Anxiety: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments
Anxiety is a common feeling felt by everyone at some point in their lives. It is the general feeling of worry, unease, or fear, that can range in severity. Anxiety is a natural feeling that presents itself when a perceived threat arises.
Anxiety As A Disorder
Whilst feelings of anxiety are normal, more persistent cases are referred to as ‘Generalised Anxiety Disorder’ (GAD). Anxiety often arises from events, tasks, or people. For example, people may feel anxious about visiting a doctor, taking their driving test, being in a new work environment, or meeting someone new. GAD is when an individual struggles with anxiety related to multiple situations, rather than one specific event.
Anxiety is often a symptom of other illnesses, such as panic disorders, phobias, PTSD, and depression. GAD can often last for an extended period, and where one issue becomes resolved, the individual may feel anxious about new things.
Causes of Anxiety
The causes for GAD are not clear. Various factors may contribute to its development, such as imbalance of chemicals in the brain that make it difficult to regulate mood, genes from parents, traumatic experiences, or long-term health issues (such as arthritis).
Anxiety in the UK
The charity, Anxiety UK, estimate that millions of people in the UK suffer from anxiety. The Mental Health Foundation found that there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK in 2013. They also observed that women were twice as likely to be diagnosed, and the weekly prevalence of anxiety diagnoses are 6.6%. These feelings of anxiety can seriously impact the lives of sufferers, who can struggle to undertake simple daily tasks.
COVID-19 Impact on Anxiety
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, cases in anxiety have risen across the board. With various lockdowns, economic uncertainty, lack of human interaction, and the need for adaptability, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many individuals. The Office for National Statistics has observed:
- Feelings of loneliness, marital issues, sex and disability have increased significantly
- Couples are facing higher levels of anxiety (39%) as compared to pre-COVID (19%)
- Individuals over 75 were twice as likely to report high anxiety as compared to the 16-24 bracket
- 1 in 5 people have reported working from home as difficult
- Money worries, pessimism about the future, and generalised anxiety has increased for all age brackets
Symptoms of Anxiety
The NHS highlight the main symptoms of anxiety:
- Restlessness, dread, and feeling ‘on edge’
- Difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, and increased irritability
- Withdrawal of social contact in order to avoid negative feelings
- Difficulty with daily tasks, such as going to work or self-care
- Physical symptoms such as dizziness, tiredness, sweating, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, feeling nauseous, and insomnia
NHS Treatment of Anxiety
The NHS provide a range of different treatments for anxiety. The first treatment prescribed will usually be cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) where the patient can discuss their feelings and emotions with a licensed therapist in the hopes of overcoming and challenging their anxieties. These therapies will often occur within 8 weeks of diagnoses. Alternatively, there are a wide range of UK charities and services which offer help. Anxiety UK offer a range of self-help anxiety courses and group therapy sessions, as well as workbooks to help understand anxiety better. Mind UK also offer online support groups and general information for supporting yourself through anxiety.
Medical Prescriptions for Anxiety
If CBT does not prove to be highly effective, a doctor may prescribe medication. These can be either short or long-term prescriptions, with regular check-ins to monitor progress. A common prescription are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which aim to raise the chemical serotonin in your brain. These anti-depressants include sertraline and paroxetine, and start off in small doses. Side effects during the first few weeks of treatment can be common and include:
- Agitation or feeling sick
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Insomnia and lowered sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
Further Anti-Depressant Treatment
If SSRIs prove to be ineffective, a GP may prescribe Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), which work to the same effect as SSRIs, and include venlafaxine and duloxetine. These carry the same side effects as SSRIs, as well as potential increased blood pressure.
A final two medications can be Pregabalin, which is usually to treat epilepsy but has shown to be beneficial for anxiety, or Benzodiazepines, which are a sedative which aims to ease symptoms in a short period of time. Benzodiazepines can be highly addictive and will only be prescribed for a short amount of time.
If medication proves to be ineffective, you may be referred to a specialist. This includes psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers, and therapists. They will reassess your condition and devise a personalised treatment plan, consisting of either therapy or a mixture of medication.
How can PEMF help Anxiety?
Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequencies (PEMF) has been shown to help with conditions such as anxiety. As PEMF can help reduce the effects of stress in the brain, it provides a non-invasive therapy that promotes mental well-being through relaxation. As PEMF helps heal the body overall, it benefits other issues such as sleep deprivation – a common side effect of anxiety. By relaxing the body and mind, individuals can feel reinvigorated to tackle their daily lives. If left untreated, the brain can be exposed to a constant barrage of pain signals, becoming used to symptoms of anxiety. The intensity of these signals can increase over time.
Through this relaxation, patients can focus on smaller changes in their lives. This can include their diet, exercise routine, sleep patterns, and causes for motivation. As PEMF therapy can take place from home, patients remove any stress or anxiety related to office and doctor visits. There are no reported side effects to such therapy as well, providing an alternative to medication. The FDA approve of PEMF therapy as it has shown to modify neuro-chemical imbalances that cause anxiety. The relaxation of PEMF encourages the intake of serotonin and dopamine, and calms cortisol, the stress hormone.
PEMF Studies on Anxiety
One study showed that regular use of PEMF therapy led to a 62% reduction in their depression rating, whilst another home study found that 73% of patients improved their symptoms after eight weeks of daily use, and 52% were still in remission after two years since the treatment. It is clear that PEMF offers a calming, effective treatment for anxiety that can be undertaken in short sessions from home or in-clinic, and does not rely on medication or harmful side effects in order to see results.
For more information, please visit our blog post on PTSD here, which shares a lot of similarities to anxiety.
Try Drug-Free Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Whilst we cannot guarantee to cure or treat anxiety, due to a lack of sufficient clinical evidence into PEMF therapy, we have seen promising results so far through our own experiences, and emerging clinical trials into anxiety treatment.
We offer PEMF therapy for anxiety at our not-for-profit Centre based in Bristol. Our dedicated team will have an initial session with you to find out your symptoms, and the correct frequencies needed to help you.
Our concessions clinic offers therapy for anxiety at a discounted rate whilst we remain fully self-funded, making it affordable to the general public. You can learn more by clicking HERE. Our SCIO machines are also available for rental use at home.
We can then book regular sessions in to help improve your symptoms. We are flexible with our approach and will adjust treatment where necessary.
If you have any queries about our clinic, PEMF therapies, or anything else, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Lead Practitioner, Kasey, at email@example.com, or phone us on 03301 3301 83. You can also get in touch with our Research Assistant, Aled, at firstname.lastname@example.org.