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Severe Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms & Treatments For Severe Anxiety

By A Member of the Lina Team (Licensed Psychologist, PsyD)

What Is Severe Anxiety Disorder?

The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals) includes an entire section devoted to anxiety disorders. Eleven anxiety disorder diagnoses are listed, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder. There is no specific diagnosis called “Severe Anxiety Disorder.” However, in addition to making a diagnosis, clinicians consider whether an individual’s current symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.

What Are the Symptoms of Severe Anxiety?

There are several symptoms of severe anxiety. Severe anxiety is marked by intense distress, worried thoughts, physical discomfort, and a pattern of avoidance or safety-seeking behaviors that interrupt a person’s work, relationships, or daily life.

How Do You Survive Severe Anxiety? How do you live with severe anxiety?

Living with severe anxiety can be challenging because of the distress and disruption it causes. That said, there are ways to survive severe anxiety and live better with it. Getting into a regular routine with enough time to sleep, consistent exercise, and reduced caffeine/alcohol intake can help to regulate your body. Additionally, for those with a lot of worry, it can be helpful to allot specific “worry time” for twenty minutes each day. If a worry comes up earlier, just note it in a memo in your phone, and then devote that specific time for all of your worries. Having a support system is also invaluable in living better with severe anxiety.

What Does a Severe Anxiety Attack Look Like? What Happens During a Severe Anxiety Attack?

During a severe anxiety attack, you might experience a sudden increase in physical symptoms like shallow breath, racing heart beat, sweaty palms, flushing, muscle tension, and GI cramps. Some people feel a strong sense of uneasiness as well as worried thoughts. These symptoms typically peak within several minutes and naturally alleviate over time.

How Do You Calm a Severe Anxiety Attack

During a severe anxiety attack it can be helpful to intentionally deepen your breaths and slow their pace (a rhythm of 4 seconds in, 7 seconds out is recommended). Using cold water to splash on your face, neck, and hands can help to regulate your body. You can also practice distraction techniques like searching for items of one color all around the room, or calling a friend to talk.

How Long Does It Take For Severe Anxiety To Go Away?

Severe anxiety can last for up to about twenty minutes in the form of a physical anxiety attack, though persistent anxiety can continue throughout the day. For some people, severe anxiety goes away naturally on its own, while others might require treatment in order to feel relief.

Can You Recover from Severe Anxiety Disorder?

Yes, you can recover from a severe anxiety disorder. Research shows that both pharmacological and therapeutic treatments can be very effective.

Is It Possible To Cure Severe Anxiety?

While severe anxiety can be treated, there is no cure-all for anxiety. Anxiety is a natural emotion that will continue to occur in some degree when you face a stressful or unpredictable situation. With proper treatment, someone suffering from severe anxiety can experience major relief and begin to experience anxiety at a healthy and typical level.

Is Severe Anxiety Treatable? How Long Does It Take to Treat Severe Anxiety?

Severe anxiety is very responsive to pharmacologic and therapeutic treatment. A typical course of treatment for severe anxiety can take as short as eight weeks. For individuals whose anxiety is secondary to another condition (like post-traumatic stress disorder or a medical diagnosis, for instance), treatment might take longer.

What’s The Best Treatment For Severe Anxiety?

The current best standards for treatment are psychotherapeutic options like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychiatry medications including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or anxiolytic medications.