Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders, which refer tos to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), and specific phobias.
The causes of anxiety disorders, as with many mental health disorders, is still unknown. Possible causes may involve naturally occurring brain chemicals (neutrotransmitters), such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephine. It is also likely that these conditions have genetic links, as well as to your environment and stress. Regardless, anxiety disorders are treatable and can be helped with professional care. If anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is seeking a mental health professional. There are several standard approached that have proved effective in treating anxiety: therapy, medication, and complementary and alternative treatment.
There are a number of therapy approaches for anxiety treatment. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on realizing and comprehending thinking patterns and changing them in a healthy manner. CBT is characterized in that the patient is actively involved in their own recovery, having a sense of control and learning useful skills. Exposure Therapy, which is a form of CBT, is a process for reducing fear and anxiety responses. Therapy consists of gradually exposing a person to feared situations or objects, desensitizing these over time. Exposure Therapy has been found to be particularly effective for OCD and phobias. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy also known as ACT utlilizes methods of mindfullness and acceptance, as well as behavioral changes and commitment as a way to deal with negative emotions and feeling pattersn. ACT utilizes skills to accept all experiences and places them in a separate contex. This can cause a person to see clairty about their value system, and allows them to committ to changing their behavior. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy uses CBT techniques and meditation as a way for a person to deal with acceptance and change. Dialectical Behavioral therapy uses both group and one on one therapy to learn things such as dealing with emotions, dealing with anxiety, and learning mindfullness. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a short-term supportive psychotherapy that addresses interpersonal issues in depression. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) reduces the intense feelings that can come from uneasy and negative feelings. EMDR can effect how the mind comprehends information. EMDR has been proven to be an effective method for treating PTSD, and also successful for dealing with phobias and anxiety.
There are several different medication types to treat anxiety as well. Antidepressants can be used because they influence the activity of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) thought to play a role in anxiety disorders. Buspirone (BuSpar) is an anti-anxiety medication that typically takes up to several weeks to become fully effective. Benzodiazepines are used for relieving acute anxiety on a short-term basis.