Expert view on Anxiety: Know it before it turns into a Disorder

Q: Can you indicate the common causes of anxiety and panic disorders?

In general, the underlying cause of anxiety and panic disorders could be attributed to any number of reasons, both biological and environmental. The exact cause is still unknown.

People who experience high levels of stress in their lives may have an increased risk of developing panic disorder. For example, people who have been physically or sexually abused, people with severe medical illnesses (e.g., asthma or heart disease) and people with a history of drugs and alcohol abuse are at increased risk of developing anxiety disorders such as panic disorders.

Q: What is the line of treatment for anxiety and panic disorders? Whom should the patient consult?

Medications have been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders, including panic disorders.

 It is highly recommended to consult a primary care physician first, before you take any medication to treat anxiety. In order to rule out any other possible illnesses or medical concerns, he/ she can provide a referral to a mental health provider to diagnose and if necessary, prescribe medication depending on the diagnosis.

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Some of the most frequently prescribed medications are: anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, most commonly used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The most appropriate medication for each individual will depend on a number of factors and should be discussed with one’s doctor.

Anxiety and Panic Disorders are best treated in combination of both a consistent form of therapy such as psychotherapy, creative expressive therapies, and cognitive behavioral therapies along with the prescription given.

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Q: Can you treat anxiety and panic disorders without prescription medication?

With anxiety disorders, it is difficult to be your own guide at the start of your treatment, because one usually feels so out of control. This is why what you are doing right now (reading different articles and gathering information) is a wonderful start!

It is best to consult and start a team treatment approach; together with your mental health provider you can find the best course of treatment that feels right for you. This may mean that you go through different types of medication (consulting with your physician) and explore a few therapies until you find the right fit for you. This of course takes time and effort! And at times people give up, understandably. It is important to know that you are not alone in this journey and that there are professionals that are prepared to help you through this.

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One of the main reasons it is recommended to use a combination of therapy and medication in anxiety disorders, is to support and teach you techniques to explore and to help you cope with the anxiety, not just the use of medication alone. Therapy serves to create a safe environment in which you can become aware of what may be at the root of your anxiety and teach you ways to handle and ultimately gain control of your reactions to potential stressors. Panic disorders are generally very responsive to treatment when detected early.

Depending on the severity of the anxiety, once you have ruled out any other possible medical conditions, you may be able to treat milder forms of anxiety by making some changes to your life style without prescription medication. There is no quick fix!

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