How to Treat Symptoms of Anxiety

Three Parts:Recognizing the Symptoms of AnxietyTreating Symptoms of Anxiety MedicallyEasing Symptoms of Anxiety at Home

Occasional worry is a normal part of life. However, people who suffer from anxiety experience constant, excessive, and intense worry, which negatively affects their daily lives and makes them more prone to depression. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to treat the symptoms of anxiety.

Part 1
Recognizing the Symptoms of Anxiety

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    Consider whether you feel constantly worried. A person with anxiety often feels like they worry too much about events or activities, due to unrealistic expectations. This type of worry is often very difficult to control, and can interfere with relationships, work, and other parts of life.
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    Think about whether you often feel depressed and moody. A person with anxiety is often depressed and moody due to the effects of constant fear and worry. They may lose interest in things that used to give them pleasure and have trouble with alcohol or drug abuse as a way to forget about their anxiety.
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    Ask yourself if you ever have suicidal thoughts. A person with severe anxiety may begin to have suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm due to depressive symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness and guilt.
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    Determine whether you display avoidance behaviors. A person with anxiety often avoids objects, places, or situations which make them feel helpless such as heights, social places, work etc. as a method of coping with their anxiety. However, this avoidance often makes them even more anxious in the long run.
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    Be honest with yourself about any drug or substance abuse. Due to exaggerated feelings of tension and worry, a person with anxiety may decide to self-medicate, or use chemical substances such as alcohol or cigarettes to suppress the symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness.
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    Look for hyperventilation. When a person feels overwhelmed by their anxiety, they may start to hyperventilate (breathe deeply and rapidly), and feel as if they can't get enough air in their lungs. Other physical symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating, shortness of breath.
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    Consider whether you are prone to oversensitivity. A person with anxiety is often highly sensitive and will often get angry or upset at the slightest provocation.
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    Understand the risk factors for anxiety. There are certain risk factors which make a person much more prone to developing anxiety. These include:
    • Trauma: Children and adults who have been victims of abuse or have witnessed a traumatic event are at a high risk of developing anxiety at some point in their lives.
    • Illness: People with a health condition or terminal illnesses such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, and others can often develop significant worry and anxiety about treatment, and what their future holds.
    • Stress build-up: A series of stressful life situations may finally trigger excessive anxiety. For instance, the death of a family member followed by frozen bank accounts.
    • Mental disorders: A person diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression will often experience anxiety symptoms. Unrealistic worry or fear also accompanies other mental health disorders such as OCD, phobias, and others.

Part 2
Treating Symptoms of Anxiety Medically

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    Take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This class of drugs includes fluoxetine, paroxetine and others. They work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin by specific brain nerve cells. As a result, more serotonin (also known as the happy hormone) will be released, thus easing symptoms of anxiety.
    • The initial dose of Fluoxetine is 20 mg every morning, followed by a maintenance dose of 20-60 mg. 20 mg of paroxetine is taken orally every morning, with a maintenance dose of 40 mg for up to 4 weeks.
    • Common side effects of SSRIs include sleeplessness, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction, but the side effects are fewer compared to tricyclic antidepressants.
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    Alternatively, take serotonin-neropinephrine reuptake inhibitors. SNRIs are a class of drugs with a dual mechanism, as they include both duloxetine and venlafaxine. They inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and neropinephrine in the brain cells, increasing the levels of these hormones and enhancing a person's mood.
    • 60 mg of duloxetine is administered orally once a day and 75 mg of venlafaxine is taken orally every day, with a maintenance dosage of a 75 mg increment every 4 days; the maximum dose is 225mg per day.
    • Side effects of SNRIs include insomnia, stomach upsets, headaches, and a minor rise in blood pressure, among others.
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    Get a prescription for benzodiazepines. This class of drugs include diazepam, alprazolam, and others. They are used for short-term anxiety management. They promote relaxation as well as reduce muscular tension.
    • Also known as Valium, diazepam is taken in 2 to 10 mg does, 2 to 4 times daily, depending on the severity of symptoms. Alprazolam is taken in 0.25 mg doses 2 to 3 times daily, with a maintenance dose of between 1 to 10 mg.
    • The main problems with Benzodiazepines are tolerance and dependence, as long-term use requires increased doses to achieve the same relief.
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    Try exposure therapy. This a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy where a person with anxiety is exposed gradually to situations and objects that trigger their fear, and they learn to become less sensitive to these triggers with time.
    • To deal with symptoms such as constant worry, tension, and hyperventilation, the person with anxiety is taught relaxation skills such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
    • Later in treatment, the person is later exposed to their trigger situations and encouraged to practice the relaxations skills they learned.
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    Sign up for acceptance and commitment therapy. This type of therapy allows a person with anxiety to accept their condition without judgment, and encourages them to commit to a behavioral change.
    • In a one-on-one session, the client is often taught skills for accepting stressful experiences, and learns to place them in a different context. This helps them to see the situation with more clarity, and puts their anxiety into perspective.
    • This process involves accepting negative experiences and facing up to uncomfortable thoughts. The client is then encouraged to develop a healthier, more positive attitude to their problems.
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    Find out about interpersonal therapy. This is a short-term supportive psychotherapy aimed at addressing interpersonal issues. It often involves 12 to 16 sessions, one hour every week.
    • The initial session often begins with gathering information about the person's depressive nature and personal experiences. This is followed by unlearning the depressive thoughts and managing personal experiences that cause anxiety.
    • Behavioral homework, such as personal observation of the anxiety symptoms, is usually assigned.

Part 3
Easing Symptoms of Anxiety at Home

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    Lean on your family and friends. Friends and family members are imperative in the life of a person with anxiety, especially during recovery, as they can offer understanding, support, and help.
    • Unfortunately, people with anxiety often do not feel like socializing, and they spend a lot of time alone, which can make recovery harder.
    • It's recommended that they participate in social activities and accept social invitations. Being connected with other people increases feelings of confidence and well-being.
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    Get some exercise. Exercising is a valuable tool in managing anxiety symptoms. It naturally alters the levels of brain chemicals such as serotonin, and endorphins that lift a person's mood.
    • Being physically active enhances mood, increases energy levels, improves sleep and appetite, distracts and blocks negative thoughts and worry, increases socializing opportunities, and enhances well-being.
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    Follow a healthy diet. Healthy eating habits can help to curtail anxiety symptoms. A healthy diet is fundamental for improving mental and physical health. A nourishing diet also enhances a person's sense of well-being.
    • Plenty of fruits, whole grains and vegetables will boost the production of serotonin, inducing a calming effect and improving brain function.
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    Join a support group. The most helpful kind of support often comes from people who have experienced similar problems. Support groups provide opportunities for people with anxiety to connect, share experiences, and develop ways of dealing with their difficulties.

Sources and Citations

  • Leahy, R. L. (2012). Treatment plans and interventions for depression and anxiety disorders. New York: Guilford.
  • Peters, M. D. (2012). Anxiety. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.

Article Info

Categories: Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management | Anxiety Disorders