Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, but some of the most misunderstood. Even though over millions of adults suffer from anxiety disorders, there’s a lot that people don’t know about it.
There's a lot of misinformation out there. It's easy to think of anxiety as simply "being nervous," instead of an actual mental health disorder. Anxiety disorders can be complex, and it can be hard to understand them if you don't have one.
If you've ever wondered what an anxiety disorder is or wanted to know more, here are some of the basics.
So, what is an anxiety disorder?
The National Institute of Mental Health classifies anxiety disorders as mental health disorders in which "the anxiety does not go away, and can get worse over time." It is normal to experience anxiety at different points in your life, but an anxiety disorder moves beyond that.
What causes anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics and brain chemistry, as well as triggering events in your life.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
There are many symptoms of anxiety disorders, but not everyone will experience the same symptoms. nervous or irritable, experiencing increased breathing and heart rate, sweating, and having trouble sleeping are all symptoms, but they aren’t the only ones. Alone, some of these symptoms might not seem indicative of an anxiety disorder, but even one could be a sign of a disorder. If you have one or more symptoms and think it may be an anxiety disorder, contact a professional.
There are different types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorders
- Panic disorders
- Phobias (including social phobias and agoraphobia)
Can anxiety be cured?
There is no "cure" for anxiety. However, there are ways to treat it. Successful treatment could mean reaching a point where you no longer exhibit symptoms of anxiety and your brain begins functioning normally; for others, successful treatment could just be managing the symptoms of anxiety so you can live your life.
How do you treat anxiety?
Anxiety can be treated in a number of ways. Medication and therapy are two of the most common treatments, and it is typically recommended you use both together to treat anxiety disorders.
The problems with medication and therapy often have to do with cost and effectiveness. Medication is expensive without insurance, and, even with insurance, so is therapy. Additionally, some side effects of anti-anxiety medications can leave people feeling worse than before, or even suicidal.
If therapy is too expensive for you, or you don't want to fill your body with man-made chemicals, there are natural options to help manage anxiety disorders. Essential oils—like lavender and frankincense—can be used in a variety of ways, as can CBD oil, a derivative of cannabis that relaxes you without getting you high. Meditation and mindfulness are other effective, natural ways to treat anxiety disorders.
There are also little changes you can make to your day-to-day life that can have a big impact on your anxiety. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and journaling are things you can do to help ease some of the symptoms of anxiety. Do some research, find what works for you, and don't feel disappointed if something doesn't make you feel better. Everyone is different.
How can I help a loved one who suffers from an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety can be treated in different ways, depending on the individual; if someone you know struggles with an anxiety disorder, the best thing to do is ask them how you can help.
I think I have an anxiety disorder. Where can I go for help?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. If you think the symptoms you're experiencing are indicative of an anxiety disorder, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. They will be able to diagnose an anxiety disorder, and talk to you about treatment options.