Get Treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD & other Psychiatric Disorders. Learn More About Behavioral Health →

Is it Anxiety? 

Share This Post:
Woman pondering anxious thoughts

Anxiety is a feeling that most people are familiar with to a certain extent. This normal emotion in humans is part of our fight-or-flight instinct. Its purpose is to keep us safe from harm or bring our awareness to something that requires our attention.   When this feeling doesn’t subside within a few moments, or is triggered without the presence of an actual threat, it  can become a behavioral health concern. With symptoms that range from inconvenient to debilitating, it’s no wonder that Google searches abound with questions like: Is it anxiety? At Xpress Wellness Behavioral Health, we recognize the difficulties that anxiety can pose to those who struggle with it. Here are some facts about anxiety, and how we help patients release tension, fears, and panic to achieve overall well being. 

What is Anxiety? 

Anxiety disorders often involve repetitive or persistent fear and worry over everyday activities, feelings, thoughts, or sensations. These episodes can last a long time, or can escalate quickly into intense fear or dread, peaking in a panic attack within a few minutes.  These feelings disrupt daily life and activities, are difficult for the sufferer to control, and are usually out of proportion to the perceived or actual danger. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – encompasses the persistent and excessive anxious thoughts and feelings about everyday activities, with the worry being disproportionate to the actual circumstance, and often causing physical symptoms 
  • Panic disorder – this condition occurs when bouts of intense fear, anxiety, or feelings of impending doom escalate and peak within a few minutes in a panic attack, often along with symptoms such as chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations (pounding, rapid, or fluttering heartbeat)
  • Social anxiety disorder – also known as agoraphobia, causes people to avoid situations or places that could trigger panic, make them feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed 
  • Phobias – intense anxiety when faced with specific objects or situations that often leads to panic attacks and avoidance of the triggers 
  • Substance-induced – these symptoms manifest from misusing drugs, or in response to certain medications, and from substance abuse or withdrawal from drugs and other medications 

Many underlying health issues can also cause anxiety to a severe degree. Common medical conditions that can cause anxiety include: 

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems, particularly hyperthyroidism 
  • Respiratory disorders like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Menopause (females)
  • Low Testosterone and/or reduced sexual function (males)
  • Tumors that affect fight-or-flight hormones (this is rare)

Individuals can have multiple anxiety disorders at the same time. Typical signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include: 

  • Feeling nervous, tense, or restless
  • A sense of impending doom, danger, or panic 
  • An elevated heart rate 
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation) 
  • Sweating
  • Trembling 
  • A feeling of weakness or tiredness 
  • Difficulty concentrating or distracting oneself from the present worry 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal issues 
  • Inability to control worry 
  • Avoiding situations or things that trigger anxious feelings  

It’s important to note that those who suffer from anxiety disorders have little control over these physical sensations or symptoms. While most people will experience some or all of these symptoms briefly in response to stress or fear, someone with an anxiety disorder will experience some or all of these symptoms on a daily basis, with some of them being constant throughout the day. 

Conditions Similar to Anxiety

Anxiety can resemble other mental and behavioral health conditions, or physical conditions, which is why it’s crucial for a medical professional to be able to evaluate patients in order to make an accurate diagnosis. The following conditions can present with symptoms similar to those of anxiety: 

  • Mental health disorders like bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 
  • Medical conditions of the heart, or endocrine and gastrointestinal systems, neurological or inflammatory conditions, or metabolic issues 
  • Side effects of recreational drugs, alcohol, or certain medications 

Anxiety can also cause or worsen symptoms of other mental or physical health conditions, including: 

  • Depression 
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Headaches or other chronic pain 
  • Reduced work and school performance 
  • Poor quality of life 

How is Anxiety Diagnosed? 

The physical symptoms of anxiety should always be evaluated by a medical or mental health professional. Providers may order tests such as lab work, imaging, or perform a physical examination to rule out physiological causes of anxiety. A psychological evaluation will also be performed to discuss the patient’s history, lifestyle, and severity of symptoms. 

How is Anxiety Treated? 

Once an anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, there are several treatment options for patients to discuss with their providers. The two most common forms of treatment are therapy and medications. Most patients find the best relief from a combination of both of these. Talk therapy with a behavioral health professional provides patients with tools and methods to combat their constant or recurring feelings of anxiety or panic. Medications also help to relieve symptoms by helping to balance brain chemistry and hormones that flood individuals suffering from anxiety. Some medications may include: 

  • Antidepressants that have shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders 
  • Anxiolytics such as the drug buspirone 
  • In severe cases of panic or anxiety, some medications with a sedating effect may be prescribed for short-term use 

Patients may also be encouraged to make some lifestyle changes and practice self-care at home. Things that help relieve the symptoms of anxiety: 

  • Staying physically active – establishing a daily routine that incorporates exercise helps reduce stress and serves as a natural mood-booster 
  • Avoiding alcohol or recreational drugs – these often intensify or cause anxiety
  • Quitting smoking – nicotine can worsen anxiety 
  • Cutting back on caffeine – this too can worsen anxiety 
  • Using stress management and relaxation techniques – visualization and breathing techniques can be helpful for anxiety sufferers, as are yoga and meditation 
  • Getting enough sleep – prioritizing good sleep is essential to mental wellbeing 
  • Eating healthy – balanced meals help reduce some of the symptoms that anxiety can cause, such as digestive upset or fatigue, as well as improve overall health 

Help from Xpress Wellness Behavioral Health

At Xpress Wellness Behavioral Health, we’re more than just a brick and mortar office for sudden bumps, bruises, or seasonal illnesses. We have licensed counselors and psychologists that are able to diagnose, treat, and provide continuing care for patients with anxiety disorders. Our providers can prescribe medications and offer behavioral therapy through virtual visits. Schedule a behavioral health consultation to begin a journey of overall wellness that comes from sound health – both mind and body.

Share This Post:
Recent News: