Let’s face it: There’s almost always something to feel anxious about as a member of the human race. A quick scroll through your newsfeed reveals dozens of new phenomena to feel nervous about hourly. Factor in a sick parent, student debt, a big test, an important job interview, or relationship struggles, and anyone’s anxiety is bound to kick into overdrive.

These feelings of worry or nervousness, while unpleasant and unwelcome (particularly in the wee hours of the night!), are natural. Sometimes that signal that something isn’t quite right can even help you avoid danger and make important and meaningful life changes.

But there’s another kind of anxiety, the non-helpful, persistent, pervasive variety that disrupts the normal rhythms of daily life so significantly that it hampers your work, education, or social life. It can be the mark of an anxiety disorder, something nearly one-third of adults in the United States will struggle with at one time or another.

A condition affecting more women than men, anxiety disorders can leave sufferers so consumed by fear and utterly drained of energy that they are unable to maintain relationships and participate in usual activities.

What You Need to Know About Anxiety Disorders

There are actually three types of anxiety disorders — generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and panic disorders. Far more layered than the typical 3 am concerns we all experience, those suffering from anxiety disorders often experience intense, sustained anxiousness and nervousness to an excessive level.

Not surprisingly, symptoms of this mental health disorder extends to our physical bodies as well, and may include restlessness, a heart-pounding sensation, muscle tension and fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances, according to Understanding Anxiety Disorders, a guide produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The condition can often leave individuals so consumed by fear and drained of energy that it’s difficult to multitask with the usual life responsibilities. The good news is that anxiety is a treatable disorder. By engaging in treatment and entering recovery, people with an anxiety disorder can learn to manage their symptoms, feel better, and lead a full, meaningful life.

Anxiety Attack

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

There’s no cut and dried, buttoned-up explanation for where anxiety disorders come from that fits every unique situation. One thing researchers and medical experts know for sure, however, is that it’s unlikely that a single factor is to blame. The most likely cause is a combination of genetics, chemical or other changes in the brain, not to mention environmental factors.

Traumatic experiences can also contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. If you or someone you care about has experienced a traumatic incident, it is critically important to share that information as it may be contributing to your condition. When it comes to mental health issues, including anxiety, working with a trained healthcare professional is an essential step to moving forward.

Anxiety, Substance Abuse & Eating Disorders

When your worrying rises to the level of anxiety disorder, there’s a greater risk for substance use and abuse. Sufferers may self-medicate in an attempt to manage their symptoms. And while this may seem to work for a while, it usually leads to the development of a co-occurring addiction involving alcohol, illicit drugs or misused prescription medications. Mental health disorders are also common in those with eating disorders.

Comorbidity in substance use and mental health disorders is very prevalent in the US, with  7.7 million adults reporting co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, according to drugabuse.gov. These dual diagnoses may vary in severity, but they usually contribute to making the other condition worse. To avoid exacerbating either issue, co-occurring treatment that addresses both the substance use and the mental health disorder is recommended.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be managed in several ways, but treatment often includes a combination of medication and therapy. It’s important to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider, making decisions based on individual health goals and priorities.

The path to recovery should be tailored to your unique situation, including the severity of symptoms. It is also important to practice good self-care.

Medications (particularly a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) can help manage many of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. With every person responding differently to these medications, the prescribing healthcare professional may try different doses and different varieties of medication before finding the most effective approach. In milder cases of anxiety disorders, medication may not be necessary. Therapy or lifestyle changes (e.g., smoking cessation, decreased caffeine intake, regular exercise, or mindfulness exercises) may be sufficient to better manage symptoms.

Meadows Ranch Brain Center

Healthcare professionals may also recommend behavioral therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or other forms of psychotherapy as standalone treatment or in combination with medications depending on the severity of symptoms. Peer and family support is also an integral part of treatment for an anxiety disorder. Positive family members, caregivers, and peers can be part of a comprehensive treatment team, a real game-changer in learning how to manage anxiety in the future.

Meadows Ranch facility

Help for Those Struggling With Anxiety

If you or someone you care about is struggling with anxiety, please know that while it may seem overwhelming, there is hope. At The Meadows Ranch, our competent, compassionate clinicians and therapists specialize in treating not only eating disorders but anxiety and all of its underlying causes.

We help patients heal and find freedom from debilitating anxiety and learn the skills necessary to build and re-build fulfilling relationships. Reach out today!

Call 866-390-5100