Anxiety is a normal emotional reaction in response to stressful situations. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” However, individuals that experience persistent and debilitating anxiety may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are highly common. According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to thirty percent of adults in the United States struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research has shown that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.
Signs and Symptoms
There are a variety of signs and symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. These can include, but are not limited to, the following examples, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Overwhelming worry and fear
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbances
- Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
- Worry/ Fear
The symptoms of anxiety can present in any combination with varying levels of severity.
There are many treatment options for an individual diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in Southern California. An individual that suffers from debilitating anxiety will benefit most from a tailored treatment plan. Through treatment an individual will come to understand the nature of his or her own anxiety itself. This will result in the individual being less fearful of the anxiety itself, and help him or her to make choices independent of the presence of anxiety. Treatment plans from anxiety disorders often include psychotherapy and/ or medication. In Los Angeles, California, the main types of psychotherapy that are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and talk therapy. There are several different types of medications that can also be used to treat an anxiety disorder, including:
- Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
- Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone
- Benzodiazepines: fast acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
- Anti-convulsants/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine)
Every person is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options available. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.
The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.