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Anxiety Disorders: Warning Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. A person may feel anxious about performing in a competition, presenting a project at work, or before taking a flight, but–for some people–anxiety is something they experience on a daily or regular basis even in seemingly low-stress situations.

Anxiety disorders are common: according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in three adults in the U.S. will have an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with anxiety, you should speak with a mental health professional who can provide a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. With help, living with anxiety will get better! My Psychiatrist has multiple locations in Oakland Park, South Miami and Hollywood, FL for anxiety disorder treatment.

Types Of Anxiety

There are many types of anxiety disorders, including phobia-related disorders–when a person experiences anxiety when encountering a particular trigger like flying, spiders, or heights. A mental health professional can provide a diagnosis, after an assessment, to better treat the anxiety disorder and offer relief from anxiety symptoms.

How is Anxiety Diagnosed?

As most other mental health conditions, anxiety can be diagnosed by both a doctor and a mental health specialist. It is common for someone who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety to reach out to either their doctor or mental health specialist to inquire about their symptoms — even if they do not know why they are feeling the way they are. Some people present with extreme concerns over their health, while others present with significant feelings of being overwhelmed and worried. Either way, the process of diagnosing anxiety remains the same.

A medical or mental health specialist will provide a person with a psychological evaluation to start. This will include asking questions about one’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Gathering as much mental health history about the individual is also a step that a professional will take during the diagnostic process. Professionals will also refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) to review criteria to determine if anxiety is occurring or not. To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, individuals must experience:

  • Excessive worry for more days than not for a full six months
  • Difficulty controlling their worries
  • Worries that are associated with three or more of the following symptoms:
    • Restlessness, feeling on edge
    • Being easily fatigued
    • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep disturbances

Based on the results that a doctor or mental health specialists obtains from the patient, they can better determine the severity of the anxiety disorder. This allows for them to begin developing a proper treatment plan for the patient. 

How is Anxiety Treated?

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States, however it is treatable. Depending on the needs of the patient, anxiety is typically treated with medications and therapy. 

Medications

There are a number of types of anxiety disorders, meaning that there are a variety of different medications that can be used to treat them. The most common types of anxiety medications include the following:

  • SSRI’s – Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft
  • SNRI’s – Pristiq, Effexor, Cymbalta
  • Benzodiazepines – Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin
  • Anticonvulsants – pregabalin, gabapentin

The type and dose of these medications will be based on factors such as what kind of anxiety disorder the patient has, what his/her physical health status is, and the severity of their disorder, among other things. 

Therapies

The many symptoms of anxiety that individuals feel on a daily basis can be minimized through the application of evidence-based therapies. Through therapy, individuals can learn how to change negative behavioral and thought patterns, develop a strong sense of self-awareness, and establish skills that allow them to cope with their anxiety in a healthy way. Some of the therapies that are most often used to treat anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

These therapies have proven to be highly effective in reducing the presence of anxiety symptoms, allowing individuals to live happier, healthier lives.

Living and Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety, as mentioned before, is a mental health condition that can be treated. When the appropropriate treatment is obtained, it can be much easier to live and cope with anxiety. But, arguably the most important part of trying to live a healthy life while living with anxiety is prioritizing one’s own self-care and wellbeing.

Self-care is often misconstrued as going for a spa day, taking oneself shopping, etc. But, self-care is a daily action that needs to be taken in order to keep anxiety symptoms at bay. So, in order to live with and cope with anxiety, self-care is an absolute must. Examples of good self-care practices for someone with anxiety can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Making time for leisurely activities 

The goal of self-care is to incorporate daily self-care actions into one’s life. Maintaining focus on one’s wellbeing allows individuals to prioritize their needs while still being able to carry out their regular daily functions. Those with anxiety often neglect their own needs, adding to the severity of their symptoms. But, by making this move to put themselves first, they can live with and cope with anxiety in an effective manner.

How to Know When to See a Psychiatrist for Anxiety

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, reaching out to a psychiatrist is the first thing you should do. Anxiety is a complicated mental health condition, and attempting to manage it on your own can prove disastrous. If you are unsure if you or a loved one is experiencing an anxiety disorder, consider the following symptoms that may denote if you have anxiety or not:

  • Excessive, uncontrollable worries 
  • Intrusive thoughts and concerns
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Having panic attacks
  • Feeling unable to control fears 
  • Problems focusing
  • Problems carrying out regular, daily activities 

Anxiety disorders can quickly grow to be out of hand. That is why seeking professional treatment is absolutely necessary if you or a loved one feel that anxiety is impacting your daily lives. If you are thinking, “where is there a psychiatrist near me for anxiety?”, look no further. Contact My Psychiatrist right now.

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