Some Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of living. It’s a biological reaction—the body’s way of telling us something isn’t right. It keeps us from harm’s way and prepares us to act quickly in the face of danger. But if your anxiety becomes overwhelming and persistent, or if it interferes with your regular daily activities, or even makes them impossible, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can be treated by a wide range of mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and psychiatric nurses. Increasingly aware of the problems of anxiety disorders and depression, primary care physicians make frequent diagnoses, and they may prescribe medication or refer a patient to a mental health provide
No: Generalized anxiety disorder, also known as GAD, is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with this disorder experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
Success of treatment varies, but most people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care. Benefits of CBT are usually seen in 12 to 16 weeks. Medication may be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on severity of symptoms, other medical conditions and individual circumstances. It often takes time and patience to find the drug that works best for you. Treatment may be complicated if you have more than one anxiety disorder or if they suffer from depression, substance abuse, or other co-existing conditions. This is why treatment must be tailored specifically for each person.
Treatments for anxiety disorders may include medication or therapy; both types have been found effective. A combination of medication and therapy may also be effective. The decision about treatment is based on your needs and preferences. Discuss your options with a professional who is familiar with your diagnosis and overall health. Scientific evidence is growing about complementary and alternative treatment, which is an approach to health care that exists outside conventional medicine practiced in the United States.
Consult a doctor or therapist to get a proper diagnosis and to learn about treatment options, length of treatment, side effects, time commitment, and other health issues to help you decide on the best treatment approach for you.
Four major classes of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders:
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors)
- tricyclic antidepressants
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in October 2004 that antidepressant medications, including SSRIs, may increase suicidal thoughts and behavior in a small number of children and adolescents. However, the FDA has not prohibited or removed these medications, and no suicides were reported in the studies that led to the warning.
You should not necessarily refuse to give your child medication, but you should watch for signs of depression and talk to your child’s doctor or therapist about any concerns. Untreated anxiety disorders in children increases the risk for depression, social isolation, substance abuse, and suicide.