A Guide To Manage Your Anxiety
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States. Know your options for treating anxiety.
Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by feelings of nervousness and anxiety. These feelings can be about many things or certain situations or activities. These fears are often inappropriately placed and intense.
Typical “symptoms” include excessive worry, inability to control your worries, feeling restless, difficulty concentrating, irritability, tiredness, nausea, and muscle pain. The feelings are usually present for most days, last for 6 months or longer, and impair day-to-day functioning, including work, school, self-care, and interpersonal relationships.
Read about Different types of anxiety disorder
It is very important to differentiate between the various types of the condition.
The most common anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
As the name describes, this anxiety disorder is the most “generalized”. The feelings of nervousness and excessive worry are about multiple different situations or activities and occur on most days for at least 6 months.
Social anxiety disorder (SA) is more specific.
The anxiety is centered around social situations and interpersonal relationships. The most common anxieties experienced are that of being judged or embarrassed in front of others. This can occur in all social situations or can be specific to certain circumstances such as social gatherings.
Panic disorder (PD)
Panic disorder is another specialized form of anxiety, characterized by sudden and repeated attacks of uncontrollable, intense anxiety. This bout of severe anxiety is called a “panic attack”, and can present as a racing heart, sweating and chills, difficulty breathing and speaking, uncontrollable crying, stomach pain, and a feeling of being out of control. Panic attacks are scary and upsetting, so people with panic disorder often live in fear of experiencing one, which perpetuates their mental health condition.
If you think you may fit the criteria of an anxiety disorder, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider as there are many treatment options available for these conditions.
The treatment for anxiety depends on the anxiety disorder you have been diagnosed with. However, in general there are three main ways to manage anxiety: self-management, talk therapy, and/or medication.
This kind of management is recommended for most people with anxiety regardless of other additional treatments. The treatment includes learning grounding techniques, modifying your lifestyle, and meditation.
Talk therapy is is guided by a professional mental health care provider. The types of therapy will differ based on your own personal needs and preferences, but could include cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and/or psychodynamic therapy.
In general, antidepressants are the first-line therapy for anxiety. However, certain benzodiazepines and antipsychotics can also be prescribed in certain situations.
Read about the First few weeks on antidepressants.
Medications for Anxiety
There are five major classes and antidepressants, all of which have their differences; advantages and disadvantages. Learn more about the medications in each of these drug classes below:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Read our blog What to expect during the first few weeks on antidepressants
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is characterized by obsessions (reoccurring, repeated, unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (urgent drives to repeatedly complete certain tasks). In general, the compulsions are completed in order to (temporarily) relieve the obsessive thoughts. However, the thoughts return, and the cycle continues.
These obsessions and compulsions cause significant distress and interfere with day-to-day functioning. There are, however, medications and therapies that can help relieve these thoughts and actions. It is therefore essential to speak with a healthcare professional if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of OCD.
Medications approved to treat OCD:
Learn more about Treating OCD with medication