Hudson Hsieh, M.D., psychiatrist, Alegent Health Psychiatric Associates, and the Alegent Health Center for Mental Health
Q: I see commercials on television for prescriptions that deal with anxiety that make me wonder if I have a problem. What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and when should I seek help?
A: Commercials for these medications are really helpful. They make people aware of anxiety problems, which are both serious and very treatable.
Anxiety is a very human experience. Without it, we would subject ourselves to all kinds of danger. But sometimes anxiety goes too far.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can include muscle tension in the face or posture. Butterflies in the stomach, heart pounding, chest pain, and an urge to go to the bathroom are other physical signs.
Worrying that something bad might happen is at the core of anxiety disorders. It leads to a hypervigilance, both inward and outward. The intensity of the anxiety is inappropriate and extends beyond the event. For example, a person may lose sleep in anticipation of a casual social encounter and continue to lose sleep about it afterwards.
For depressive disorders, doctors recommend seeking treatment after two weeks. But there is no such uniform time period for anxiety disorders. In general, they continue for longer periods of time and treatment should be sought when the anxiety symptoms cause too much distress, dysfunction or disability.
Fortunately, treatments for anxiety disorders are very effective and well researched. Medications continue to improve and offer fewer side effects.
Getting help for an anxiety disorder doesn’t always mean taking medication, even for the most serious cases. There are different ways to deal with these disorders. Counseling, with or without medication, can have a good effect.
It’s important to know that anxiety disorders are real—and treatable.
FREE and Confidential Anxiety Screenings are available at the Alegent Health Psychiatric Associates. We have many convenient locations. Call 402-717-HOPE (4673) to schedule a screening.