Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting millions of Americans each year. There’s no reason to be ashamed of these symptoms – instead, know that treatment can help you find relief.
Symptoms of anxiety
Is it anxiety? It could be. Most of us know anxiety when we experience it, but casually brush it off knowing it’ll go away eventually. But there are warning signs, tell-tale symptoms of an issue that could have terrible consequences if ignored. If you have constant symptoms like trembling, sweating, fast breathing, trouble concentrating, or think something bad might happen to you, your anxiety could be morphing into something worse.
What is the definition of anxiety?
Occasional anxiety is normal. You may feel anxious when confronted with an issue at home, before making a presentation, or before deciding which car to buy. But anxiety disorders are more than short-term fear or worry. For someone experiencing an anxiety disorder, the feelings don’t go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms can interfere with your daily life, including school, work, and relationships, resulting in generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobias.
What are the major anxiety disorders?
If symptoms of anxiety persist and interfere with your life, they may have morphed into one or more anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder, where you have chronic anxiety, exaggerated tension and worry, even without extenuating circumstances.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder accompanied by recurring, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions). Some repetitive behaviors like hand counting, checking, washing, or cleaning are often done with the wish of blocking obsessive thoughts or making them disappear. Doing these so-called “rituals,” however, only gives short-term relief, while not doing them could boost anxiety.
- Panic disorder is known for repeated and unexpected episodes of intense fear followed by physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, or stomach problems.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may happen following a terrifying event where physical harm occurred or was threatened. This includes violent personal or witnessed assaults, manmade or natural disasters, or accidents. This may even occur after “less-traumatic” events such as parent’s fighting/divorcing, cyber-bullying or an embarrassing event occuring in public.
- Agoraphobia is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in daily life. This disorder can be limited to a single situation, such as a fear of spiders or going out in public.
There are common risk factors to be aware of for anxiety and anxiety disorders, including stress at home, work, and school, and exposure to traumatic events where death was witnessed or threatened. Other factors include personality, inheritance, other mental health disorders, substance abuse, and environmental factors like a dangerous job.
Prevalence of anxiety disorders
Some people who experience anxiety may suffer in silence and shame, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You are not alone. Some anxiety can and does go away on its own, which is why some people don’t think about it often. But anxiety symptoms that don’t go away are the bigger problem, often resulting in a full-blown anxiety disorder with symptoms often treatable with medicine like ketamine and therapy. How prevalent are anxiety disorders?
- According to the U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Comorbidity Study Replication, slightly more than 19 percent of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder in any given year.
- Women (24.3 percent) are more affected than men (14.3 percent).
- Anxiety disorders affect 22.3 percent of adults 18- to 29-years old; 22.7 percent for people 30- to 44-years old; 20.6 percent for those 45- to 59-years old; and about nine percent for people 60-years old and older.
Anxiety or anxiety disorders can only be properly diagnosed through a mental health evaluation, where you then discuss your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and personal and family history of mental illness. Your doctor will compare your symptoms to criteria in the DSM-5 before making a formal diagnosis and treatment recommendation.
Mild symptoms of anxiety, or those which don’t last very long, can often be managed through dietary or lifestyle changes, or through stress-relieving exercises such as yoga, meditation, running, etc. If none of these do the trick and you need further help, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy, hospitalization, or medication. Ketamine, a powerful anesthetic, has therapeutic properties known to soothe mental illness symptoms and chronic pain.
Research into IV ketamine infusions for the treatment of anxiety is still ongoing, but the current understanding is that ketamine can bind to receptors in the brain and increase the amount of a neurotransmitter, glutamate. This will set off a chain of reactions in the brain and impact emotional regulation.
To put this into layman’s terms, ketamine allows the brain to trigger hormones that create more positive emotions. One added benefit of ketamine infusion is that relief can occur within minutes rather than the weeks or months an antidepressant or therapy may take.
We invite you to learn more about the innovative new therapies we offer our patients for rapid relief.