Anxiety Attacks: When is it No Longer Normal?

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Anxiety Attacks: When is it No Longer Normal?

Constant and exaggerated feeling of anxiousness and tension is the main symptom of anxiety disorder/ Photo By Dean Drobot via 123RF


It is natural to feel anxious when you are faced with a stressful situation. Stress and anxiety are part of the daily grind. Just feeling anxious does not mean that you have to get professional help or you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a preventive warning of an upcoming stressful situation. Without this, we cannot expect for these situations and prepare for them.

However, if the fears and anxiousness that you feel are interrupting you from functioning normally, you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder already. There are different types of anxiety disorders but there are effective treatments and self-help strategies.


What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is a normal reaction of the body when there is something dangerous. This is how a person feels when a threat is nearby, too much pressure, or if someone is undergoing a stressful situation. Moderate anxiety can keep you alert and motivated. A constant and exaggerated feeling of anxiousness and tension is the main symptom of anxiety disorder.  If you worry about little things that can be a sign that you have crossed to another level of anxiety.

Anxiety disorder can upset one's sleep patterns and cloud your thinking. It can also make one feel irritable.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders

Aside from too much worry and fear, other symptoms of anxiety disorder include feelings of dread, irritable, feeling tense, expecting bad things, difficulty concentrating, headache, diarrhea, trembling, muscle pain, sweaty hands, inability to relax and palpitations.


Who gets it?

People from any age bracket can develop anxiety disorders. Even children are not an exception. It starts gradually until it becomes full blown. Anxiety can be caused by several factors from bad experiences to shame. There is no clear explanation of why some people get a panic attack or experiences phobia while others do not share the same experience.

There is no clear explanation of how a complex combination of several factors can cause anxiety. Other factors that may affect anxiety include childhood experiences, genetics, neurobiology, psychological factors, personality, and the social environment.

Aside from too much worry and fear, other symptoms of anxiety disorder include feelings of dread, irritableand feeling tense/ Photo By Dean Drobot via 123RF


Living with Anxiety

Learning that you have an anxiety disorder may give you relief because you can finally name your struggle. At the same time, it can be a burden because you now have to worry about it. No need though because anxiety disorders are among very treatable.

Research made over the past decade has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders according to Corboy. This is usually the first line of treatment. SSRIs, SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants are also used in treating anxiety.

Since anxiety can sometimes be associated with depression, doctors prescribe SSRIs and SNRIs because of their effectivity.


Using psychotherapy

Therapies are helpful for people who are suffering from anxiety disorders. Even in a short amount of time, they respond well to therapy. Treatment usually consists of medication and therapy so that panic attacks can be controlled.

In cognitive behavior therapy, you can help identify the way the person thinks and challenge the negative thinking patterns that contribute to their anxiety. Exposure therapy, on the other hand, is facing your fears and anxieties in a controlled environment. Gradual exposure to stressors can help a person find control. When you face your fears without getting harmed, the anxiety levels will also lower.

What makes an effective treatment?

There are common misconceptions to avoid. It is important to understand that anxiety disorders are a serious matter. Even though anxiety is a universal emotion, it does not mean that you should take it lightly. Anxiety can be paralyzing. It can affect your relationships with others.

Good treatment exists for anxiety. The thought of overcoming anxiety on your own terms might not be a good idea after all. There are some people who believe that you just need to sort it out yourself.

A common misconception about anxiety disorder is that it is seen as a character flaw. According to Tom Corboy, MFT, director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, anxiety is a genetic and neurological issue.

Being totally dependent on medication is another misconception. While medication is effective in treating disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy is just as effective.


Self-help strategies

There are some self-help strategies that can be applied during troubling times. These can help lower your anxiety levels.

-Socialize with others. Being alone can sometimes make you think about unnecessary things. Meeting up with friends or a support group will give you a lending ear if you want to share your worries.

-Practicing relaxation techniques is another way to manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can make you feel better and less uptight.

-Exercise is a good stress reliever. Spending at least 30 minutes can boost your happy hormones and reduce anxiety. It is equally important to get enough sleep. Reducing caffeine intake is a consideration when you have an anxiety disorder. Alcohol and caffeine can make anxiety worse.



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