Tuesday, 1 May 2012

When should one get treatment for anxiety?

By Luisa Dillner/London

It’s normal to feel anxious – and these days there is plenty to worry about.
Being scared sets off an automatic response in our bodies. We are flooded with adrenaline and other stress hormones, which increase our heart rate and prepare us to either run for the hills or stand our ground and fight.
But if you feel anxious most of the time, or are overwhelmed and have panic attacks in certain situations (such as getting on a plane or going into a crowded room), then you may need help.

The Problem
Anxiety symptoms include helplessness, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling and feeling hot. A panic attack is an acute disorder where these symptoms are amplified: hyperventilating causes tingling around the mouth, while a fast heartbeat feels like chest pain.
People often seek medical advice when anxiety interferes with their life or impinges on other people. It is usually the unpleasant physical symptoms of anxiety that make people get help. So how can you know if your anxiety levels are healthy, or if you should see a doctor?

The Solution
Anxiety is part of the human condition and treatment is only needed if you can’t cope with it yourself by talking to friends and reducing factors that will make symptoms worse.
There are many disorders that anxiety is a part of, such as agoraphobia (the fear of going out), specific phobias (eg of heights) and obsessive compulsive disorders, where symptoms have lasted for six months. Going to your doctor if you have strong anxiety symptoms may reveal an underlying mental or physical health condition (anxiety can accompany asthma, diabetes and heart disease), which is a good reason to speak to someone. Keep a diary of when you get symptoms to help identify what brings them on.
Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice)’s guidelines on anxiety recommend that you don’t take benzodiazepines(minor tranquillisers that calm you but are addictive), and instead suggests psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which equip you to rethink situations in order to deal with them.
Psychological therapy for panic attacks involves explaining what physically happens. For example, overbreathing means a drop in carbon dioxide and a metabolic shift in the body. This causes tingling, so if you breathe into a paper bag it reverses the shift and stops the symptoms.
Relaxation programmes teach people how to breathe and relax their muscles when anxious.
Medication may be suggested if you have symptoms of depression and beta blockers are used to stop your heart pounding. But behavioural therapies are by far the best place to start.- Guardian News and Media

1 comment:

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    Leigh Turgeon
    email: leighturgeon@gmail.com
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    The Blue Veil Blog http://behindtheblueveil.blogspot.ca/
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