Anxiety is a normal emotion that all human’s experience. We often feel anxiety when facing a challenging work situation, or put into a high-stress situation. Anxiety is a natural response.
But, for those who face constant fear, anxiety, and feelings of overwhelm in every day of their life, this response is not natural. These constant feelings are often an indicator of an underlying anxiety disorder, which can disable your ability to live a normal, and satisfying life.
If you do have an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone, however. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting at least 18.1% of U.S. adults. That’s an estimated 40 million people who suffer from anxiety, just in the United States.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, it’s very important to contact a qualified mental health expert for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Here are a few general signs and symptoms of anxiety:
- Excessive feelings of panic, fear, or worry
- Constant feelings of being overwhelmed with life
- Problems falling asleep, or staying asleep
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heart or heart palpitations
- Muscle tension
- Cold, sweaty hands or feet
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Dry mouth
Diagnosing an Anxiety Disorder
There is no simple test that can be performed to diagnose anxiety. Instead, psychologists use an interview process to identify symptoms and better understand the severity, context, and duration of those symptoms.
Based on their evaluation, the psychologist will be able to identify and diagnose what type of anxiety you might be experiencing. They’ll also make recommendations for treatment that are based on the severity of your symptoms.
Types of Anxiety
There are several different types of anxiety. An anxiety diagnosis could include any of the following sub-types:
Generalized anxiety is characterized by constant, and unrealistic worry even when there is no visible trigger for that worry. People with generalized anxiety often worry unrelentingly over every day situations, where there are few if any externally perceived risks.
Unlike generalized anxiety, phobias are characterized by intense fear and worry in response to a specific situation, or item. Some common phobias include flying, public speaking, or spiders. In these cases the persons anxiety is typically limited just to one specific phobia, but can cause people to avoid normal situations, in order to avoid their fear.
Social anxiety is a type of phobia which is characterized by a fear of social situations. Those with social anxiety often worry about how others are perceiving them and experience feelings of extreme self-consciousness. These feelings often cause them to withdraw or avoid social situations.
Panic disorders are characterized by a sudden onset of fear or terror. These panic attacks are often unprovoked and occur without warning, which can trigger further anxiety as well. These attacks are often accompanied by physical symptoms which include chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating and difficulty breathing.
Fortunately, there are a variety of effective treatments for anxiety and a majority of people can improve their symptoms with professional help.
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for anxiety. Each person can respond differently to the same treatment. While one person may respond to treatment after a few months, it might take another person over a year.
The success of anxiety treatment is often related to the severity of the condition. Treatment can also be complicated by the presence of other co-existing conditions such as depression, or autism. That’s why it’s important to work with a mental health provider who’s experienced in treating anxiety, along with co-existing conditions.
At The Center for Psychological Health, we work with patients who have co-existing conditions, and we tailor our treatment approach to the needs of each individual. Although the specific treatment approach may vary, we often use a combination of approaches, which may include both psychotherapy and medication.
Treating Anxiety with Medication
Medication is not always necessary for treating anxiety. But, depending on the severity of your symptoms, medication might be recommended as part of your treatment in conjunction with psychotherapy.
The decision to treat with medication is one that you’ll need to discuss and make with your mental healthcare provider. In Washington, anxiety medications can be prescribed by physicians, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners. At our clinic, we have an in-house psychiatric nurse practitioner who works with our patients to find the right medication, when appropriate.
When working with any of your healthcare providers, it’s important to let them know any medications you are taking, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications. This will help your healthcare providers to identify the appropriate anxiety medications, and avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.
It’s also important to follow the explicit instructions provided by your prescribing healthcare provider, and to avoid any abrupt discontinuations of your medication. If you experience side effects, immediately contact your provider.
Choosing an Anxiety Therapist or Psychologist
Anxiety disorders can be treated by a variety of mental health professionals. At The Center for Psychological Health, our team consists of licensed psychologists, mental health counselors, and one psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Call us today to schedule an appointment and we’ll help you find a provider that’s right for you and accepts your insurance.