Medicine Information

Is Anxiety Ruling Your Life?


Anxiety is the most frequently occurring mental health disorder in the United States, according to the US Surgeon General. There are millions of people who are diagnosed with it every year. A small amount of anxiety helps to get us going, but when it becomes more severe, it can be overwhelming. If you start feeling like it's more than it should be, you may want to visit a doctor for a clinical diagnosis. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has estimated that 19 million Americans aged 18 to 54 suffer from anxiety disorder every year.

Fear is generally the basis for anxiety disorders. All of us have felt its tingle before we do something that makes us nervous, such as making a public speech or going out on a first date. When that feeling becomes more constant and starts to invade our daily lives, then it has become a disorder and it's time to get some help.

One of the best known forms of anxiety disorders is a Panic attack. During a Panic attach, the person is suffering from a panic attack experiences a racing heart with pain, or a heaviness in the chest with shortness of breath. Generalized anxiety disorder is another common form, characterized by a persistent and excessive worrying which occurs longer than six months and is accompanied by symptoms like insomnia, muscle tension, poor concentration, and irritability. Those suffering from general anxiety usually don't experience panic attacks, but it can still be incapacitating. The endless anxiety reduces energy, causes disinterest in life and frequent mood swings. Other forms of anxiety disorders include social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Anxiety disorder can be complicated to treat; the functions of the brain simply aren't fully understood. Medical researchers don't understand why some people's imbedded fear response goes into overdrive. There are at least five different neurotransmitters that seem to be disturbed in various anxiety disorders, and all of them can be treated by anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications.

Thankfully there are a number of options for treating and even curing anxiety disorders. Western medicine relies on medications and psychotherapy. Some people see two practitioners: a psychologist to counsel with, and a psychiatrist for prescription medication. This combination of treatments can be quite effective. Tranquilizers from the class called "benzodiazepines" are often prescribed and often work quite well. Some of these brand names are Xanax, Valium, and Ativan and they help those suffering from panic and anxiety. Most of these aren't to be used for the long-term. Anti-depressants have proven more effective for those with acute anxiety disorders. The best ones seem to be the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) s. Some of these are Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil.

There are a number of alternative medicines being practiced today and some people prefer not to take pharmaceuticals. If you are in this category it may take trial and error as well as time and patience to find relief. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an approach that zeroes in on the thought processes that cause us to worry. Its goal is to help separate realistic thoughts from those that are overblown. Some other things to try are relaxation training, desensitization, breathing, meditating, acupuncture, homeopathy, and biofeedback. Massage therapy, chiropractics, and just walking can also be of help.

Nansia Ressi is the manager of Pharmacy Lane, LLP - a guide to pharmaceutical resources on the internet. To read more of Nansia's work, please visit: http://www.pharmacylane.com


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