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Anxiety Disorders

(Chronic Free-Floating Anxiety)

Definition

Anxiety is a state of dread, tension, and unease. It is considered a normal response to stress or uncertain situations. Feeling anxious for long periods of time or at intense levels may mean that you have an anxiety disorder. You may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if the anxiety:
The most common types of anxiety disorders are:
Anxiety may occur with other conditions, such as alcohol use disorder, drug abuse, and depression.

Causes

Anxiety disorders may result from a combination of factors, such as:
Chemical imbalances in the brain may also play a role.

Risk Factors

Anxiety disorders are nearly twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of anxiety disorders include:

Symptoms

Psychological symptoms may include:
Physical symptoms may include:
Symptoms of Anxiety
Physiological effects of anxiety
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Diagnosis

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:
You may be referred to a psychotherapist for further evaluation.

Treatment

Effective treatment usually involves a combination of interventions, including:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Get sufficient rest and sleep.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
  • 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.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Practice deep breathing and meditation.
  • Learn how to do progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Work with a massage therapist.
  • Engage in pleasurable activities.
  • Do yoga.

Social Support

  • Have a strong support system of family and friends.
  • Seek therapy to improve your coping skills.
  • Join a support group.

Psychotherapy

This therapy addresses thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that play a role in anxiety. It helps you work through traumas and conflicts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 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.

Medication

For severe anxiety or anxiety disorder, medications may include:
  • Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants
  • Buspirone
  • Benzodiazepines
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications. Some types may cause dependence.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of anxiety:

RESOURCES

Anxiety and Depression Association of America http://www.adaa.org

Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org

Canadian Psychological Association http://cpa.ca

References

Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2016.

Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 23, 2015. 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.

12/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Javnbakht M, Hejazi Kenari R, Ghasemi M. Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009;15(2):102-104.

9/12/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Li AW, Goldsmith CA. The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. Altern Med Rev. 2012;17(1):21-35.

11/6/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mars B, Heron J, Crane C, et al. Clinical and social outcomes of adolescent self harm: Population based birth cohort study. BMJ. 2014;349:g5954.

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