Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.
What do I need to know about anxiety?
Anxiety is a condition that causes you to feel extremely worried or nervous. The feelings are so strong that they can cause problems with your daily activities or sleep. Anxiety may be triggered by something you fear, or it may happen without a cause. Family or work stress, smoking, caffeine, and alcohol can increase your risk for anxiety. Certain medicines or health conditions can also increase your risk. Anxiety can become a long-term condition if it is not managed or treated.
What other common signs and symptoms may occur with anxiety?
- Fatigue or muscle tightness
- Shaking, restlessness, or irritability
- Problems focusing
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling jumpy, easily startled, or dizzy
- Rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
What do I need to tell my healthcare provider about my anxiety?
Tell your healthcare provider when your symptoms began and what triggers them. Tell your provider if anxiety affects your daily activities. Your provider will also ask about your medical history and if you have family members with a similar condition. Tell your provider about your past and present alcohol, nicotine, or drug use.
What can I do to manage anxiety?
You may get medicines to help you feel calm and relaxed, and to decrease your symptoms. Medicines are usually given together with therapy or other treatments. The following can help you manage anxiety:
- Talk to someone about your anxiety. Your healthcare provider may suggest counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand and change how you react to events that trigger your symptoms. You might feel more comfortable talking with a friend or family member about your anxiety. Choose someone you know will be supportive and encouraging.
- Find ways to relax. Activities such as exercise, meditation, or listening to music can help you relax. Spend time with friends, or do things you enjoy.
- Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing can help you relax when you feel anxious. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths several times a day, or during an anxiety attack. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Create a regular sleep routine. Regular sleep can help you feel calmer during the day. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Do not watch television or use the computer right before bed. Your room should be comfortable, dark, and quiet.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Healthy foods can help you feel less anxious and have more energy.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can increase your energy level. Exercise may also lift your mood and help you sleep better. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Do not have caffeine. Caffeine can make your symptoms worse. Do not have foods or drinks that are meant to increase your energy level.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you. You may not be able to drink alcohol if you take certain anxiety or depression medicines. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day if you are a woman. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day if you are a man. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Do not use drugs. Drugs can make your anxiety worse. It can also make anxiety hard to manage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use drugs and want help to quit.
The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
- You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.
When should I call my doctor?
- Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
- Your anxiety keeps you from doing your regular daily activities.
- You have new symptoms since your last visit.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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Learn more about Anxiety
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Symptoms and Treatment
- Anxiety Medications and Alcohol Interactions
- Benzodiazepines: Overview and Use
- Mental Health Disorders
- Anxiety in Adolescents
- Anxiety in Children
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Relaxation and Meditation
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms and treatments
Medicine.com guides (external)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.