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Anyone who has ever worried about an upcoming test or fretted over meeting someone new has experienced some form of anxiety. Clinical anxiety, however, refers to a persistent psychological state which manifests itself in a number of physiological symptoms. These include nervousness, worry, trouble sleeping and some forms of cognitive dysfunction, up to and including panic or anxiety attacks.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the clinical diagnosis for pervasive anxiety in an individual. Those without GAD can still experience anxiety, sometimes severe at times, but if the condition is isolated or infrequent, a diagnosis of GAD is rare. One should seek a doctor’s assistance in diagnosing or treating GAD if the condition persistently interferes with the quality of one’s life.
Clinical anxiety can affect men or women, and may begin as early as adolescence or develop in a mature adult. Obvious symptoms are excessive worry or nervousness, but others are common as well. These include sleep disorders, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension and restlessness, among others. In severe cases, a doctor should perform tests to rule out other serious conditions which can mimic the symptoms of GAD.
Treatment for clinical anxiety varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the condition. There is no specific cure for clinical anxiety, nor is there a specific medical test which can diagnose it accurately. A psychiatrist is generally the type of doctor who would diagnose or treat clinical anxiety, although a psychologist may have extensive training and experience sufficient to do so. Either doctor might recommend changes in lifestyle, psychotherapy and/or anti-anxiety medications. Anti-depressant medications are often prescribed since depression commonly accompanies clinical anxiety.
Homeopathic treatments can involve the analysis of one’s lifestyle in the management of stress or trigger factors, such as relationships, work or school. Some argue that diet and exercise play the biggest factor in the suppression of clinical anxiety. Other methods of correction include relaxation tapes, breathing exercises and meditation. Incorporating the help of an emotional support animal in one's home has also proven to alleviate some anxiety. Persons diagnosed with GAD should generally avoid alcohol, junk food, or conditions which are likely to bring about worry or stress.
Clinical anxiety may produce anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, which are episodes of extreme anxiety that one cannot predict or for which there may or may not be a trigger factor. These episodes typically last from 5-15 minutes apiece and may be accompanied by severe shaking. During an anxiety attack, a person might experience a sense of impending doom or death unwarranted by the circumstances and which is incomprehensible to those around them.