Most people experience feelings of Anxiety before an important
event such as a big exam, business presentation, or first date. Anxiety
disorders, however, are illnesses that fill people's lives with overwhelming
Anxiety and fear that are chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively
worse. Tormented by panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks of traumatic
events, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, some people
with Anxiety disorders even become housebound. Fortunately, through research
supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are
effective treatments that can help.
Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental
illness in America. More than 19 million American adults are affected by these
debilitating illnesses each year. Children and adolescents can also develop
What Are the Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?
episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical
symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath,
dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.
unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—Persistent
symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such
as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural or human-caused
disasters, or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions,
depression, and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily
startled are common. Family members of victims can also develop this
Phobias—Two major types of
phobias are social phobia and specific phobia. People with social phobia
have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or
humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many
potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities. People with specific
phobia experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that
poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or
situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder—Constant,
exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life
events and activities, lasting at least six months. Almost always
anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it;
accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle
tension, headache, or nausea.
What Are Effective Treatments for Anxiety Disorders?
Treatments have been largely developed through research
conducted by NIMH and other research institutions. They help many people with
Anxiety disorders and often combine medication and specific types of
A number of medications that were originally approved for
treating depression have been found to be effective for Anxiety disorders as
well. Some of the newest of these antidepressants are called selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other antianxiety medications include
groups of drugs called benzodiazepines and beta-blockers. If one medication is
not effective, others can be tried. New medications are currently under
development to treat Anxiety symptoms.
Two clinically-proven effective forms of psychotherapy used
to treat Anxiety disorders are behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral
therapy. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses
several techniques to stop unwanted behaviors. In addition to the behavioral
therapy techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients to
understand and change their thinking patterns so they can react differently to
the situations that cause them Anxiety.
Do Anxiety Disorders Co-Exist with Other Physical or Mental
It is common for an Anxiety disorder to accompany
depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or another Anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can also co-exist with illnesses such as cancer or heart
disease. In such instances, the accompanying disorders will also need to be
treated. Before beginning any treatment, however, it is important to have a
thorough medical examination to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.
Include calcium (1,000 mg a day) and magnesium (500 mg a
day) supplements to your diet. Try taking half the amount in the morning and
half at night to increase better absorption of calcium. Also, take a B complex
(50 to 100 mg a day, best in the morning) to decrease stress effects.
Avoid stimulating foods and drinks: caffeine, sugar,
processed foods and alcohol. Avoid foods that commonly cause food
sensitivities (peanuts, soy, dairy, wheat, corn, shell fish). Increase
consumption of fresh vegetables and whole grains.
There are some very safe and effective Chinese herbal
formulas that help decrease Anxiety and help improve sleep such as
Traditions of Tao - Anxiety/Sleepless Formula,
a modified An Mian Wan formula
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