RISK FACTORS OF ANXIETY DISORDER
Specific factors include:
*.Trauma Children who endured abuse or trauma or witnessed traumatic events are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Adults who experience a traumatic event also can develop anxiety disorders.
*.Stress due to an illness Having a health condition or serious illness can cause significant worry about issues such as your treatment and your future.
*.Stress buildup A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances.
*.Personality People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are.
*.Other mental health disorders People with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.
*.Having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder Anxiety disorders can run in families.
*.Drugs or alcohol Drug or alcohol use or abuse or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.
TREATMENTS AND THERAPIES
Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.
Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with anxiety disorders. To be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties and tailored to his or her needs. A typical “side effect” of psychotherapy is temporary discomfort involved with thinking about confronting feared situations.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.
Exposure therapy focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder in order to help people engage in activities they have been avoiding. Exposure therapy is used along with relaxation exercises and/or imagery. One study, called a meta-analysis because it pulls together all of the previous studies and calculates the statistical magnitude of the combined effects, found that cognitive therapy was superior to exposure therapy for treating social anxiety disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are types of behavioral therapy, meaning they focus on behavior rather thanon underlying psychological conflicts or issues from the past.
MEDICATION FOR ANXIETY DISORDERS
If you have anxiety that’s severe enough to interfere with your ability to function, medication may help relieve your symptoms. However, anxiety medications can be habit forming and cause unwanted side effects, so be sure to research your options. Many people use anti-anxiety medication when therapy, exercise, or self-help strategies would work just as well or better—minus the side effects and safety concerns. It’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of anxiety medication so you can make an informed decision.
The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers. Be aware that some medications are effective only if they are taken regularly and that symptoms may recur if the medication is stopped.
Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful fortreating anxiety disorders. They take several weeks to start working and maycause side effects such as headache, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. The side effects are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time.
2. ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATIONS
Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks,or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are first-line treatments for generalized anxiety disorder. With panic disorder or social phobia (social anxiety disorder), benzodiazepines are usually second-line treatments, behind antidepressants.
Beta-blockers, such as propranolol and atenolol, are also helpful in the treatment of the physical symptoms of anxiety, especially social anxiety. Physicians prescribe them to control rapid heartbeat, shaking, trembling, and blushing in anxious situations.
Choosing the right medication, medication dose, and treatment plan should be based on a person’s needs and medical situation, and done under an expert’s care. Only an expert clinician can help you decide whether the medication’s ability to help is worth the risk of a side effect.
FINDING THE RIGHT MENTAL HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
You’ll know your mental healthcare provider is right for you if you feel comfortable talking with them about your anxiety. You’ll need to see a psychiatrist if it’s determined that you need medication to help control your anxiety. It’s sufficient for you to see a psychologist if your mental healthcare provider determines your anxiety is treatable with talk therapy alone.
Remember that it takes time to start seeing results of treatment for anxiety. Be patient and follow the directions of your mental health care provider for the best outcome. But also know that if you feel uneasy with your mental healthcare provider or don’t think you’re making enough progress, you can always seek treatment elsewhere. Ask your primary care doctor to give you referrals to other mental healthcare providers in your area.
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