Anxiety Treatment Online

Anxiety is a very normal and common emotion. Anxiety disorders can be different though, which can cause distress that affects one's daily life.

Anxiety

 Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Excessive worry
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Feelings of danger, panic, or dread
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritation
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or unsatisfying sleep

Diagnosing and Treating Anxiety Online

Most people experience anxiety from time to time — it's a very normal emotion. Anxiety can come and go, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Anxiety can be an important emotion, as it alerts us to potential danger or harm, and propels us into action or preparation for an important event. But for some people, their feelings of anxiety may last weeks, months, years, and can even be constantly present. Sometimes, these anxious emotions can become so severe that they begin to interfere with your daily life. The severity of the anxiety and worry can also become out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event. This is when anxiety is considered to be a disorder.


Risk Factors 

Some risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include:

  • A shy or nervous temperament as a child 
  • Stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
  • A family history of anxiety or other mental illnesses 

Medical Issues Related to Anxiety

Researchers have found that certain physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart disease, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms. Other examples of medical concerns that can be linked to anxiety include:

  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines), or other medications
  • Chronic pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Anxiety can reveal itself in many distinct physical symptoms so it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate anxiety from other medical concerns. For example, racing heart, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in your chest can all overlap with some cardiac and respiratory symptoms. Working with a medical professional is important to understand your physiological symptoms and their causes.  

Symptoms of anxiety can also overlap with other mental health diagnoses, which is why working with a mental health professional can be important in best understanding your symptoms and how to address them. Some disorders that can present with anxiety include:

  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Other major mental illnesses

Preventing Anxiety

The causes of an individual person’s anxiety are difficult to know, which makes prevention challenging. Fortunately, there are some widely accepted approaches to reducing anxiety over the long term:

  • Keep stress in check by going on regular walks or taking an online exercise class. Regular physical activity can do wonders for anxiety and depression.

  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep your mental energy stable by avoiding greasy, sugary, high-fat, and processed foods.

  • Write down your stress and anxiety triggers.. Keeping a journal can help you identify obstacles to address on your own or with a therapist.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts and worry. Pay attention to patterns of negative or anxious thinking. Look for opportunities to challenge, contradict, or fact-check anxious thoughts and replace them with more balanced or neutral thoughts.

 

Discussing Anxiety with an Online Therapist

During a video consult on Amwell, your therapist or psychiatrist will ask you a series of targeted questions to make an accurate diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan for you. This is based on the duration and severity of symptoms, and your medical history. You may also discuss your work, home environment, and daily habits. 


Treatment Options

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Depending on the cause and severity of the anxiety, your treatment plan may include:

  • Medications to help the symptoms. These can include types of benzodiazepines or antidepressants.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy 
  • Stress reduction techniques 

If you’ve been worrying more than normal lately, make time to talk it over with a therapist. It could be the first step to feeling more like yourself.

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"The ability to talk to a therapist via video has been useful, and saves me time from commuting to an office."

- AJ, October 2016

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1‑844‑SEE‑DOCS for questions about our services or to speak to a doctor about your symptoms or conditions.

  • What are the different types of anxiety?

    There are several different types of anxiety. They include:

    • Social anxiety: People with an intense fear of social or performative situations may have social anxiety disorder. They think that their actions or behaviors will be “wrong” in the eyes of family, friends, colleagues, and/or peers. This may lead them to avoid social scenarios.
    • Generalized anxiety (GAD): When you have GAD you show excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about personal health, your job, social interactions, and/or everyday routine situations.
    • Panic disorder: People with panic disorder have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear. These attacks come on fast and peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.
    • Specific phobia: A phobia is when fear or anxiety is circumscribed to the presence of a particular situation or object. Most people in this category have more than one specific phobia, and the fear can lead to persistent avoidant behaviors that may impact their quality of life. 
    • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is understood as fear or anxiety about using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed spaces, crowds, and/or being away from home.  Most often, a person will avoid the situations that provoke the anxiety, fearing that they will have an embarrassing event or be unable to escape the situation.  Activities of daily living can potentially be very impacted by this avoidance.
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop in people who’ve lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. PTSD causes people to feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): People with OCD have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that they feel the urge to repeat over and over. OCD is usually diagnosed when these thoughts and behaviors occur over a long-lasting period of time.
    • Separation anxiety: Infants and toddlers often go through a stage of separation anxiety. This can happen when they’re leaving their parents to spend time with other family members or caregivers. It’s a normal stage of development. Most children outgrow separation anxiety by about 3 years of age.
    • Substance/Medication-induced anxiety: Significant anxiety symptoms can be a result of both the use of a substance or medication, or withdrawal from a substance or medication. A medical professional is important to understand and diagnose any medication or substance use related anxiety and respond accordingly.
  • Are there any physical symptoms of anxiety?

    Yes – many people with anxiety have physical (or “somatic”) symptoms such as dizziness, headache, stomach aches/bowel issues, fatigue, insomnia and even increased pain.

  • Is anxiety normal?

    Yes – anxiety is a very normal reaction especially in stressful situations. Although, it is a disorder needing treatment when it occurs without provocation, is excessive or inappropriate to the situation. If it impairs the person’s functioning in any aspect of their lives it is also considered a disorder.

  • Depression vs Anxiety: what are the key differences?

    Depression is when one is constantly in a low mood with loss of interests and enjoyment, accompanied by other changes such as low energy, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite and poor concentration. Anxiety does not always include this feeling of a low mood – typically, it is excessive or inappropriate worry.

  • What causes anxiety?

    Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors. One reason is disturbance in brain function related to the serotonin levels. This will ultimately cause symptoms of excessive worry or nervousness. Serotonin carries signals along and between nerves and is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance.

    Some risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include:

    • A shy or nervous temperament as a child 
    • Stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
    • A family history of anxiety or other mental illnesses  

    Stressful situations can temporarily worsen anxiety, but do not cause it. Our social and family environments can impact our experience of worry and anxiety as well. For example, if you are surrounded by others with high anxiety or were taught that many life situations and events warrant excessive worry, this may have influenced how you have grown to make sense of the world around you.

  • Is there medication for anxiety?

    Yes – many medications are available and effective in decreasing anxiety. Examples include many types of antidepressants, as well as benzodiazepines and others.

  • What is the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack?

    They are basically different names for the same thing. An anxiety attack is more of a lay term for the more technical panic attack.

  • What is the difference between GAD and social anxiety?

    Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is excessive worrying, whereas social anxiety only occurs in or is triggered by having to perform in social situations (i.e. eating, talking, etc. in front of others).

  • What does it mean to be neurotic?

    The term "neurotic" is actually no longer a term used in any official clinical diagnosis system or classification. While "neurosis" was once included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a diagnosis, this was removed in 1980 and is not commonly used by mental health professionals today. We now understand these symptoms to more appropriately fit with anxiety and depressive disorders. As with any outdated term, the meaning and use of the term neurotic and neurosis can vary considerably from person to person. In other words, without a standardized and official definition of diagnosis or symptom, there is a great deal of room for various interpretations and understandings of any mental health concept. Generally speaking, neurosis reflects a period of experiencing anxiety or obsessive thoughts, which can contribute to emotional instability and generally cause distress. At times, these symptoms may be severe enough to interfere with some areas of functioning, but not to a severe or significant degree. The good news is that these symptoms and experiences are well understood and treated within the framework of anxiety and/or depression, which most mental health clinicians are very experienced at working with!

  • What types of therapy treatment can help reduce neurotic behavior?

    Neurosis can be best conceptualized by a mental health professional as symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, and therefore responds very well to the many evidence-based practices developed for depression and anxiety. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), mindfulness, acceptance, and commitment therapy (ACT), and many others. Therapists are trained to help individuals recognize negative thinking patterns and behaviors, identify opportunities for change, increase their ability to recognize and manage their emotional experiences and improve interactions with others. This can all be considered standard psychological care, which the concept of neurosis responds very well to. Online therapy can be a very effective modality for the treatment of neurosis and neuroticism. In some cases, a psychiatric medication evaluation may also be quite helpful in addressing these symptoms.

  • Are there benefits to having a neurotic personality?

    Neuroticism continues to sometimes be used in conceptualizations of personality traits, though like neurosis, it is not an official diagnosis. The five-factor model of personality, which is used in personality evaluations across a wide range of cultures, identifies neuroticism as one of the five primary personality traits that all individuals experience on a spectrum of severity and intensity. The other four traits are extraversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, and openness, and we all experience these traits in various intensities, with the average individual being somewhere in the 'middle' range. Neuroticism is a long-term general tendency toward negative emotions and chronic distress. Unlike neurosis, which was formerly used to describe a diagnosable set of psychiatric symptoms, neuroticism is a personality trait and not a medical condition. The two terms are often confused. A person with high levels of neuroticism may be more sensitive to environmental stress, prone to sadness and depression, have a tendency towards self-doubt, experience some instability in their emotions, and generally have the experience of feeling anxious more often than others. Over time, neuroticism can make a person more prone to anxiety, mood disorders, and other negative social and emotional outcomes as they have more difficulty navigating everyday stressors and frustrations than others may. Personality traits, as understood by mental health professionals, tend to be a more chronic, long-lasting, ongoing way of feeling and experiencing the world, but that does not mean that personality traits are out of our control or cannot be changed. With insight, willingness, and therapy, it is entirely possible to make small changes, practice coping skills, and learn new ways of managing emotions and interacting with the world that can add up significant improvement in mood and satisfaction with life. -------- All feelings, even negative or distressing emotions such as anxiety and sadness (formerly called neurosis in some cases), have a distinct and important purpose that ultimately contributes to our survival and functioning. Anxiety, which corresponds most closely with neurosis, is a form of fear. Fear and our body and mind's response to fear is a very important experience as it keeps us alert to threats and danger. Fear triggers an adrenaline response, as well as our "fight or flight" response, which helps us to escape danger and threat. Without it, we long ago would've been much more likely to be prey to predators and succumb to other dangers. Nowadays, anxiety helps us to prepare for important events or tasks, alerts us to potential concerns or dangerous situations. For example, it is beneficial to feel a bit nervous the first time you learn to drive a car or before an important test, as this makes us more likely to prepare appropriately and pay attention to our surroundings. So someone with a tendency towards neuroticism may have times when their sensitivity to threat is beneficial to them. But as with any normal emotional experience, there are times when the intensity of the feeling is disproportionate to the situation, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with our daily functioning. It is at this point that seeking professional help is important.

  • How do you treat neurosis naturally?

    While medication can be a useful tool for some in the treatment of anxiety and depression, there are many other therapeutic interventions that can also be effective when addressing neurosis. These include therapy with a mental health professional, mindfulness, meditation and relaxation, exercise, a healthy diet and sleep, and minimal use of alcohol or other substances.

  • What are natural ways to help reduce anxiety?

    • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Keep your mental energy stable by avoiding greasy, sugary, high-fat, and processed foods.
    • Keep stress in check by going on regular walks or taking an online exercise class.
    • Write down your stress and anxiety triggers. Keeping a journal can help you identify problems to address on your own or discuss with a therapist.
  • What is a panic attack (also known as an anxiety attack)?

    A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear. These attacks come on fast and peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation. While it has become somewhat common to talk about “panic attacks,” a true panic episode requires multiple distinct symptoms and lasts for a short period of time. While true panic episodes are relatively rare, feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or having difficulty recovering from anxiety is a much more common experience.

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