Anxiety is the body's natural response to danger. Commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response, a certain level of anxiety is not detrimental to your health.
Anxiety should not cross the line from being at a productive level of stimulation to causing you to lose your sense of well-being.
When we are juggling too many responsibilities in our lives, our anxiety levels can build incrementally without our realizing it. Sometimes anxiety creeps up on us and we begin to have symptoms without realizing their origin.
Could you be suffering from anxiety without knowing it? Here are some signs to look for.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Alone or in combination, these symptoms are signs of anxiety:
- Feelings of apprehension, fear, worry or dread
- Difficulty concentrating
- Panic attacks
Other Physical Manifestations
Anxiety often presents with a variety of physical complaints that cannot easily be identified as anxiety. This scenario can cause confusion between an anxiety disorder and an entirely unrelated physical condition.
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
When to See a Physician
If your worries and fears prevent you from enjoying life and easily managing your daily activities, it is time to seek professional help. Your primary care physician can help you sort through your symptoms to determine if you have an anxiety disorder or an underlying medical condition.
Here are a variety of self-help treatments suggested for anxiety disorders:
- Practice relaxation techniques: deep breathing, massage and aromatherapy
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get sufficient sleep (reduce nightly T.V. and use of electronics)
- Exercise: try daily yoga or a quiet walk
Professional treatments suggested for anxiety disorders include:
- Medication: Benzodiazepines and antidepressants are commonly prescribed for anxiety. Both can be habit-forming and carry side effects (so require close monitoring).
- Behavioral therapy: The goal of behavioral therapy is to identify and modify the behaviors, not the underlying issues related to your anxiety. This is done with the guidance of a licensed therapist specializing in anxiety disorders.
- A combination of both medication and behavioral therapy: Sometimes anti-anxiety medication is prescribed for the short term while behavioral therapy is initiated.
If your anxiety is not caused by a medical condition and is diagnosed as a true anxiety disorder, there are many options available to control your symptoms. Explore all options with your primary care physician and make an educated choice to improve your life.