Taking an examination, going for a job interview and attending an important social event are all incidences which naturally call for some level of anxiety. It is normal to be anxious in these situations, and others, as anxiety is the natural response of the body to stress. It is when these feelings of anxiety are excessive and become disproportionate to feelings of happiness and well-being, that anxiety can be a cause for concern.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition affecting people in the United States. Moreover, the global prevalence of this mental illness varies from 2.5% to 7% by country. It was estimated that approximately 284 million people around the world experienced an anxiety disorder of some sort in 2017; once again reaffirming that anxiety is the most prevalent health condition.
Anxiety medication is any therapeutic which has been specially developed for the treatment of anxiety symptoms. These medicines can provide the temporary relief of anxiety, albeit with possible adverse effects. There are some anxiety therapeutics which can be used for longer treatment periods as well.
Statistically, the use of anti-anxiety tablets has been more frequent for women than for men, according to a 2019 survey. Furthermore, this data went on to show that those aged between 45 and 64 years were shown to most frequently use these anxiolytics.
Possible Anxiety Symptoms
- Excessive worrying: this is one of the most frequently reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Worry is a normal feeling, even on an everyday basis but for this condition to be considered a symptom of anxiety, the intensity of worry must be severe and occur on most days of the week, for six months of longer. If the above criteria are met, then this symptom can be a sign of a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
- Avoiding social interactions: you can be possibly experiencing a social anxiety disorder if you feel:
o Overly anxious about or fearful about social gatherings
o You are avoiding social events because of these negative feelings
o Intensely worried about the judgement or scrutiny of people
o Fearful of being embarrassed or humiliated in the presence of others
- People who suffer from this disorder are often extremely shy or quiet, especially when meeting new people. This mental illness is generally diagnosed very early on in life; in fact about 20% of cases are diagnosed by the age of 11 years, with approximately 80% being diagnosed by the age of 20 years.
- Restlessness: this symptom of anxiety is almost as common as excessive worrying, and can be characterised by feelings of being ‘on edge’. Although this symptom may be frequent amongst anxiety patients, not all those with the disorder experience feelings of restlessness. It is, however, used as a red flag when diagnosing the condition.
What is the Cause of Anxiety?
There may be many different causes for the onset of an anxiety disorder. These can be associated with physical, emotional, financial and physiological issues. Some possible causes are:
- Genetics: researchers have found that anxiety can be hereditary; this means that if you have someone in your family who has an anxiety disorder, it is likely to be passed down to you. But it is also possible to have the mental illness even if no one in your family has suffered from anxiety as well.
- Environmental triggers: stressors, such as financial problems, trouble at work or relationship difficulties can contribute to the onset of an anxiety disorder.
- Medical factors: a possible cause of anxiety could also be certain medical issues like the effects of a medication or the symptoms of a disease.
- Trauma: those who have suffered extensive trauma are particular at risk for developing anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How to Treat Anxiety
- There are natural means of treating anxiety but these are generally not effective for severe cases of the illness.
- An apparent indictor of severe anxiety, which warrants the use of pharmaceuticals, is when the symptoms of the mental health condition disrupt the daily functioning and quality of life of an individual.
- The first step to evaluating your medical condition is to determine if the symptoms of anxiety are debilitating to your life or not. It is then appropriate to analyse your symptoms to determine which type of anxiety disorder you may have.
- Once you are aware of the type of anxiety disorder you may have, you can then explore measurers to seek effective treatment. Your doctor may prescribe certain anxiolytic medications, such as benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepines.
- Anti-anxiety tablets are not a cure for the mental condition, anxiety. They are, rather, a way of easing the symptoms of the condition so that you may continue with a healthy, balanced life. For the management of anxiety symptoms, a proper dosing schedule and treatment plan, suited to your medical condition, is required and can be attained by evaluating different factors relating to your diagnosis.
Medication to Treat Anxiety
Benzodiazepines: these are psychoactive medications which can be useful in the management of the symptoms of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are thought to be successors of the therapeutics, barbiturates, as they are considered to be both safer and more efficacious. These medicines work to treat anxiety by influencing the primary role of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is to inhibit the transmission of chemical messages between the nerve cells and the brain.
Non-benzodiazepines: these are a class of anxiety medication similar to that of benzodiazepines in terms of functioning, side effects and potential risks, but they differ from benzodiazepines on a molecular level. Non-benzodiazepines are effective for the treatment of anxiety as they also potentiate the inhibitory effects of GABA.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are commonly referred to as anti-depressant medications. They influence the levels of serotonin (mood hormone) in the brain by inhibiting the reuptake of said hormone. By increasing the levels of this ‘feel good hormone’, the patient is essentially equipped to feel happier and less tense, as a result of treatment. SSRIs are effective for the treatment of GAD, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia and panic disorder as well.