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What is Clinical Anxiety?

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  • Written By: Kathy Heydasch
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Anyone who has ever worried about an upcoming test or fretted over meeting someone new has experienced some form of anxiety. Clinical anxiety, however, refers to a persistent psychological state which manifests itself in a number of physiological symptoms. These include nervousness, worry, trouble sleeping and some forms of cognitive dysfunction, up to and including panic or anxiety attacks.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual. Those without GAD can still experience anxiety, sometimes severe at times, but if the condition is isolated or infrequent, a diagnosis of GAD is rare. One should seek a doctor’s assistance in diagnosing or treating GAD if the condition persistently interferes with the quality of one’s life.

Clinical anxiety can affect men or women, and may begin as early as adolescence or develop in a mature adult. Obvious symptoms are excessive worry or nervousness, but others are common as well. These include sleep disorders, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension and restlessness, among others. In severe cases, a doctor should perform tests to rule out other serious conditions which can mimic the symptoms of GAD.

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Treatment for clinical anxiety varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the condition. There is no specific cure for clinical anxiety, nor is there a specific medical test which can diagnose it accurately. A psychiatrist is generally the type of doctor who would diagnose or treat clinical anxiety, although a psychologist may have extensive training and experience sufficient to do so. Either doctor might recommend changes in lifestyle, psychotherapy and/or anti-anxiety medications. Anti-depressant medications are often prescribed since depression commonly accompanies clinical anxiety.

Homeopathic treatments can involve the analysis of one’s lifestyle in the management of stress or trigger factors, such as relationships, work or school. Some argue that diet and exercise play the biggest factor in the suppression of clinical anxiety. Other methods of correction include relaxation tapes, breathing exercises and meditation. Persons diagnosed with GAD should generally avoid alcohol, junk food, or conditions which are likely to bring about worry or stress.

Clinical anxiety may produce anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, which are episodes of extreme anxiety that one cannot predict or for which there may or may not be a trigger factor. These episodes typically last from 5-15 minutes apiece and may be accompanied by severe shaking. During an anxiety attack, a person might experience a sense of impending doom or death unwarranted by the circumstances and which is incomprehensible to those around them.

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Perdido
Post 11

I remember my first anxiety attack. Luckily, some of my friends had experienced them before I had, so I knew what was happening to me. Had I not, then I would have been certain I was dying.

I was in my college English class. Suddenly, everything felt surreal. I started seeing purple dots, and the teacher's voice became distant. I felt like I was going to faint.

I had to close my eyes and tilt my head down like I was reading. Immediately, I had to pretend I was somewhere else. This helped counteract the feeling that I was being pulled away from reality.

Since that day, I have had multiple panic attacks, but I have found a way to beat them. If you just get mad at the feeling, it will go away.

If you are angry, then you can't be fearful and anxious. Anger is a strong emotion, and it brings out the fight in you.

cloudel
Post 10

I tried therapy and drugs, but the only thing that cured my anxiety was getting my belief system straightened out. Once I became certain of how I viewed God, the world, and the afterlife, my anxiety dropped dramatically.

As a child, I had been taught to be afraid of God. I was always scared that He might strike me for doing wrong. This caused me great anxiety as a teenager and as an adult.

I finally found a church that focused on God's mercy and love, and the people there helped me immensely. This was an environment where fear had no place, and the longer I stayed there, the better I felt. I became sure of Jesus's love for me, and that became my anxiety cure.

feasting
Post 9
@seag47 – I started taking St. John's wort for my panic attacks, and it put a stop to them. This is a natural herb, and I've heard it's good at treating both anxiety and depression.

However, it did have side effects for me. I started to forget little things. My short-term memory seemed to be affected by it.

Also, I started getting out of breath easier. I had to climb stairs to get to work every day, and that became a chore for me.

So, I decided to give it up. However, I don't think that these side effects are universal. You could try it, and it might just work fine for you.

seag47
Post 8

Has anyone here ever tried an herbal remedy for anxiety attacks treatment? I have a fear of becoming reliant on prescription medication, but I wouldn't mind trying some natural remedies.

I have been experiencing anxiety attacks ever since my boyfriend went to prison six months ago for selling drugs. I didn't even know that he was involved in illegal activity, so I had to deal with the shock of this, as well as losing him.

This turned my whole world upside-down. There are times when I have trouble breathing, and I feel like something terrible is about to happen to me. In reality, it already has, but I suppose I always fear something even worse.

John57
Post 7

I believe there is a link between anxiety and depression, and for me, they seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes I don't know which one affects me first, but many times I experience both of them at the same time.

I am on depression medication on a regular basis, and if my panic attacks become too frequent, I will also take some different medication for this. It took me awhile to realize what brought all of this on.

Both of my parents were quite ill at the same time, and I was the main caregiver for them. At the time I didn't realize how much of a toll this was taking on me.

I think that stress can play a big part in both depression and anxiety. If I can deal better with my stress, I have found this also helps with my anxiety and depression.

myharley
Post 6

I know everyone is different when it comes to the reasons for their anxiety attacks. Because of this, the generalized anxiety disorder treatment for some will be different than for others.

I currently take medication to help with my anxiety, and also see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. I think the idea of seeing a psychiatrist was harder for me at first than taking the medication.

Between these two things, I am able to control most of my anxiety attacks. I think if I stopped doing either one of these things, my anxiety attacks would become more frequent and severe.

honeybees
Post 5

@sunshined-- Admitting you have trouble with anxiety can be a hard thing to come to grips with. At first you just think it will go away on its own. I had panic attacks for a long time before I decided to finally get some help for them.

Taking medication was not my first choice of treatment, so I focused on taking better control of other areas of my life. I began to exercise on a regular basis and made changes in my eating habits. I also changed some relationships in my life that were negative and bringing me down.

Since then I have felt more confident in dealing with my emotions and facing situations that would have caused

me a lot of anxiety in the past.

When I get that feeling of being out of control, and my body starts to shake, I know I need to take some deep breaths and change my focus. So far this has worked for me and I have been able to stay off medication.

I think admitting to someone that you need anxiety help can be the first step towards getting some good treatment for it.

sunshined
Post 4

My sister struggles with panic attacks. I don't remember when she first noticed she was having this type of anxiety, but it seems to get worse as she gets older.

Most of her panic attack symptoms come on when she is going to be in a social situation where there are going to be lot of people there, or people she doesn't know.

In order to avoid this, she just stays home most of the time. This seems like a sad and lonely way to live. I have encouraged her to get some help, but I think she is afraid to admit she has a problem.

I think it would do her good just to talk with a physician about this, and work out plan of action to help her deal with her anxiety issues.

turquoise
Post 3

@simrin-- That really is a great explanation, thanks for sharing!

When I have an anxiety attack, I have trouble breathing, as if my throat is being strangled. I also get this feeling of too much blood rushing in my arms. I had no idea that that's because of adrenaline! It makes complete sense now!

After that "blood-rush" feeling, I get the shakes and feel like I'm going to faint. Then I hyperventilate and my limbs become numb. Once I hyperventilated so much that my face become numb. It's all so scary.

SteamLouis
Post 2

@MikeMason-- What you describe is GAD, I have it too. I have anxiety all the time, for no apparent reason. I asked my doctor about this and he said that feelings of anxiety is a normal part of the human psyche. It helps warn and protect us from danger and allows our body to respond appropriately. But in someone who have GAD, the mechanism doesn't work correctly and the person feels anxiety even when they shouldn't.

He gave me the example of a tiger chasing a man. When a man knows that a tiger is about to come after him, he will feel anxiety which triggers a rush of adrenaline in his body. This sends blood flow to the

arms and legs to help the man run and protect himself from danger. This is normal. But if the same exact thing happens to someone who's simply sitting at home or at their desk in their office, that's not normal. It's an anxiety disorder needing treatment.

What do you think about this example? It explains clinical anxiety nicely doesn't it? I never understood it completely before I heard this explanation.

stoneMason
Post 1

I have a generalized anxiety disorder. The symptoms started in adolescence but I wasn't diagnosed until my mid twenties. It was actually misdiagnosed as depression for many years and I was given anti-depressants. But I didn't benefit from the antidepressants, it didn't help with my anxiety symptoms at all. I then went to a different doctor who diagnosed me with GAD and prescribed anti-anxiety medication.

I've been taking anti-anxiety medications for several years now and they have been keeping my symptoms under control really well. Once in a while, I still experience anxiety but nothing comparable to how it was before the medications.

I went to counseling for some time as well, but I didn't benefit from it

too much either. My stress and anxiety is often triggered by day-to-day worries and fears. But sometimes I feel that it is not related to a particular incident. I guess that's what differentiates it from normal anxiety that everyone feels from time to time.

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