Diagnosing medical conditions can be a difficult process. Many illnesses carry similar symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Furthermore, despite the fact that the intensity of these symptoms can vary according to different medical conditions, it may be tricky to even diagnose the intensity of each one.
As a general rule, different individuals process symptoms in varying ways. As an example, someone with a high pain tolerance may downplay how severe his or her condition actually is. Therefore, while these symptoms are associated with many types of illnesses, it is possible that they are not caused by any sickness or medical condition.
One of the most common causes for feeling ill comes from anxiety. A recent medical study from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that anxiety affects an estimated 40 million adults every year. Because anxiety is common, it is difficult to identify whether your medical symptoms are the result of a specific condition or simply general anxiety. While it can be a challenge to differentiate between anxiety and illnesses, there are a couple of signs to look for in an attempt to properly diagnose what you feel. Despite the fact that anxiety can be treated by mental health professionals, you can save yourself time by correctly identifying your symptoms and knowing who to contact for help.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
You may be affected by anxiety for a short period of time, but it may also become a long-term issue. In any case, an anxiety disorder can affect both your physical and mental health. In fact, long-term anxiety can create a plethora of chronic physical conditions. In addition to nausea, diarrhea and dizziness, physical side effects of anxiety can be a variety of digestive problems. Moreover, anxiety can cause cardiovascular conditions, respiratory problems and urinary issues. If you frequently experience any of these symptoms when you are under stressful conditions, it is most likely a result of anxiety rather than a physical illness. You may experience other physical conditions from anxiety, including the following symptoms:
- Feeling faint or weak
- Loss of appetite
- Tingling sensation
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sweating excessively
How do you know if you have anxiety?
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. Anxiety is a natural emotion brought on by stressful experiences, with some common examples including waiting for exam results, speaking in public, starting a new job or moving to a new location. However, if you feel symptoms of anxiety over a long period of time, it is possible you have a medical anxiety disorder.
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One of the most common conditions related to this condition is a generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder affects your daily life, causing you to hold onto your worries and become distressed over small issues. For instance, if someone asks you a simple question and you immediately feel stressed and experience physical discomfort, you are most likely suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Furthermore, there are other types of anxiety disorders, such as:
- Panic disorder, which may cause you to experience regular and/or uncontrollable panic attacks.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which involves repetitive behaviors and unwanted urges.
- Agoraphobia, which relates to feeling anxious about particular situations, such as leaving the house or being in a crowd of people.
As a general rule, phobias are classified as anxiety disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which occurs due to a distressing life event, is also considered an anxiety disorder. To find out if you have any of these types of anxiety disorders, you must be diagnosed by a mental health professional.
How is anxiety treated?
Anxiety has a number of possible treatments, and the majority of patients who receive treatment go on to live high-quality lives. Potential treatments include therapy, medication, making lifestyle changes and joining support groups. A combination of those usually works best, but what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Thus, your doctor will be able to tell you which courses of these treatments are well-suited for your particular needs. In any case, it is important to note that coming up with a treatment plan may take several possible attempts, so do not be discouraged if your first treatment plan does not work.
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One popular therapy treatment many people with anxiety disorders try is cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of treatment focuses on identifying your thoughts and attitudes and delineating how they are responsible for your behaviors and emotions. As such, cognitive behavior therapy teaches you how to deal with distinct problems and provides overall coping strategies. Another therapy method for anxiety disorders is applied relaxation therapy, which teaches you how to relax your muscles while you are experiencing episodes of anxiety.
Medication is usually prescribed after therapy courses have already been tried. In most cases, anxiety is treated through a combination of medication and therapy. Overall, there are many different types of medication used to treat anxiety. Some of the most-prescribed medications are:
- Beta-blockers are for physical symptoms caused by anxiety, such as palpitations, shaking and a rapid heartbeat.
- Antidepressants affect the activity of specific brain chemicals regulating your mood. If your brain has a chemical imbalance, your mood can be lifted by altering your brain chemistry. However, antidepressants do not work for everybody. There are several types of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclics and tricyclic-related medications. Only a doctor will be able to tell which of these, if any, will be best suited for your own anxiety issues.
- Pregabalin is typically used to treat epilepsy, but it may also be used to treat some anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder.
- Benzodiazepine tranquilizers can be addictive and can cause some pretty significant side effects. However, low doses over a short period of time can be beneficial to help you through a period of crisis. Moreover, benzodiazepine tranquilizers are only prescribed to people with extreme anxiety in their daily lives.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the simplest treatments for anxiety is exercise. By doing 30-minute workouts on a daily basis, you can not only improve your physique, but also your mental health. As such, you should choose to engage in a work out that keeps your mind from lingering on anxiety-inducing thoughts. Studies also show that regularly working out helps to treat fatigue and improves your cognitive functions, countering many of the symptoms related to anxiety.
It is important to choose a workout routine that you will enjoy doing, so you can look forward to the exercise. You may find that your anxiety, as well as the physical symptoms caused by your anxiety, will be significantly reduced. In some cases, they may even be completely gone. If you feel anxious, finding the energy to work out may be challenging. However, this method is worth making the effort.
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