Anxiety

Reach Out for Anxiety Support and Treatment

Anxiety can affect us in any number of ways, but when anxiety becomes more intense, severe and frequent, you may be impacted by an anxiety disorder. There are ways to deal with anxiety disorders, so it does not negatively affect your life at school, work or home.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.

Causes

GAD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.

Signs & Symptoms

People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.

GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times and often are worse during times of stress.

When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don’t avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, people with GAD can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.

Diagnosis

GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least six months.

People with GAD may visit a doctor many times before they find out they have this disorder. They ask their doctors to help them with headaches or trouble falling asleep, which can be symptoms of GAD but they don’t always get the help they need right away. It may take doctors some time to be sure that a person has GAD instead of something else.

First, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam to make sure that another physical problem isn’t causing the symptoms. You may be referred to a mental health specialist.

Treatments

GAD is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.

Psychotherapy: A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating GAD. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and worried.

Medication: Doctors also may prescribe medication to help treat GAD. Two types of medications are commonly used to treat GAD—anti­anxiety medications and antidepressants. Anti­anxiety medications are powerful and there are different types. Many types begin working right away, but they generally should not be taken for long periods.

Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful for GAD. They may take several weeks to start working. These medications may cause side effects such as a headache, nausea, or difficulty sleeping.

These side effects are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have.

It’s important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may be risky for some, especially children, teens, and young adults. A “black box”—the most serious type of warning that a prescription drug can have—has been added to the labels of antidepressant medications. These labels warn people that antidepressants may cause some people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially when they first start treatment with medications.

Some people do better with cognitive behavior therapy, while others do better with medication. Still, others do best with a combination of the two. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.

Living With

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first person you should see is your family doctor. A physician can determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.

If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is usually seeing a mental health professional. The practitioners who are most helpful with anxiety disorders are those who have training in cognitive ­behavioral therapy and/or behavioral therapy, and who are open to using medication if it is needed.

You should feel comfortable talking with the mental health professional you choose. If you do not, you should seek help elsewhere. Once you find a mental health professional with whom you are comfortable, the two of you should work as a team and make a plan to treat your anxiety disorder together.

Remember that once you start on medication, it is important not to stop taking it abruptly. Certain drugs must be tapered off under the supervision of a doctor or bad reactions can occur. Make sure you talk to the doctor who prescribed your medication before you stop taking it. If you are having trouble with side effects, it’s possible that they can be eliminated by adjusting how much medication you take and when you take it.

Most insurance plans, including health maintenance organizations (HMOs), will cover treatment for anxiety disorders. Check with your insurance company and find out. If you don’t have insurance, the Health and Human Services division of your county government may offer mental health care at a public mental health center that charges people according to how much they are able to pay. If you are on public assistance, you may be able to get care through your state Medicaid plan.

Our Anxiety Support Groups

Each of our support groups is led by a mental health professional, but the real power of our groups is getting the chance to interact with other people impacted by mental illness or similar situations. The group members have been there, and they can offer you advice that may open doors that you thought to be long shut and locked.

Tulsa

During our Anxiety Support Group meetings in Tulsa, we welcome you to discuss the sometimes overwhelming thoughts and fears that are a part of anxiety disorders and share and develop coping skills.

The Anxiety Support Group meets in Tulsa on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm at 1870 South Boulder Avenue, across the street from Veterans Park. You may park behind the building and enter through the back door. For more information, call 918.­585­.1213 or email info@mhaok.org.

Oklahoma City

Our free Anxiety Support Group meetings are on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:15 pm at our main office in Oklahoma City, located at 400 North Walker Avenue, Suite 190.

Also in Oklahoma City, each Thursday at 4 pm at our peer-run drop-in center in Oklahoma City, Lottie House, we offer an Anxiety Support Group. Lottie House is located at 1311 North Lottie Avenue.

For more information, call 405.943.3700 or email info@mhaok.org.

Call Us For Help!

Seeking anxiety management programs, counseling, support groups, and other services require navigating a complex network of community resources. We can help!

Our free Community Referral Line provides you with one­-on­-one service to help find the best referral for anxiety management options for you or a family member.

We’re here to work with you to help navigate through the mental health system!

Call our free Community Referral Line at 918.585.1213 or 405.943.3700.

We are available Monday- Friday, 8:30 am-­5 pm. You can also email us at info@mhaok.org.

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