Anxiety disorder

Increased Anxiety, Depression Mark COVID-19 Blues, But There’s Help

Henry*, a CPA tasked with auditing several large corporations in the area, is performing his job from home as a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak. Whenever Henry leaves his house, he faithfully follows the recommended safety guidelines. He always wears a mask in public, washes his hands often and stands at least six feet away from others.

Still, Henry fretted terribly about becoming ill from the coronavirus, enough that it affected his day-to-day activities.

“It was constantly on my mind, and I worried night and day about getting infected,” says Henry, 53. “And everything that I heard on the news about the COVID-19 pandemic just made my anxiety worse.

“At times, I was extremely nervous and uptight and unable to sit still. At other times, I felt weak and tired and had to lie down. I often had difficulty concentrating on my accounting work because I was so worried about the virus and the pandemic. And I was having more frequent panic attacks.

“Whenever I have a panic attack, my heart races uncontrollably and my breathing gets very fast and heavy. It feels like I’m having a heart attack, and I’m completely immobilized. The pandemic really turned my life upside down.”
Henry’s anxiety continued to intensify, so he visited his primary care provider, who referred him to Edward Zawadzki, DO. Dr. Zawadzki is a board-certified forensic and adult psychiatrist at Lighthouse Health Group, a full-service psychiatric practice in Jupiter that offers traditional and leading-edge treatments for mental health disorders.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric problem in the United States,” Dr. Zawadzki observes. “More than 40 million people in this country suffer from some type of anxiety spectrum disorder. The spectrum includes generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

“Currently in our practice, we are seeing a significant upturn in the number of patients such as Henry whose anxieties have spiked during this pandemic. Most are experiencing increased frequency of panic attacks or depression symptoms. We refer to this phenomenon as the COVID-19 blues.”

The cause of the COVID-19 blues mirrors that of anxiety disorders in general: people feel that they cannot control events or their environment. With the extra requirements placed on individuals during the pandemic – staying home, wearing masks, social distancing, home-schooling children – people feel even less control.

“This feeling of being extraordinarily out of control of their lives results in a surge in patients’ anxiety or depression symptoms,” Dr. Zawadzki reports. “That is the essence of the COVID-19 blues.

“In these cases, patients with anxiety issues may feel heightened nervousness, sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, irritability and panic attacks. Patients with a depressive disorder may feel more hopeless, perhaps even suicidal. They may feel helpless to do anything positive and have more crying spells.”

The heightened symptoms occur due to a concept known as psychosocial stress, Dr. Zawadzki informs. When someone goes through a period of psychosocial stress, the body reacts by increasing negative feelings and behaviors.

“Traditionally, psychosocial stressors are events such as job changes, moves and relationship changes – a breakup for example,” the doctor describes. “Sometimes, a stressor is a good thing such as getting married. Although marriage is positive, it causes stress and results in a temporary worsening of symptoms. The COVID-19 pandemic is a negative source of psychosocial stress.”

Pandemic Psychiatry

Dr. Zawadzki urges people who are experiencing an exacerbation of anxiety or depression as well as those facing a new onset of symptoms to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. There are treatments that can effectively manage the effects of the COVID-19 blues, he assures.

“People who are experiencing this phenomenon are not alone,” Dr. Zawadzki asserts. “We are all living in a very unstable, tumultuous world that is affecting our mental health. But the psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists at Lighthouse Health Group are well-versed in pandemic psychiatry.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric problem in the United States. More than 40 million people in this country suffer from some type of anxiety spectrum disorder.” – Dr. Zawadzki

“Pandemic psychiatry takes into account the psychosocial stress associated with COVID-19,” Dr. Zawadzki describes. “When we initially evaluate a patient, we establish their baseline symptoms, what they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff is trained in speaking with patients and uncovering other problems that are affecting them. Most people have stressors beyond the pandemic.”

Patients may have anxiety related to recent protests or possibility of violence. Their symptoms may worsen after watching looting, burning buildings or shootings on television. Some already have relationship problems or challenges with their children. All of these concerns must be unpacked and processed by the mental health provider.

“Once the extent of the symptoms and stressors are identified, we can examine the most appropriate treatment options,” Dr. Zawadzki acknowledges. “Those typically include psychotherapy with or without the benefit of medication.”

Silver Lining

“After I spoke with Dr. Zawadzki at length, he recommended that I meet with one of the psychologists on staff at Lighthouse Health Group,” Henry relates. “The doctor also prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to take for a few months. He said it should help with the panic attacks, so I agreed to take it.”

People who are working from home due to COVID-19 may experience their own version of the COVID-19 blues.

“For many people, working from home causes anxiety because going to the workplace was their only social outlet,” Dr. Zawadzki explains. “Going to work may be their only opportunity during the week to get out of the house or get away from an abusive relationship.

“In some cases, people who work outside the home have colleagues that they are close to with whom they can chit-chat over lunch or during breaks, happy hours or other social events after work. When this is taken away, it can be a huge emotional shift for the individual.”

When people are suddenly forced to work from home, they can begin to feel and act like drones, mindlessly doing their duties with no social interaction. Often, they don’t leave home and have little to do other than work. Depending on coping skills and any underlying mental health issues, this situation can be an enormous psychological struggle for them.

“But there is a silver lining in terms of working from home,” Dr. Zawadzki stresses. “Many people are more comfortable working in their home environment, and there are studies that show that people are actually more productive at home than they are in a work space.

“In any circumstance, people who are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 blues are not alone. If they are being more reclusive, feeling hopeless about the pandemic, are more tearful or having worsening anxiety, they should be promptly evaluated at a practice skilled in pandemic psychiatry. The COVID-19 blues can be more difficult to treat later.”

Henry reports that the psychotherapy and medication are helping him manage his anxiety symptoms.

“I don’t worry as much and can concentrate on my work,” he says. “I’ve only had a couple of panic attacks, and they’ve been very mild. The treatment is definitely working for me. I’m glad I went to Lighthouse Health Group.”

Woman. Panic attack

Symptoms and Treatment for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks usually start with anxiety. Not everyone who has anxiety experiences panic attacks, and some people have only one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes and never experience another. The symptoms of a panic attack can often mimic symptoms of other health crises, such as a heart attack or another serious illness. Someone who has recurring panic attacks and is constantly in the state of fear of the next one will likely be diagnosed with panic disorder. If you’ve been diagnosed with panic disorder, take comfort in the fact that treatment can help greatly. Let’s go over some of the symptoms of a panic attack.

Woman. Panic attack
















While the symptoms of a panic attack can vary greatly from person to person, there is a list of common experiences that have been reported. If you experience at least four of these, chances are good you’re experiencing a panic attack.

Fear—fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
Rapid heartbeat, pounding heart, or palpitations
Chest pain or tightness
Shortness of breath/tight feeling in throat/feeling smothered or choked
Chills or hot flashes
Dizziness, light-headedness
Nausea or abdominal pain, cramping
Numbness or tingling (paresthesia)
Feelings of unreality or detachment (derealization, depersonalization)
Sense of impending doom

Occasionally, a person will experience a panic attack that feels full-blown but may have fewer than four symptoms. This is usually called a limited-symptom panic attack and can still be traumatic for the sufferer. Unfortunately, the worst thing about any kind of panic attack is that it usually brings on more fear—fear that another attack will occur. A panic attack can happen at any time, regardless of how stressed or calm a person may feel. If you find that you are experiencing panic attacks with four or more symptoms and it’s happening more frequently than before, you will want to seek help. While the attacks are unpleasant and scary, they are not dangerous; however, panic disorder is something that is difficult to manage on your own, and a professional can help you overcome it much more quickly.

If you experience a panic attack for the first time, it’s best to visit a doctor to rule out any other health conditions. Chances are, if you’ve never experienced a panic attack, you will probably visit the ER or a doctor regardless, thinking that you may have a more serious condition. The helpful thing about determining whether your symptoms indicate a panic attack is that they usually reach their peak intensity within about 10 minutes (or less) and then gradually subside. While this doesn’t reduce the symptoms’ intensity, at least you will be more prepared to recognize the signs if it happens again.

Diagnosis of Panic Attack













Treatment for panic attacks can be very successful. The first step, of course, is determining that what you are experiencing is indeed a panic attack. A proper diagnosis is key to understanding and moving forward. By nature, some people make lifestyle changes in order to avoid further attacks—for example, avoiding places that may trigger attacks or starting an exercise routine to regulate heart rate and boost endorphins. While there is no way to prevent a panic attack, prompt treatment can help reduce future attacks and preferably get rid of them altogether. Without treatment, panic attacks or panic disorder can eventually lead to phobias or other issues that can disrupt your everyday life.

Several medications are generally prescribed for panic disorder, including antidepressants and benzodiazepines. These, along with other forms of treatment, are effective in helping to manage symptoms. Psychotherapy is also highly beneficial helping you to understand panic attacks and learn how to cope with them on an everyday level. The therapist trains you through cognitive behavioral therapy, gradually creating a situation that mimics the symptoms of a panic attack in order to retrain your brain and teach it to dispel the fear. When the fear and panic feelings are no longer threatening, you will be able to avoid a panic attack in the future and the disorder will resolve itself. As a result, you will also begin to overcome situational fears and be able to return to places you may have been avoiding in order to prevent an attack.

Self-care and maintenance for panic disorder include several things that you can manage on your own in addition to your treatment. In addition to regular exercise, making sure to get enough sleep and avoiding caffeine and alcohol will help ward off panic attacks. Smoking and drugs—even just the occasional recreational use—can also trigger panic attacks, so avoiding those at all costs is best. Support groups are also beneficial, as you can meet with others who have similar experiences. Also, as with other disorders such as PTSD and anxiety, relaxation and stress management are important to reducing panic attacks. Activities such as yoga and deep breathing can improve the frequency and severity of panic attacks; muscle relaxation and massage can be beneficial as well. In short, any activity that is calming and relieves stress will help deter the panic attacks from resurfacing.


Treatment and improvement of panic disorder may take a while; there is no quick fix, but the results will be worth the effort. Your symptoms will gradually decrease over several weeks, and you will see a significant decrease—maybe even eradicating panic attacks altogether—in a few months’ time. Regardless of the time it takes, be patient, stick with your treatment, and do your best to stay calm. Consistent results require consistent effort, and in the end, you will emerge healthier, happier, and feeling fearless.

Learning the Types of Anxiety Disorders

When the word “anxiety” is thrown around these days, it is used in many different contexts. It is often used nonchalantly in situations such as test-taking or clothes shopping. That kind of anxiety comes and goes from one day to the next. But when a person is diagnosed with anxiety disorder, he or she knows what it’s like to suffer from true anxiety or phobias that can interfere with one’s life or potentially become debilitating.

Anxiety Disorders

And while the majority of people experience some form of anxiety at least once in their lives, it becomes a problem when it begins to disrupt a person’s everyday life. While the term “anxiety” does cover a broad spectrum of issues, there are even more that fall under the umbrella than one would think. However, most professionals agree that there are essentially five to seven main types of the disorder. If you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it may help you to figure out which type yours is or the category it falls under, so you can seek the appropriate treatment.

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is the most common and most broad form of anxiety disorder. Those who suffer from GAD have constant worry, fear, and tension; it affects every aspect of their daily lives. GAD also usually cannot be pinpointed to a particular cause or event; GAD sufferers experience anxiety in an ongoing, persistent manner. And while GAD is the most common, general form, it tends to be common in those who experience other anxiety disorders as well. GAD is often characterized by muscle tension, restlessness, trouble focusing, and obsessive thoughts.

  1. Panic Attack Disorder

Panic Attack Disorder is dramatically different from GAD. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear that only exists in the person’s mind and is not grounded in reality, such as a sense of impending doom or death. Panic attacks often are also accompanied by physical symptoms that make the sufferer feel like they’re having a heart attack or another serious medical emergency. After a person experiences a panic attack, they can develop a secondary disorder, which may include fear of a panic attack—so it’s important to recognize the disorder and stop it before it continues to worsen.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder stemming from a situation or event where the sufferer’s life was in danger or may have been in danger. PTSD is a common disorder among soldiers after returning home from war, where they experienced a lot of death and injury, and their lives were potentially in danger at all times. It can also occur after a personal attack or the death of a loved one. Sufferers usually have at least one trigger that activates the PTSD, causing them to go into fight-or-flight mode and relive the traumatic experiences. They also often experience nightmares and have flashbacks during the day, keeping them on alert and stressed. Those with PTSD should seek professional help as soon as possible to avoid a more intense form of the disorder.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder causes a person to have persistent and recurring thoughts and impulses that may lead to actions. While obsessions and compulsions are similar, they manifest themselves differently in that obsessions are thought-based while compulsions are behavioral. A person may obsess over a specific thought and not be able to move on from it, and with compulsions, sufferers often feel the need to repeat certain behaviors and cannot stop themselves. Many times, the thoughts and behaviors are connected; the thought becomes an obsession, and thus, the person repeats an action to avoid or cause something related to the obsession. Sometimes, the sufferer finds an action that seems to decrease their anxiety a bit, so they will repeat the action endlessly in an attempt to continue reducing the anxiety. Unfortunately, repetitive behaviors only further the disorder, leading to another vicious cycle, so professional help is necessary to improve this condition.

  1. Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is the fear of going out in public, sometimes the fear of being in unknown places or large, open spaces. Some people with agoraphobia can never leave their homes, and some can go a few places that they feel comfortable with but nowhere else. Often they feel an intense fear that prevents them from going somewhere new. Agoraphobia sufferers usually—but not always—experience panic attacks and are diagnosed with panic disorder. This makes sense because the sufferer may have a panic attack in a public place and therefore want to avoid that place (or all public places) to avoid the panic attacks. Eventually, the person will be afraid to go anywhere and afraid to be in a place where they are not in control, so they stay home where they feel safe and comfortable.

  1. Social Phobia

Social phobia and agoraphobia can be somewhat connected, as someone who doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the house may also have a fear of social situations, which is the main component of social phobia. Social phobia is not to be confused with a normal amount of shyness or nervousness while speaking in public, for example. Fears of social situations turn into phobias when they cause a person to routinely avoid social or public situations for fear of being observed or judged or for fear that they will embarrass themselves in front of people. Social Phobia sufferers see social situations as potentially painful situations for them, as they may feel overwhelmed and anxious around others. They may also feel anxiety when thinking of social situations, not just when in the midst of them. As a consequence, social phobia can develop into agoraphobia for someone who wants to avoid the public altogether.

  1. Specific Phobias

A specific phobia is a fear of something like a specific object or scenario. Arachnophobia is a common example of a phobia, and it is somewhat irrational in that most spiders don’t even hurt people, yet sufferers are deathly afraid of them. Some examples of other phobias are fear of blood, snakes or other animals, thunderstorms, etc. The fear usually is far worse than the actual danger itself, but the phobias can disrupt a person’s daily life regardless. Fear can be determined to be a phobia when the sufferer is gripped with terror despite knowing that the fear is irrational—and the person goes to great lengths to avoid the object or situation. Like social phobia, specific phobias can cause stress or anxiety with the mere thought of the object, not simply exposure to it.

Anxiety Due to a Medical Condition

Anxiety Due to a Medical Condition

One more category of anxiety is the type of anxiety brought on by a medical condition. Sometimes an illness or disease like a heart condition can cause a person to develop anxiety. Perhaps the condition causes the person to be afraid of going out in public due to the illness, or perhaps they have an increased fear of death due to the condition. It is also a possibility that it causes the sufferer to be unable to accept the condition as reality, thus triggering anxiety and maybe even depression as a result. This type of anxiety may go away if the condition is improved, or it may remain long-term, especially if it is untreated.

Short-term and Long-term Anxiety Disorders

Short-term and Long-term Anxiety Disorders

While the majority of disorders mentioned above are considered long-term disorders, there are some that are categorized as short-term. Anxiety that develops in response to a trauma or life-changing event is usually short-term. One such short-term disorder is acute stress disorder, which follows a traumatic event. The anxiety may be intense, but the symptoms often dissipate rather quickly when the person returns to normal. Anxiety following an event such as a marriage, divorce, or move is usually considered a short-term adjustment disorder. In the case of anxiety with substance abuse, it may be triggered when a person quits the substance or after the withdrawal symptoms have passed, but this will be short-term as well.

Since anxiety disorders can take on so many forms, it is best to assess your situation and see which one best fits you if you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety. Regardless of your disorder, it is always best to seek professional help to assist you in dealing with and working toward overcoming your anxiety.

Understanding Your Anxiety

Understanding Your Anxiety

Anxiety can be debilitating, and it can manifest itself in many ways. Without a doubt, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults—approximately 18 percent of the population. With that high a percentage affected, the general population can benefit from education on anxiety. Whether you have it yourself or know someone who does, it can make life easier if you understand the different aspects of anxiety and how to deal with it.

Someone with anxiety would likely say that one can’t fully understand it without experiencing it. Indeed, most things are more easily understood with experience. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no resources out there to help understand what anxiety is, where it comes from, and how to deal with it. These resources can be helpful for both sides. The first step to understanding anxiety is knowing the different types of anxiety and how they differ.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

While the full list of anxiety disorders and types is pretty long, there are a few main categories that most types fall into. Knowing the various types and determining which one you may can help you to know how to deal with it. Make a list of common symptoms you have experienced and talk to a mental health professional to help you create a treatment plan. Keep in mind that no matter the symptoms or type of anxiety you may have, there are others who have experienced the same thing and professionals who are trained to work through it with you.

While most anxiety types fall under one of these broad categories, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – the most common anxiety disorder, anxiety without one specific, localized cause
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – anxiety after a traumatic event
  • Panic Attack Disorder – experiencing panic attacks with physical symptoms
  • Social Phobia – fear or anxiousness in social situations
  • Agoraphobia – fear of going out in public or unfamiliar places
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – obsessing and repeating thoughts and actions
  • Specific Phobias – fear of a certain situation, event, or object
  • Anxiety due to illness or medical condition

Most of these types of anxiety disorders are considered long-term disorders, and some can start as early as childhood and last for many years—especially if left untreated. Other types of anxiety can be brought on by traumas, life-changing events, or terminating substance use, and those are considered short-term disorders. Generally, the short-term disorders can be traced back to a specific trigger and will likely be resolved once the issue is fixed or the stressor is removed.

A Guide to Anxiety Symptoms

Just as anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next even with the same diagnosis, because each person’s chemical makeup is different. Anxiety symptoms often mimic symptoms of other health conditions, but if you’ve been to your doctor and certain conditions have been ruled out, the diagnosis is most likely anxiety. The body responds to stress in different ways, and it is natural for the body to experience anxiety with any number of symptoms when under stress. So, simply put—anxiety itself is a symptom of underlying stress in a person’s life.

A Guide to Anxiety Symptoms

One can experience symptoms of anxiety in several ways; it does not just present itself mentally. One can experience behavioral issues and physical issues as well.

Some of the mental issues include:

  • Thinking that you’re going crazy
  • Fear, tension, and feeling nervous
  • Feeling unable to control worry or fear
  • Wanting to avoid certain situations that trigger anxiety
  • Feeling a sense of impending doom
  • Feeling trapped
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feeling spaced out

Physical symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating when it’s not hot/feeling overly hot or cold
  • Shaking, trembling, or muscle twitches
  • Insomnia
  • GI or digestive problems, nausea
  • Feeling weak and lethargic
  • Chest pains and/or palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath or choking sensation
  • Fear of dying, fear of losing control
  • Feeling detached from oneself and/or reality
  • Numbness and/or tingling sensations
  • Headaches
  • Feeling an electric shock or jolt feeling in the head or body
  • Brain fog and disorientation

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Nightmares
  • Restlessness
  • Avoidance of situations that trigger fear/anxiousness
  • Self-medicating or self-destructive behaviors

The fact is that everyone will experience anxiety at some point in their lives; it’s normal for it to happen to some degree. However, anxiety becomes a disorder when it interrupts your normal, daily living and prevents you from doing regular activities. It’s also a problem when the fears are irrational and not based on reality or any events—they just present “out of nowhere”—and if they don’t go away. Often anxiety and its symptoms are due to a traumatic event or situation and will resolve themselves on their own over time if the situation is resolved. The stress response a person’s body produces is also called the fight-or-flight response, and when that response occurs repeatedly, the body reacts with any number of the above symptoms in order to deal with it.

Anxiety Treatment

Sometimes and for some people, anxiety can go away on its own when the body is healed. Stress causes anxiety and anxiety causes stress, so at some point, it just becomes a vicious cycle if the problem is not fixed or does not improve. The good news is that anxiety knowledge has increased in recent years, and thus, some treatment options are available.

Anxiety Treatment

  • Talking to a counselor or psychotherapist is a common solution. A trained professional who has studied anxiety and knows how to listen and help can walk you through steps to recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one form of psychotherapy used for anxiety, in which your psychotherapist teaches you to change your thinking and behavior patterns and learn how to cope with the symptoms. It won’t eradicate anxiety overnight, but it will help you to gradually learn what triggers it and how to manage it.
  • Medication is another option. There are a variety of medications out there, and your doctor or therapist can work with you to find the best one for you and your symptoms. Anxiety disorders are usually treated with either antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
  • Several alternative therapies can also help you overcome anxiety, such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage, mindfulness, etc. Relaxation and breathing techniques are beneficial as a natural way to calm down and refocus without medication and are a helpful way to manage day-to-day stress.
  • Coping strategies help to manage and minimize anxiety as well. Gradual but effective, coping strategies tend to cause a person to be more purposeful about doing things that reduce anxiety and avoiding things that cause it. Choices such as limiting caffeine and alcohol, exercising, and practicing healthy eating habits are some such strategies. An overall balance in the physical body will help the mental state as well.

Oftentimes a combination of the anxiety treatment options will be what works best; keep in mind that a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. Also, keep in mind that no treatment is an instant fix. With time, patience, and perseverance, you will start to notice yourself feeling better and having a better outlook.


With the high percentage of the population experiencing anxiety and the number continues to rise in today’s fast-paced, driven world, it is important to understand what anxiety is, what it can feel like, and what can be done about it. Knowing the basics can help you or someone you love who suffers from anxiety—now or in the future. Knowledge is the key to prevention, management, treatment, and moving on from anxiety to live a happier, healthier life.

Treatment Steps and Options for Anxiety Disorders

If you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, it can be disconcerting and feel somewhat hopeless. Stress causes anxiety, and anxiety makes you stress—and the symptoms of anxiety cause to worry, which starts the whole cycle all over again. It’s like a snowball, building up and feeding off of itself, growing bigger by the day. If you don’t nip it in the bud, anxiety can grow to be such a big problem that it causes other issues and becomes debilitating.

But the good news is, there is hope. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the United States today, affecting as many as 1 in 4 adults. With that high a number of the population affected, anxiety as a disorder simply cannot be ignored. The studies of the disorder and the options for treatment are increasing at a steady rate.



Anxiety is treated with a few different medications depending on the type of anxiety disorder diagnosed. Usually, several of the mental and physical symptoms can be controlled or reduced by using an antidepressant, a beta-blocker, a tricyclic, or a benzodiazepine. While antidepressants were designed to specifically treat depression, they still help with the symptoms and have fewer side effects than older antidepressants. Antihistamines and beta-blockers can treat mild cases of anxiety and are usually only taken as needed, while antidepressants and tricyclics must be taken daily as directed by your healthcare provider.

Medication is often prescribed in combination with other therapies, especially counseling and psychotherapy, and the combination can be beneficial for most types of anxiety disorders.



There are a few different types of therapy available for anxiety—not just regular counseling sessions. It’s probably best to find a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders, and together you can find which type of therapy would work best for you.

  • Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be administered with or without medication and is often highly successful at relieving or eliminating the symptoms of anxiety. Psychotherapy involves talking with a professional who is experienced with anxiety to explore the possible causes and ways to manage and cope with the disorder. Sometimes group therapy may be prescribed as well.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specialized type of psychotherapy that contains two main elements. The first part focuses on the brain, working toward changing anxiety-related thoughts. The second part targets the person’s reactions, training the person to respond differently to situations, objects, or events that trigger anxiety. CBT encourages anxiety sufferers to face their fears and train their brains to become desensitized to them, thus eliminating the anxiety-inducing scenarios.

  • Biofeedback

Biofeedback involves a series of therapy sessions in which a person watches his or her brain wave patterns with an electroencephalograph to determine what it feels like during anxiety-causing situations. The person then is gradually taught to control their anxiety while watching the brain wave patterns so that they can eventually learn to relax on cue—on their own, without the help of the therapist or the tools. This mode of therapy can work in as few as 12 sessions and has been highly successful thus far. 


Taking care of yourself while treating anxiety is one of the most important things you can do. When you’re alone with your thoughts, you are responsible for how they affect you. Practice trying to replace negative thoughts with positive ones—and at the very least, recognize that it’s the anxiety speaking in your head and not the real you. Once you acknowledge that, it’s easier to let certain thoughts go. Besides that, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Practice deep breathing, yoga, relaxing visualizations, or meditation techniques.
  • Exercise—any kind. Do what makes you happy.
  • Take a relaxing bath, and try adding lavender essential oil or salts.
  • Envision yourself fighting a fear and winning. This helps to make it happen.
  • Talk with a supportive friend or family member. You probably know someone who has been through what you’re going through.
  • Minimize stress in your daily schedule by making a plan and setting deadlines so that you have a roadmap to follow.
  • Add lavender oil to your pillow to relax you and lull you to sleep at night.
  • Drink chamomile tea, eat healthily, and avoid caffeine/alcohol.

With the amount of stress that the majority of the global population experiences today, most—if not all—of these options would be beneficial for just about anyone. If you haven’t experienced anxiety, count yourself lucky—and consider these self-care options preventative measures. Besides, who doesn’t feel better after some exercise, deep breathing, or a hot bath?


Anxiety treatments vary with each case, but most cases will most likely benefit from a combination of several therapies and lifestyle modifications. Regardless of the therapies you are prescribed, if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, just know that there are others who have been there before and who have come out on the other side of it. Stay patient and perseverant, and you will be feeling better before you know it. Recognizing your situation and taking steps toward improving your life is the best place to start.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Different anxiety disorders can have different symptoms, but there is one common theme to them all: a feeling of fear. Fear can manifest itself in numerous ways in a person’s conscious and subconscious mind, but all the reactions stem from a person’s fight-or-flight response. The mind determines the physical, emotional, and behavioral responses to the stress placed on it when experiencing anxiety.

Many times, a person will think that he or she has a medical condition due to physical symptoms of stress and anxiety—the most prevalent example of this is a panic attack. Anxiety manifests itself with real physical symptoms that sometimes mimic a heart attack or other medical emergency, but the brain is fooled into thinking that because the fight-or-flight response is heightened. Also, when a person experiences intense or repeated trauma, the mind can trick the body into thinking something is physically wrong either because of the severity of the trauma or the fact that it is prolonged. So the longer the event occurs, the worse the anxiety may get, and the worse it gets, the more physical symptoms may manifest themselves.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms can be easily categorized into three main segments: Behavioral, Physical, and Mental. However, a fourth small category exists, and that is Illness-related Symptoms that don’t seem to fall into the other three categories. While the complete list of symptoms could fill a small book, a shortened list of the most common can be summarized here.


Sometimes anxiety manifests itself with behavioral symptoms, and sometimes it does not. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder sufferers tend to be those with the most obvious behavioral symptoms because they tend to repeat an action over and over as a way to lessen their anxiety. However, other forms of the disorder can present behavioral changes as well, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Temperament changes, such as anger, impatience, irritability, and restlessness
  • Social withdrawal and avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety
  • Difficulty focusing or relaxing
  • Hypervigilance
  • Self-medicating or self-harm
  • Clumsiness
  • Weight loss or gain

While other behavioral symptoms may surface, the important thing is to watch for changes in a loved one or yourself that may be concerning. It is important to seek help for yourself or the other person, especially if you think there may be a danger of self-harm.

Anxiety mental symptoms


While the list of mental symptoms may not be the longest, they are perhaps the most important. Anxiety can change the chemical makeup of the brain, altering the connectors that communicate how to think—and sometimes how to act. Anxiety can even cause severe mental states, such as removing a person’s ability to feel pleasure or even causing a person to forget who they are. Thankfully, however, it is also possible to restore the mind once the anxiety is healed. Receiving help and treatment can prevent and reverse mental changes, keeping them from becoming permanent.

Mental symptoms can essentially be broken down into three categories: thoughts, emotions, and cognitive function.

Thoughts: negative, racing, crazy, strange, violent, obsessive, irrational, disturbing, scary

While it can be hard to control your thoughts, one step toward curing anxiety is to remind yourself each time you have one of these types of thoughts that it’s due to the anxiety and try to let it go. Awareness of the thoughts is important to recognize symptoms.

Emotions: mood symptoms, such as anger, hyperactivity, hysteria, euphoria, mood swings, sadness, suicidal thoughts—or fear symptoms, such as fear of death or going crazy, hypochondriasis, being scared easily

Just as it is important to recognize symptoms in your thoughts, recognizing mood changes will help you overcome anxiety faster by acknowledging them and recognizing them for what they are.

Cognitive Functions: memory loss, hallucinations, nightmares, detachment, disorientation, confusion, distorted reality

While thoughts, emotions, and cognitive functions are tied together, cognitive function describes more how the brain acts as opposed to thoughts or moods. Moods and cognitive functions are more noticeable by others; anxious thoughts can be kept to oneself more easily.

anxiety physical symptoms


The list of possible physical symptoms anxiety can cause by far the longest, proving that what affects the mind also affects the body. Symptoms can be felt in the entire body, such as aches and pains or a weakened immune system; they can also be felt in specific areas of the body, such as muscles, organs, head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, chest, neck, back, arms, stomach, etc. They can be vague, such as hormonal changes or high/low blood pressure, or specific, such as acne or tingling feet or toes. They can be internal, such as digestive issues or incontinence, or external, such as sweating or wheezing. Symptoms can even be subconscious nervous habits such as nail biting or inadvertent, such as drooling. Anxiety can even cause heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, leading a person to believe that they have a severe medical condition.

When a person experiences any physical symptoms (and an underlying health condition is ruled out), it is important to remember not to let the symptoms worsen the anxiety. Try to remain calm and remember that the symptom (and others you may experience) are brought on by the anxiety and will be reduced when the anxiety gets better.


Since each person is vastly different, symptoms can vary greatly, some perhaps even experiencing ones that may not be on any list. It is important to remember not to focus on the symptoms but to seek help and work toward retraining your brain to recognize anxiety and overcome it. Help is available, and there are always others out there who have experienced it and can support you in your journey toward healing.