Experiencing anxiety is a normal part of life, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). At its core, it is the way the body naturally responds to stress. It isn’t necessarily negative. In fact, acute stress may actually be beneficial. However, too much can be detrimental to our health and can lead to an anxiety disorder.Obsessive-compulsive disorder
, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
are among the most commonly diagnosed anxiety conditions in the United States. According to the NIMH, roughly 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Certain life situations are thought to increase the likelihood of experiencing anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can include: * Trauma (experienced as a child or an adult) * Medical illness * Accumulated stress * Having a family history of anxiety disorders * Drug and alcohol use
Feeling anxious can be brought on by any number of stressful situations. But if it's persistent, it may be a cause for concern. People experience anxiety in unique ways, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Feeling chronically stressed
- Difficulty breathing, which includes hyperventilating
- Racing heartbeat
- Chronic nervousness
- Lingering feelings of panic/uneasiness
Treatment usually takes the form of therapy, medication or alternative treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
- Therapy – cognitive-behavioral therapy is perhaps the most common type of treatment. According to the ADAA, this type of therapy aims to pinpoint an individual’s source of nervousness, while modifying the patient’s thinking and behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches coping strategies to help patients manage their anxiety. Other psychotherapy approaches include exposure therapy and variations of group therapy.
- Medications – antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are commonly used to treat the condition. Popular medications include Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac.
- Alternative treatment – alternative medicine can help quell feelings of anxiety. According to the ADAA, relaxation techniques, yoga and acupuncture are commonly used anti-anxiety approaches.