Anxiety and Nervousness
Everyone feels anxious and nervous to some degree throughout their life. While fear and anxiety can be strong emotions to deal with, they are also helpful in that they warn us to danger or threats and help keep us safe while adapting to a new environment. When fear or anxiety becomes so extreme that it causes an overwhelming amount of distress, or impairs one’s ability to function at work, in school or disrupts our relationships, an anxiety disorder may be the underlying cause. Anxiety disorders are an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions in which fear and anxiety are common factors. While it is not fully understood what causes some individuals to have an anxiety disorder, most mental health providers believe that there are multiple risk factors associated with their development including life experiences, environmental factors, genetic markers and neurobiological conditions.
Types of anxiety disorders
Depending on who you are asking, there are five different anxiety disorders, but several subcategories can be distinguished as well.
5 Anxiety disorder types
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Although each disease has unique characteristics, they can also have overlapping symptoms such as
- Panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
- Not being able to stay calm
- Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
Individuals who are concerned about symptoms can take an online self-assessment quiz to determine their extent. While this quiz isn’t a diagnosis, it can help individuals decide if they need to consult a medical practitioner.
During an examination, your doctor will complete medical assessment and review the history as well as conducting tests to rule out any illness that might be causing the symptoms. Unfortunately, there are no lab tests that can identify or diagnosis anxiety disorders.
Treatment for anxiety disorders can include medications, coping techniques, and therapy. While there is often a stigma attached to counseling or therapy, neither should be discounted. Therapy can offer patients a safe space to talk about their anxiety and issues that may be contributing factors. Also, the counselor can help patients pinpoint their fears and focus treatment. While discussing the things that can be the source of anxiety is very helpful, patients often need medications to aid them in controlling all the physical effects that anxiety can produce.
There are three different classifications of medications that can be used to treat anxiety, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and Buspirone. Buspirone is an antianxiety medication that can be effective for generalized anxiety disorder but is used much less frequently than other medicines.
Antidepressants are often the first line of treatment for patients that have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Of these antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro are often the first choice. Despite what many may think, antidepressants aren’t addictive in the traditional sense and are very useful, although it can take several weeks to feel the effects entirely.
Benzodiazepines affect the chemical messengers that work in the brain’s fear response system. They are used as quick relief from the symptoms associated with anxiety. Because they act immediately, they are typically prescribed during the first few weeks of treatment while waiting for an antidepressant to take effect. Although benzodiazepines are considered reasonably safe, they are usually prescribed for a relatively short amount of time because the body can become accustomed to how they feel, making them less effective over time.
Side effects of anxiety medication
While the effects of these drugs can vary from product to product, there are a few that seem to be shared among most, nausea, headache, and dizziness. Some of the most prescribed medications can result in weakness, loss of appetite, dry mouth, excessive sweating, and nervousness or weight gain and occasional difficulties with sexual function. Benzodiazepines, used for immediate relief, are known to cause personality changes in some individuals, including aggressiveness and violent behavior as well as suicidal thoughts. Although serotonin reuptake inhibitors can cause any number of these symptoms, they typically produce the least amount of side effects when compared to other antidepressants and anxiety medications.
Anxiety Treatment at EZCare Clinic in San Francisco
Although any medication prescribed for anxiety can cause side effects that range from mild to severe, not getting treatment for such a life-altering condition can be much worse. The caring staff at EZCare Clinic is trained to help patients work through their disease with the least invasive methods possible. While no treatment is perfect, suffering from the effects of an anxiety disorder is unnecessary. Our goal is to design a treatment program that is safe and effective.
The clinic is open every day, including weekends from 11 am to 7 pm. Walk-ins are accepted, however, you can make an appointment online or give us a call at (415) 966-0848.