Before anyone should look into a treatment for anxiety, they should be sure to know that they are, indeed, suffering from it. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. There isn’t a quick blood test one can take to determine whether or not a person has an anxiety disorder. The first thing that one needs to do is to identify the symptoms of anxiety within themselves.
The symptoms people should look out for in order to take the first step in determining whether or not they have anxiety is to look for symptoms like excessive worrying. This isn’t just the regular amount of worrying that affects most people, but constant worrying for at least six months. There’s also agitation, fatigue, and restlessness to watch out for. If a person has difficulty maintaining concentration, trouble sleeping, or panic attacks, they should take note. Finally, be on the lookout for irrational fears towards animals, the environment, injury, or public places.
These symptoms can be indicative of anxiety, but could also be caused by something else. The most important thing to do first is to consult with a doctor. Doctors are responsible to check a person’s medications and other influences on one’s life in order to ensure that their anxiety isn’t being caused by something that can be controlled. This could be something as simple as an undesired side effect of medication.
Once any possible alternative explanations for anxiety have been explored, a person can then be diagnosed. In cases of identifying anxiety and what type of anxiety it is, a psychologist or psychiatrist is the best person to consult as they are trained to specifically identify these disorders.
If a person is then successfully diagnosed with having an anxiety disorder, they are then ready to undergo treatment for their condition. This is a serious issue that can affect many aspects of a person’s everyday life and should be taken seriously. There are a few options available for treatment:
The first on the list is to get psychotherapy. An anxiety disorder is something that isn’t caused by eating too little or too much of anything in most cases and usually has a strong psychological component. There are some people who would, of course, say that getting a “shrink” means that there’s something wrong with them and that they’d prefer to look for alternative methods of treatment.
Although alternative methods of treatment are available, this is the one that should really be considered first, and for good reason. If someone has the flu, a person can either choose to treat their stuffy nose, or actually take something for the virus. Put in simpler terms, a person is better off fighting the disease rather than one of its symptoms. This is true of psychotherapy. If one wants to get rid of anxiety, one needs to treat what’s causing it rather than the effect of anxiety.
This is the biggest and most persuasive, argument for this form of treatment. It’s also the most effective.
The most commonly used treatment for anxiety is medication. There are a number of medications available for treatment, but they generally fall under different forms of serotonin inhibitors, certain types of antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, benzodiazepines, and beta blockers. This is quite a list, but through consultation with a doctor or psychiatrist, proper and effective medication can be found. Do not doubt, though, that it can take a try at a few different medications before the most effective one is found. Be aware that these medications can also have undesired side effects. (1)
Some people eschew more traditional forms of treatment and instead look for natural or alternative treatments. Before considering this, remember that none of these alternatives have been proven as effective. There is the benefit with these of having no side effects, however, in most cases. Alternative/natural treatments include nutritional supplements, herbal supplements, acupuncture, and aromatherapy.
There are also lifestyle changes that can be made to improve a person’s anxiety. This involves targeting triggers for anxiety and eliminating or reducing them in addition to other techniques that can be used to reduce anxiety. First, dietary changes can be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Caffeine is one drug that many people consume but don’t know that it might affect them in a negative way. Too much caffeine can result in feelings of anxiety throughout the day. A reduction or elimination of caffeine in the diet can help to reduce those feelings, significantly. There are also certain refined sugars and heavy foods that can contribute to mood swings and even feelings of anxiety.(2)
There are also relaxation techniques, such as meditation, that can be effective as well as the simple, old recommendation of exercise.
As always, before seeking treatment for anxiety, be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure that you make the best choices for you!