The Anxiety Epidemic: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions
Are you anxious reading this? Millions of people throughout the world suffer from some form of anxiety or another. In the US alone, more than 40 million people experience either a social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, some type of phobia which causes them anxiety, or a generalized anxiety disorder.
These various types of anxiety cost more than $42 billion annually in medical costs. A slew of medications are prescribed to help individuals cope with various forms of anxiety, and people with anxiety are more than 5 times likely to visit their primary health care physician than those who do not, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural response to stress. In fact, if our nervous system’s did not alert us to potentially dangerous situations, by quickening our heart rates, dumping hormones like adrenaline into our blood system, and increasing our respiratory rates, we wouldn’t be able to respond to a true threat.
The problem is that many people are responding to stress, either perceived or real, with their nervous systems in ‘high alert.’ So whether they are coping with an impending exam at school, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or work pressures, their bodies are constantly in an anxious state trying to deal with external stresses.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
The physical symptoms of anxiety can include:
- A pounding heart
- Trouble breathing
- Being easily startled
- Suffering from unwanted, obsessive thoughts, and even unwanted behaviors.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety can take on many forms. Here are some of the more common types of anxiety:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Phobias (from spiders to small spaces)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (this affects veterans of war, but also those who suffer any form of trauma)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (this is the name a psychiatrist or psychologist will give to someone who feels anxiety for no specific reason)
- Panic Disorder
Medications Prescribed for Different Types of Anxiety
There are numerous pharmaceutical drugs that are prescribed for anxiety, including Benzodiazepines, which is the most common class of anti-anxiety drugs. These drugs should be avoided if at all possible. They include:
Many of these drugs cause some debilitating side effects which can mean trading one set of unwanted symptoms for another. They include:
- Drowsiness, lack of energy
- Blurred or Double Vision
- Memory Loss
- Lowered Cognitive Function
- Slurred Speech
- Slow Reflexes
- Aggressive or Impulsive Behavior
Aside from drugs there are numerous other methods of successfully treating anxiety, including deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and even spending time in nature. Ayurveda in particular has been shown to outperform a popular anxiety drug, Clonazepam.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.
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