What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural and often useful signal from our unconscious that tells us we need to pay attention to something in our lives. For example, anxiety about an approaching deadline can motivate us to stay on task and avoid procrastination. Feeling anxious about a risky situation or decision may prompt us to reconsider.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it is exaggerated and irrational, when the symptoms of anxiety are not proportionate to their cause, and/or when it begins to consume and control one’s life. In addition to emotions such as fear, uneasiness, and panic, anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, muscle tension, nausea, sleeplessness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
There are several anxiety-related conditions identified by mental health professionals, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and other specific phobias.
If you are frequently overwhelmed by anxiety and feel that your anxiety is causing you to avoid situations or people and/or act compulsively or irrationally, you should seek help from a healthcare professional.
What is the treatment for anxiety?
There are many successful treatments for anxiety disorders. Most treatment approaches include medication and some form of psychotherapy. While medication can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, therapy helps the individual to change their thinking and behavior, addressing the causes of the anxiety. A common approach is to desensitize individuals to the situations or experiences that trigger their anxiety by helping them to think about and eventually face these situations with guidance and support from a therapist.
Depending on the type and severity of the disorder, treatment can often be completed successfully in a few months.