Yong-Suk Zarski, PNP, DNP
What are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a normal emotion and is essential to our existence. Everybody becomes anxious when they face difficulties or problems. Commonly, anxiety is provoked when we feel something threatens our existence, security and self-identity. Examples include separation from our loved ones, fear of disapproval or humiliation, emotional or physical pain, loss of our function or job and fear of death. We begin to experience anxiety when we are aware of our existence and consequently the vulnerability of self-preservation starting in early childhood. Therefore, most anxiety disorders develop in childhood and can persist if not treated. There are also various levels of intensity from mild to severe to full panic attacks. These levels of anxiety are expressed differently through physical, behavioral, and emotional reactions. A mild level of anxiety helps us to focus, motivate, and promote our growth. However, when the level of anxiety becomes excessive, severe and chronic, it becomes debilitating, impacts our relationships and impairs our daily lives at work and school.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are a cluster of psychiatric disorders with symptoms that can present differently from person to person. Despite various forms of anxiety disorder, there are shared symptoms including excessive fear, excessive anxiety, and related avoidance behaviors. Generally, anxiety provokes physical, behavioral and emotional reactions.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Palpitations, headaches, or chest discomfort
- Dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or sweating
- Shakiness, difficult breathe, feeling of numbness or muscle tension
- Fatigue or sleep trouble.
These symptoms are more characteristic in a person with panic episodes. Emotional reactions include:
- Difficulty controlling the anxiety
- Irritability and restlessness
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling nervous and anxious
- Feeling that awful things might happen in the future
These symptoms are easily recognized in a person with generalized anxiety disorder. The behavioral symptoms of anxiety which you can easily recognize in a person with a social anxiety disorder include:
- Fear of objects, people or places
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
- Avoiding the public so a person does have to face the fear of being negatively judged, rejected or criticized by others.
Treatment Options: Medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Anxiety disorders are usually treated with medication, therapy or both. Presently, the treatment of anxiety can be quite effective if the therapy is combined with medication.
When to seek professional help?
When your anxiety symptoms become excessive and your reactions cause extreme distress or disrupts your daily life, it is critical to seek professional help. The earlier you receive the treatment, the quicker you can begin managing your anxiety.
If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms please consult with a physician. You can also call Cornerstone Family Healthcare at (845) 563-8000 to make an appointment with a behavioral health specialist.