It probably comes as no surprise that anxiety and depression have spiked in the last couple of years. According to the CDC, in 2019, 8.1% of adults in the U.S. had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Today, that number is around 28%. While that’s not the highest it’s been since 2019, it is still significantly higher than it was before the pandemic began. And in some age groups, it’s currently as high as 41%.
Symptoms of anxiety don’t always indicate a specific anxiety disorder, but if left untreated over the long-term, anxiety can lead to a mental health disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder, in particular, can develop at any stage in a person’s life. If you have anxiety, treatment is available. Here’s what you need to know about getting help with generalized anxiety disorder.
What is generalized anxiety disorder?
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), is a mental health condition characterized by chronic and excessive worry. People who suffer from GAD have a range of different worries, though the specifics vary from person to person. They may experience uncontrollable worry about money, work, health, safety, personal appearance, or catastrophic events, such as earthquakes or car accidents. They may also experience excessive anxiety about minor matters, such as finding parking or getting to bed on time. The content of the worries can be quite common even for people who do not have generalized anxiety disorder, but it differs in intensity, frequency, and duration. People with GAD tend to worry more intensely, more often, for longer periods of time, and about a wider range of topics. They also find it difficult to control their worry. For many, even the thought of not worrying causes anxiety, as they tend to hold the belief that their worry is what keeps them safe. GAD causes significant distress and can interfere with the individual’s school or work, relationships, health, and enjoyment of life.
Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
Anxiety can be tricky to notice if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Your anxiety may be easily identifiable, but it is also common to develop coping mechanisms that either calm the anxiety or disguise it as something else. For example, chronic procrastination, perfectionism, introversion, flakiness, and other personality “quirks” are sometimes signs of an underlying anxiety. High-achievers, people pleasers, and other personality types often develop these characteristics as a way of coping with or disguising their anxiety, even if they don’t realize they have anxiety in the first place. Every person is different, and two people with GAD can have vastly different symptoms, but some general symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Uncontrollable worry
- Restlessness and edginess
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
Depending on the person, specific warning signs of GAD may include:
- Catastrophic thinking
- Anxiety about work, job performance, or job security
- Persistent worry about the health and safety of family members
- Persistent worry about personal health and safety
- Always on alert to threats or danger
- Stomach pain, nausea, or digestive trouble
- Increased heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
The stress associated with generalized anxiety disorder can take its toll on your physical and mental health, significantly decreasing your quality of life. But treatment is available to help you manage your symptoms and ease your worry.
Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder
Typically, treatment for generalized anxiety disorder falls into two main categories: medication and psychotherapy. Medications used for the treatment of anxiety include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta blockers. Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are two types of psychotherapy often used to treat the symptoms of GAD.
As with many mental health disorders, the most effective treatment will depend on the individual. Medication may be enough to minimize symptoms and restore emotional equilibrium for one person while another may find that psychotherapy and lifestyle changes are most effective. For others, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may work best.
For those who have tried a number of different treatments for anxiety but have still not found relief, Ketamine IV therapy may be a solution. Ketamine IV therapy involves a carefully dosed infusion of ketamine in a healthcare facility. Typically patients receive a series of 90-minute treatments (plus an observation period after each session) over a period of a few weeks. While traditional medications can take weeks to show results, ketamine symptom relief usually begins within a few hours of treatment. Some people find that ketamine therapy is enough to relieve their symptoms altogether, while others find that it works best in combination with other medications and treatments.
Anxiety treatment in San Diego | Pacific Health Systems
Whether you’re still not sure if you have anxiety, or you’re looking for a more effective treatment, Pacific Health Systems can help. We provide high-quality, cost-effective mental health and chemical dependency services in San Diego. Our compassionate providers specialize in Primary Care, Psychiatry Services, Psychology Services, Advanced Depression and Anxiety Treatments, and Non-Opiate Pain Treatment. We’re committed to providing each patient with a customized treatment plan designed to help them live a healthy, happy, and productive life. From diagnosis through treatment, we’ll be there for you every step of the way. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment with one of our providers, give us a call at (619) 267-9257 today.