If you’re suffering from anxiety and can’t shake warning signs like stress or eating problems – and they begin overtaking your life – you may be at risk of developing an anxiety disorder. It’s only natural to self-diagnose, but the first step is to consider whether lifestyle triggers anxiety symptoms.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder?
“Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.”
The symptoms, sometimes manageable with ketamine therapy, interfere with all aspects of daily life.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
There are five major kinds of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder features chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even without cause.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder has recurring, unwanted thoughts and repetitive actions. Hand washing, checking, counting, or cleaning are often done in the hope of stopping these ideas or making them disappear. But doing these actions only brings temporary relief, and not doing them will increase anxiety.
- Panic disorder includes unexpected and recurrent episodes of extreme fear plus physical symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, abdominal discomfort).
- Posttraumatic stress disorder may happen following exposure to a terrifying event where severe physical harm was threatened or happened.
- Social phobia features overwhelming anxiety and extreme self-consciousness in daily life. It can be restricted to one kind of situation – like fear of speaking, eating, or drinking in front of others – or could be such that you have symptoms, regularly, in someone else’s presence.
How Many People Have Anxiety Disorders?
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are common, affecting more than 40 million adults, or about 19 percent of the population. Other facts about anxiety disorders include:
- Anxiety disorders are more common in men than women.
- Nearly a third of U.S. adults may experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
- Adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 also get anxiety disorders.
- Only about 37 percent of adults seek treatment.
Is An Anxiety Disorder A Cause Or Consequence Of Your Lifestyle?
The most common causes for anxiety disorders are things many people would relate to their lifestyle. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says, “Both anxiety and depression were significantly associated with physical inactivity in both sexes and with an unhealthy diet in men but not in women. Anxiety and depression were significantly correlated to smoking habits in men, whereas only depression was related to smoking in women. In both sexes, the global score reflecting unhealthy lifestyles was positively associated with the degree of anxiety and depression.”
Some people may improve their lifestyle on their own and decrease stress levels, thereby reducing the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Still, some people choose to treat their condition with psychotherapy or medicine like ketamine.
Common causes of an anxiety disorder may include:
- An unhealthy lifestyle.
- Lack of sleep, resulting in sleeping problems, may trigger an anxiety disorder. Research shows that most people with psychiatric disorders have some kind of sleep disruption and that people “with chronic insomnia are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.”
- Poor diet, in addition to an unhealthy lifestyle, may also lead to an anxiety disorder. This is especially true if you consume too much alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine. Processed foods may also be a culprit.
- Lack of exercise or physical activity, according to a study in frontiers in psychiatry published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
- Constant exposure to stressful events or environmental factors may trigger an anxiety disorder.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Because there is no single cause for an anxiety disorder, it’s often difficult to diagnose and equally hard to treat. If you think you have signs of an anxiety disorder, see your healthcare provider. The process normally begins by taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical examination. Lab tests or scans can be inconclusive, but your doctor may recommend certain ones to uncover or exclude physical conditions that might be triggering symptoms. You may also be referred to a mental health specialist for further evaluation. Psychotherapy is a standard treatment, but your doctor may also recommend ketamine therapy.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder and can’t get them under control, the next logical step may be to see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and possible treatment. With time and care, including lifestyle changes and other strategies, you may reduce symptoms like stress before they become overwhelming.