Ask a Doc: I feel anxious a lot. Do I have an anxiety disorder?
Question: I feel anxious a lot. Do I have an anxiety disorder?
Answer: Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that they interfere with a person's ability to carry out normal daily activities. The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown but, like other forms of behavioral health difficulties, are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. Anxiety disorders affect about 19 million adult Americans and most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. They can occur slightly more often in women than in men, and occur with equal frequency in whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics.
The good news is that much progress has been made during the last two decades in the treatment of people with anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach varies from person to person, one or a combination of the therapies may be used. These may include medication, psychotherapy, relaxation therapy, cognitive/behavioral therapy and diet and lifestyle changes. A good place to start is a discussion with your primary care provider or by calling Holyoke Medical Center’s Outpatient Center for Behavioral Health at (413) 534-2698.
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