Anxiety disorders may result from a combination of factors, such as: GeneticsFactors in the environment
Chemical imbalances in the brain may also play a role.
Anxiety disorders are nearly twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of anxiety disorders include: Family member with anxiety disordersStressful life eventsPoor coping strategiesHistory of physical or psychological traumaChronic medical illnessSubstance abuseHistory of self-harm as a teenager, with or without suicidal intent
Psychological symptoms may include: Worry or dreadIntrusive or ruminative thoughtsSense of imminent danger or catastropheFear or panicRestlessnessIrritabilityImpatienceUncertaintyTrouble concentrating
Physical symptoms may include: HeadacheFatigueChest painRapid heartbeatSweating (especially the palms)Dry mouthFlushing or blushingMuscle tensionShortness of breathFeeling lightheaded or faintingDifficulty sleepingShakingChoking sensationAbdominal discomfortNausea or vomitingDiarrheaFeeling of "butterflies" in the stomachSexual difficultiesTingling sensationsNail biting or other habitual behavior
Symptoms of Anxiety
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You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and psychiatric exam will be done. Conditions with similar symptoms will be evaluated. Blood and urine tests may be done.
Your doctor will ask questions about your: Use of alcohol and drugsMental health historyFamily's mental health history
You may be referred to a psychotherapist for further evaluation.
Effective treatment usually involves a combination of interventions, including:
Get sufficient rest and sleep.
If you smoke,
talk to your doctor about ways to
Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages.Excess alcohol use can make anxiety worse—drink alcohol in moderation.Avoid using drugs.Reduce exposure to stressful environments.Exercise regularly.
Practice deep breathing and
Learn how to do progressive muscle relaxation.Work with a massage therapist.Engage in pleasurable activities.
strong support system of family and friends.Seek therapy to improve your coping skills.
This therapy addresses thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that play a role in anxiety. It helps you work through traumas and conflicts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
can help you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors. Over time, you can learn to retrain your thinking. This will help you respond better to stress and anxiety.
CBT has been very effective in children and teens.
For severe anxiety or anxiety disorder, medications may include: Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressantsBuspironeBenzodiazepines
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications. Some types may cause dependence.
To help reduce your chance of anxiety: Be aware of situations, occupations, and people that cause you stress.If unavoidable, confront and overcome situations that provoke anxiety.Find a relaxation technique that works for you. Use it regularly.Develop and maintain a strong social support system.Express your emotions when they happen.Challenge irrational beliefs and thoughts that are not helpful to you.Correct misperceptions. Ask others for their points of view.Work with a
Avoid using nicotine or other drugs. If you drink alcohol, drink only in
moderation. Moderation is (one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men.
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrian Preda, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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