Do you want to take our Anxiety
/ Panic Test?
Other Physical or Mental Disorders with Anxiety Disorder
It is common for an anxiety disorder to accompany another anxiety
disorder, or in some cases depression, eating disorders or substance
abuse. Anxiety disorders can also coexist with physical disorders. In
such instances, these disorders will also need to be treated. Before
undergoing any treatment, it is important to have a thorough medical
exam to rule out other possible causes.
Many people with anxiety disorders can be helped with treatment. Therapy
for anxiety disorders often involves medication or specific forms of
Medications, although not cures, can be very effective at relieving
anxiety symptoms. Today, thanks to research by scientists at NIMH and
other research institutions, there are more medications available than
ever before to treat anxiety disorders. So if one drug is not successful,
there are usually others to try. In addition, new medications to treat
anxiety symptoms are under development.
For most of the medications that are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders,
the doctor usually starts the patient on a low dose and gradually increases
it to the full dose. Every medication has side effects, but they usually
become tolerated or diminish with time. If side effects become a problem,
the doctor may advise the patient to stop taking the medication and
to wait a week, or longer for certain drugs, before trying another one.
When treatment is near an end, the doctor will taper the dosage gradually.
Research has also shown that behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral
therapy can be effective for treating several of the anxiety disorders.
Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses several
techniques to decreases or stop unwanted behavior. For example, one
technique trains patients in diaphragmatic breathing, a special breathing
exercise involving slow, deep breaths to reduce anxiety. This is necessary
because people who are anxious often hyperventilate, taking rapid shallow
breaths that can trigger rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and other
symptoms. Another techniqueexposure therapygradually exposes
patients to what frightens them and helps them cope with their fears.
Like behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients
to react differently to the situations and bodily sensations that trigger
panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms. However, patients also learn
to understand how their thinking patterns contribute to their symptoms
and how to change their thoughts so that symptoms are less likely to
occur. This awareness of thinking patterns is combined with exposure
and other behavioral techniques to help people confront their feared
situations. For example, someone who becomes lightheaded during a panic
attack and fears he is going to die can be helped with the following
approach used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. The therapist asks him
to spin in a circle until he becomes dizzy. When he becomes alarmed
and starts thinking, "I'm going to die," he learns to replace
that thought with a more appropriate one, such as "It's just a
little dizzinessI can handle it."
Go get a referral to a mental health professional in your local area,
or to obtain information on self-help groups and other resources located
near you, click on the tab to the right and contact the national mental
health organizations listed. Each group has developed its own procedures
for referrals and has information on cities throughout the United States.
BACK TO THE LIST