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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?

01/01/2011

Question:

What are the symptoms of anxiety and stress disorders? What is the recommended medication?

Answer:

There are several symptoms associated with anxiety and stress disorders.

As a group, all anxiety disorders are characterized by overwhelming feelings of anxiety, worry or panic, and must interfere with an individual`s ability to carry out his or her tasks.

What separates the different disorders is the focus on different aspects of anxiety.

For example, social anxiety disorders (social phobia) stem from extreme fear of embarassing or humiliating one`s self in public (which may be specific to certain events like eating, speaking or dating, or may be more general).

Panic disorder is characterized by intense physical reactions (e.g., heart racing, palms sweating), sometimes without any clear cues for danger, that can feel like an individual is having a heart attack, losing control or going crazy.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by continous worry, about a variety of topics, typically leading also to physical symptoms such as stomach upset and muscle tension or headaches. 

There are many medications that work for different anxiety disorders. However, it is difficult to give clear direction on which medications are the best without knowing precisely which anxiety disorder is affecting your life--even though they all have aspects of anxiety as a core symptom--the medical treatment is quite different.

The ideal medication for any disorder is one that is best suited to the symptoms as well as the medical history of the individual seeking treatment.

As with all medications, individuals differ in their reactions and in the extent of relief from anxiety symptoms. Which means that you will need to try the medication before you can be certain if it can help you manage your anxiety. Always be certain that you consult a medical doctor prior to starting any treatment, that you inform your doctor(s) of any/all medications taken (including those you start/discontinue after you have started this medication), and any existing health problems.

We cannot stress enough that good medicine begins with an honest doctor-patient relationship, particularly when prescribing medication. It is also important to follow the directions closely, particularly regarding the dose and time of day the medicine should be taken. Never start or stop a medication without first notifying your prescribing physician.

For more information:

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Response by:

Norman B Schmidt, PhD
Associate Professor
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
The Ohio State University

Kathleen Kara Fitzpatrick, MA
Clinic Staff
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
The Ohio State University