Twenty-five years ago when I started private practice, almost everyone who came through my doors had a diagnosis of depression. Now almost everyone who walks through the door is experiencing some type of anxiety disorder, including children and teenagers. From my perspective, it looks and feels like an epidemic. Most of the time people who experience anxiety for the first time do not recognize the symptoms, and they think they are having a heart attack, or some other serious health problem. Many times they end up in the emergency room only to find out they have experienced their first panic attack.
Anxiety is miserable and scary and few people have any knowledge or understanding about this disorder. Until they receive proper treatment and diagnosis, folks walk around thinking they are going crazy or worse. Some of the common symptoms of generalized anxiety include the following: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep. Symptoms of a panic attack are: racing or pounding heart, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, feeling dizzy, unsteady or faint, feeling unreal or detached, numbness or tingling sensation, chills or hot flashes, fear of dying, and fear of going crazy or losing control. If you have had any of these symptoms, you have experienced the misery of anxiety.
The good news, if there is any good news, is that you do not have a serious medical problem, and anxiety is not life threatening. Anxiety is transient and comes and goes, and YOU WILL GET BETTER and resume normal life. Most people are not able to gain complete relief without medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective and is considered a person’s first step in the recovery process. Often, the best results are gained through a combination of therapy and medication. The SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are commonly used for anxiety. These drugs include the following: Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), and Luvox (fluvoxamine). Other medications are also prescribed, but will not be listed in this blog.
If you are suffering with anxiety, be honest about your situation and seek help. The longer you postpone treatment the worse the condition can become. You may have been suffering with or dealing with some of these symptoms all of your life, but didn’t know there was a name for your symptoms. People have varying degrees of the symptoms. You may have mild anxiety that you have tried to deal with for decades, and you didn’t know what was wrong. Or you may have had some serious symptoms. Be wise about your health and take full responsibility for any condition you may have. Proper treatment may improve the quality of your life exponentially.