By Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon
Psy.D., DABPS, C.HT.
Momentary anxiety is a normal yet unpleasant part of life from time to time. On the other hand, an anxiety disorder is when these feelings are much more intense and persistent and can greatly interfere in a person’s everyday life. An anxiety disorder is characterized by repeated episodes of sudden anxiety and fear, sometimes referred to as panic attacks.
The symptoms of these conditions can spiral and become difficult or impossible to control, often placing significant strain on your personal and professional activities. You may find yourself going out of your way to avoid activities or places that trigger your anxiety.
There are quite a few kinds of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder, among others. That said, many of the symptoms remain consistent between different types of anxiety.
Signs of Anxiety
- A sense of impending danger or panic
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Feeling weak
- Trouble focusing
- Trouble sleeping
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Avoidance of things that trigger anxiety
Different Anxiety Disorders
- Agoraphobia, where you avoid places or situations that cause anxiety
- Generalized anxiety disorder, where your sense of worry is out of proportion to the real danger
- Panic disorder, where you frequently experience panic attacks
- Separation anxiety disorder, where a child experiences disproportionate worry about separation from those with parental roles
Causes of Anxiety
Like other mental health conditions, anxiety disorders are not something a person develops because of a single factor. Instead, they are a mix of a number of biological, genetic, and environmental factors.
Underlying health problems or conditions often linked to anxiety include the following:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disorders like COPD or asthma
- Drug abuse
- Withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other medications
- Chronic pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing anxiety include the following:
- Trauma, especially that experienced early in life
- Stress from a health condition or illness
- Stress from everyday life
- Certain personality types
- A history of other mental health disorders
- Blood relatives who have had an anxiety disorder
- Drug or alcohol abuse
What was once known only as an anesthetic and pain reliever is now being hailed as an important advancement for the field of mental health treatment. Ketamine infusion therapy involves the administration of a single infusion or a series of infusions for the management of psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder, PTSD, acute suicidality). As ketamine infusion clinics in healthcare facilities become more available, psychiatric-mental health advanced practice nurses are collaborating with certified registered nurse anesthetists to provide ketamine therapy services for individuals with chronic and medication resistant mental health disorders.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling, is a treatment option where you work with a therapist or psychologist to find new ways to work through your anxiety symptoms. This typically comes in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to teach you how to improve symptoms and return to the things you have had to abandon because of your anxiety.
Some people can find relief from their anxiety symptoms with the right medications, such as some of the following:
- Certain antidepressants
- Anti-anxiety medications like buspirone
- Other medications like benzodiazepines or beta blockers
If you are feeling symptoms of anxiety, please visit your healthcare professional.
About the Author
Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon Psy.D., DABPS, C.HT. is a double board certified integrative and interventional psychologist, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and master success coach. She’s considered an expert in integrative health and believes in a holistic approach-treating the body and the mind. She leads a very successful integrative and functional health and wellness practice, serving clients locally and internationally. She and her multidisciplinary team focus on wellness, preventive care and coaching to help people live healthier, happier and more satisfying lives. What makes her truly unique and exceptional is her broad and deep skill set and her approach to health and wellness.
As the founder and director of Dr. Aimee and Associates, and now The Center for Integrative and Functional Health and Wellness, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon and her team of experts don’t just treat symptoms, they solve health problems, create better outcomes and change lives. As a coach, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon has worked with individuals and corporations including FedEx, UPS, McDonald’s, Red Bull and the U.S. Army. She is a frequent speaker at Harvard and regularly appears on television news shows such as ABC, NBC, and FOX. Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon also hosts the popular radio show, Mind Over Matters on AM 820, which airs every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. CST.
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