Anxiety is a natural emotion that can even be beneficial at times, but if you have an anxiety disorder, your life is taken over by intense and unrelenting fears and worries that affect your ability to lead a normal life. Barry J. Richman, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of mental health problems at his clinic in Manhattan, New York, and has considerable experience in helping patients who are struggling to cope with anxiety disorders. Call Barry J. Richman MD Psychiatry today to arrange a consultation, or book an appointment online.
What is anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety, as it’s a basic human emotion. In simple terms, anxiety is the feeling of fear or worry and can be a normal and appropriate response to a particular stimulus or stressor.
In many situations, anxiety is quite adaptive. It’s the force that gives someone the drive to compete, win at something, practice or study extra hard, or be meticulous with regard to being on time or doing a good job. However, when anxiety becomes excessive and causes constant and distressing symptoms that interfere with an individual’s daily functioning, it reaches a level classified as an anxiety disorder.
What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?
According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), several symptoms of anxiety must be present for a specific duration of time in order to meet the criteria for the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. These may include but are not limited to:
- Feelings of fear and uneasiness
- Panic attacks
- Uncontrollable, intrusive, obsessive thinking
- Ritualized behaviors
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feelings of loss of control
- Ruminations or repeated thoughts of a traumatic episode (flashbacks)
Patients often experience physical symptoms of anxiety as well, such as palpitations, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, gastric upset, numbness or tingling in the extremities, and lightheadedness.
Are there different types of anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders come in a variety of different forms and present in a variety of different ways. Some of the more common subtypes include:
- Panic disorder
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Looking at a patient’s medical history and assessing their current state of mind is very important in differentiating the subtype of anxiety disorder. Making an accurate diagnosis is essential since this will have important implications for any treatment decisions.
Correct diagnosis leads to the proper choice of a variety of different treatment options, which include the types of psychotherapy and psychopharmacologic interventions, both essential to restoring good mental health. For example, an individualized patient care plan for someone with an anxiety disorder may comprise a course of anti-anxiety medication with regular therapy sessions.
If your overwhelming feelings of anxiety are interfering with your ability to lead a happy, fulfilled life, call Barry J. Richman MD Psychiatry today, or book an appointment using the online tool.