in your amygdala (the integrative center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation) to normal levels. The amygdala may be hyperactive in individuals with anxiety, leading to worry and stress. 

Additional research is needed into the effectiveness of TMS for treating anxiety. However, it is an option to consider, especially if therapy and medication haven’t yielded the results you desire. 

Lifestyle Changes

Various lifestyle changes can help with managing anxiety. These include changes such as:

  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Being active
  • Going outside
  • Avoiding and limiting alcohol and other substances
  • Engaging in mindfulness and meditation
  • Focusing on good nutrition 

Experience Relief from Your Anxiety in Denver, CO Today

If you are suffering from anxiety that is impacting your life, it is time to get help. At Axis Integrated Mental Health, we can help you explore various options for treating your anxiety. 

Contact Axis Integrative Mental Health at (720) 400-7025 or fill out our contact us form to get the help you need today in Denver, Colorado, to treat your anxiety. 

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