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Treating Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Everyone gets anxious sometimes, especially when facing challenges. But if anxiety becomes constant and interferes with your daily life, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders come in many forms, with different triggers for different people. However, they all share a common feature: intense fear or worry that feels way bigger than the situation causing it.

An anxiety disorder can make daily life feel overwhelming. But here's the good news: you're not alone. Anxiety disorders are actually quite common, affecting more than 30% of adults in the US at some point in their lives.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can come in many shapes and sizes. While not a complete list, here are some of the most common types of anxiety disorders people have.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Constant worry and fear disrupting your day, or a feeling of impending doom, could signal generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder

Panic attacks are sudden surges of terror triggered by situations you dread or arising unexpectedly, and can feel like heart attacks.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Often after a terrifying event, PTSD patients can experience frequent flashbacks that feel like they are reliving the event. 

Phobias & Irrational Fears

Phobias are intense fears of objects (spiders, needles) or situations (flying, heights) that people go to extreme lengths to avoid.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms 

It's hard to know when it's just 'nerves' or something more. But anxiety disorders go beyond regular nervousness. If you struggle with the following symptoms repeatedly, it might be time to seek additional help.


Diagnosing Anxiety Disorder

Start by visiting your primary care doctor to rule out any physical causes for your anxiety. If needed, they can refer you to a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist (a medical doctor specializing in mental health conditions) or a psychologist (who can diagnose anxiety and provide therapy).

To diagnose anxiety, you might be asked about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This helps to understand your situation and see if there are any other mental health issues present, like depression, which can make diagnosis more challenging. You may also be asked to take an assessment based on criteria used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to better pinpoint a specific anxiety disorder diagnosis.

Image by National Cancer Institute

Treatments for Anxiety

The two main treatments recommended for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) and various types of anti-anxiety medications.
Psychotherapy can help reduce your anxiety symptoms. Two common approaches are:

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): This teaches you skills to manage anxious thoughts and get back to normal activities.

  • Exposure Therapy: This helps you relax and gradually face situations you fear.

And while medications can't completely cure your anxiety disorder, they can greatly improve symptoms allowing you to function better for a fuller quality of life. 

If these recommended treatments don't provide enough relief, oral ketamine therapy might be an option. 

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