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Though it’s a normal response to stress or perceived danger, anxiety is one of the not-so-fun parts of being human. But sometimes it doesn’t go away, even when a problem has seemingly been resolved. Feeling anxious for long periods can lead some people to wonder — can anxiety go away on its own?
Whether you’re struggling with normal anxiety or are dealing with a more long-term anxiety disorder, the question lingers as to whether you need treatment to make anxiety go away.
From breaking down the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder to how to manage both, this guide will answer the question: can anxiety disorder go away on its own?
Before answering, “Can anxiety go away on its own?” we’ll get into the difference between everyday anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is something we all experience. It’s a response to danger or stress when our bodies go into “fight-or-flight” mode, a survival response to an external stressor. Typically, our anxious feelings go away once the stress trigger does.
If feelings of anxiety persist or last a long time, it could be an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders — a group of mental health conditions that affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviors — affect over 40 million adults in the U.S.
A variety of anxiety disorders exist, including:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Generalized anxiety disorder causes excessive or persistent fear, anxiety or worry.
Social anxiety disorder.Social anxiety is the extreme fear of being judged negatively in social situations.
Panic disorder. Those with panic disorder have recurring panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of intense fear even if no clear danger is present.
Postpartum anxiety.Postpartum anxiety is extreme fear or worry that occurs after birth or adoption. Signs of postpartum anxiety can include staying awake all night, being afraid to leave your baby or even avoiding leaving your house.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also experience symptoms of anxiety.
Now the important question: can anxiety go away on its own? Not exactly.
Since anxiety is part of the body’s natural system, we’ll always experience anxiety just before big moments like a presentation or social event.
But anxiety doesn’t always go away once the stressor is gone. If anxious feelings or worry persists and there’s no clear stressor, it would be an anxiety disorder.
So, can anxiety disorder go away on its own? No. An anxiety disorder, if left untreated, often gets worse over time and affects your quality of life.
While anxiety may not go away on its own, there are ways to manage anxiety symptoms.
You may know what normal anxiety feels like before you step into a work presentation or head to a big party — you have a racing heartbeat, your hands shake a bit or you sweat a little. But once the stressful moment is over, these symptoms disappear.
Symptoms of chronic anxiety can last longer, though.
People can experience both psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety. Psychological symptoms include:
Excessive or persistent fear or worry
Meanwhile, you might experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as:
Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
Increased heart rate or rapid heartbeat
You can find help for your anxiety from healthcare providers as well as mental health professionals. Depending on your symptoms and other factors, they may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options.
Psychotherapy — also called talk therapy — involves talking with a mental health professional about what’s causing your anxiety, your symptoms and anything else important to your mental health.
There are many types of therapy for anxiety, including:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders, CBT aims to change your thought and behavior patterns to help you grow.
Interpersonal therapy. In interpersonal therapy, you’ll work to overcome interpersonal issues that contribute to mental health issues, such as conflicts in relationships, grief or work-related problems.
Online mental health services can help you figure out which type of therapy you’d benefit from most.
Certain habits can improve not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Regular exercise can help reduce physical anxiety symptoms and manage your mental health, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily life is another way to reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness practices might involve deep breathing techniques, yoga or guided imagery to help you be more present and focus your attention.
Continuous mindfulness practice has been found to lower stress levels. Mindfulness-based therapy has also been found to reduce anxiety.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend anti-anxiety medications. Some examples include:
Beta-blockers, such as propranolol
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine
Our full guide on medications for anxiety can give you more information about other options. Or you can talk to your healthcare provider about your physical symptoms.
Can anxiety go away on its own? Normal, everyday anxiety can. Anxiety disorders don’t.
We all have anxious feelings or feel worried from time to time. But when we feel worried or anxious most of the time, we could be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
While chronic anxiety doesn’t go away on its own, there are ways to manage anxiety symptoms. Therapy, medication and mindfulness techniques are some of the most common and effective anxiety treatment options.
You can get started with online therapy or browse our mental health resources for more information straight from your couch.
Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.
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