Anxiety

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources

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What to Do About Anxiety

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Anxiety causes, treatments and home remedies

By Katherine Solem 

 

Anxiety, or the feeling of nervousness or fear, can be a common part of life. While daily stresses can cause anxiety, sometimes this anxiety can become extreme to the point where it interferes with your life. If this occurs, it's important to know what measures to take to help get your anxiety under control. Read about the causes, symptoms and treatments for anxiety.

 

Causes of Anxiety

  • Drugs: Some drugs or medications can cause anxiety. These can include: ADHD medications, alcohol, amphetamines, bronchodilators for asthma, caffeine, cocaine, cold remedies, decongestants, diet pills, nicotine, thyroid medications, and tricyclic antidepressants. While in some of these cases anxiety is a side effect, in others, withdrawal can actually cause the anxiety.
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  • Diet: Having an unbalanced diet can impact your anxiety levels. Specifically, low levels of vitamin B12 can increase your anxiety levels.
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  • Specific Event: Many times, anxiety can be caused by a stressful event. This can be range from anxiety over an exam to the more severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which develops after an individual experiences a traumatic event such as a brutal attack or assault or war.
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  • Anxiety Disorders:
       
    • Panic Attacks: Characterized by sudden onset of intense anxiety. Breathing may be difficult and sometimes individuals feel as though they are choking.
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    • Phobias: Phobia means fear. There are many types of phobias, each referring to an extreme fear of a distinct situation or thing. Phobias cause feelings of panic and intense anxietywhen presented with the object that is feared. Some examples of phobias include:
         
      • Agoraphobia: Fear of places or situations that can cause you to feel trapped.
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      • Social phobia: Fear of social or performance situations.
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    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Characterized by constant, recurring impulses which, if not met, cause extreme anxiety. This usually involves the need to perform seemingly purposeless acts called ‘rituals' in order to avoid extreme anxiety.
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    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): After having experienced a traumatic incident such as sexual assault or combat, individuals sometimes feel as though they are re-experiencing the past traumatic event. Such recurrences of the traumatic event can persist even after a significant amount of time has passed since the original event. This can result in intense physical and emotional reactions to anything that reminds you of the event.
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    • Acute stress disorder: Intense anxiety or re-experiencing of a traumatic event soon after a traumatic event.
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    • Generalized anxiety disorder: While daily life can cause anxiety, this disorder is characterized by persistent anxiety for 6 months or longer and can occur in conjunction with other anxiety disorders.
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    • Anxiety due to medical condition: In some instances, anxiety can be caused by specific physical problems.
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    • Substance-induced anxiety disorder: Anxiety symptoms are the result of abuse of drugs or medications or exposure to toxic chemicals.
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    • Separation anxiety disorder: This childhood disorder is characterized by anxiety caused by separation from parents or parental figures.
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Symptoms of Anxiety

Risk Factors for Anxiety

    • Being female: Statistically, more women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men.
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    • Trauma: Witnessing or taking part in a traumatic experience, specifically during childhood, can predispose you to have an anxiety disorder later in life.
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    • Stress: The compounding of small stressors or chronic stress due to a chronic illness, such as cancer, can increase your likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder.
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    • Personality: Some individuals' personalities are more susceptible to anxiety disorders. Specifically, some personality disorders are thought to be closely linked to anxiety disorders.
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    • Close relatives with anxiety disorders: Studies have shown that anxiety may have a genetic component. As a result, having a close relative with an anxiety disorder increases your likelihood of developing one as well.
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    • Substance use: Use of drugs or alcohol can increase your likelihood to develop anxiety or even worsen any already present anxiety.

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