Anxiety worldwide health and medical information

Anxiety Disorders

If you suffer from panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, unrelenting worries, or an incapacitating phobia, you may have an anxiety disorder. But you don’t have to live with anxiety and fear. Treatment can help, and for many anxiety problems, therapy is a good place to start. Certain types of therapy are particularly beneficial. These therapies can teach you how to control your anxiety levels, stop worrisome thoughts, and conquer your fears.

Treating anxiety disorders with therapy

When it comes to treating anxiety disorders, research shows that therapy is usually the most effective option. That’s because anxiety therapy - unlike anxiety medication - treats more than just the symptoms of the problem. Therapy can help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears; learn how to relax; look at situations in new, less frightening ways; and develop better coping and problem-solving skills. Therapy gives you the tools to overcome anxiety and teaches you how to use them.

Anxiety disorders differ considerably, so therapy should be tailored to your specific symptoms and diagnosis.

The length of therapy will also depend on the type and severity of your anxiety disorder. However, many anxiety therapies are relatively short-term. According to the American Psychological Association, many people improve significantly within 8 to 10 therapy sessions.

Health Care Professionals

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, as described above, who diagnose psychiatric conditions, manage medical issues, prescribe medications, and provide psychotherapy. Because they are also medical doctors, psychiatrists may order some tests to monitor progress. Psychiatrists also collaborate with other medical doctors, such as pediatricians, neurologists, endocrinologists, and family medicine doctors, in order to provide the best medical care.

Psychologists often specialize in administering specialized diagnostic testing as well as therapy in a variety of settings. They do not prescribe medications, but their services are very important.

Therapists and counselors typically focus on providing psychotherapy, or counseling, to individuals, families, couples, or groups, in a variety of settings and specialties.

Social workers often work in multi-disciplinary teams alongside health and education professionals. Professional social workers are the largest group of mental health services providers.

The most important thing to understand is that Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Therapists all provide an integral service to those who seek their help. They are all considered mental health professionals. Oftentimes, an individual is best served by working with a combination of all, since medication and therapy may each be necessary. In most cases, an individual can start by seeking help from one type of professional and then be referred to another professional if indicated.

Medication for Anxiety

Medication is useful for alleviating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and is often prescribed in conjunction with other therapies. Some types of anxiety drugs can be habit-forming and are usually prescribed on a short-term or as-needed basis. Different anxiety disorders have different medication regimens. Some are preventive and some are designed to cure the problem.

If you have acute anxiety (panic attack), you will likely need to take an anti-anxiety medicine as well. The most prominent of anti-anxiety drugs for the purpose of immediate relief are those known as benzodiazepines; among them is lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines sometimes cause drowsiness, irritability, dizziness, memory and attention problems, and physical dependence. Nonetheless, in recent decades they have largely replaced barbiturates because they tend to be safer if taken in large doses.

Another anti-anxiety drug is busprirone (Buspar). It has fewer side effects than the benzodiazepines and is not associated with dependence. Buspar, however, can have its own side effects and may not always be as effective when a person has taken benzodiazepines in the past.

Medication treatment of anxiety is generally safe and effective and is often used in conjunction with therapy. Medication may be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on severity of symptoms, other medical conditions, and other individual circumstances. However, it often takes time and patience to find the drug that works best for you.

Major classes of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs relieve symptoms by blocking the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available, which improves mood. SSRIs (citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline) generally produced fewer side effects when compared with tricyclic antidepressants. However, common side effects include insomnia or sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. They are considered an effective treatment for all anxiety disorders, although the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, typically requires higher doses.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

The serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI, class (venlafaxine and duloxetine) is notable for a dual mechanism of action: increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine by inhibiting their reabsorption into cells in the brain. As with other medications, side effects may occur, including stomach upset, insomnia, headache, sexual dysfunction, weight gain and minor increase in blood pressure. These medications are considered as effective as SSRIs, so they are also considered a first-line treatment for the treatment of anxiety disorders, but not for obsessive compulsive disorder ,where SSRI’s are the preferred first line treatment.

Benzodiazepines

This class of drugs is frequently used for short-term management of anxiety and as an add on treatment, in treatment resistant anxiety disorders.They are not recommended as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam) are highly effective in promoting relaxation and reducing muscular tension and other physical symptoms of anxiety. Long-term use may require increased doses to achieve the same effect, which may lead to problems related to tolerance and dependence.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Concerns about long-term use of the benzodiazepines led many doctors to favor tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline). Although effective in the treatment of some anxiety disorders(but not Social Anxiety Disorder), they can cause significant side effects, including orthostatic hypotension (drop in blood pressure on standing), constipation, urinary retention, dry mouth, and blurry vision.

Medications will work only if they are taken according the explicit instructions of your physician, but they may not resolve all symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Research

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