We know that the brain is very much involved in the generation of anxiety disorders and so it would be important if an individual has a concern that they have a chemical imbalance to get an assessment with a psychiatrist in order to determine how much of their anxiety is related to the brain versus environment versus psychosocial factors.
Anxiety disorders can be treated and often it requires medication. Sometimes it does not require medication in therapy, but it's always recommended if medication is required that it only occurs alongside therapy. If an individual learns the proper ways of coping and continues to manage their medications appropriately, it is reasonable to think that their anxiety, can go into remission and they can become more proactive in intervening with the choices they make to prevent anxiety from becoming debilitating.
You often find anxiety disorders co-existing with alcohol disorders. You find many individuals who have an untreated anxiety disorder that they attempt to self-medicate with alcohol. Their brain becomes reinforced in using alcohol because when they do become relaxed. They report worrying less, and subsequently over time in an effort to treat their anxiety they can develop alcohol abuse or dependency disorders independent of the anxiety.
Yes, absolutely. We know that individuals who are experiencing high levels of stress, i.e. anxiety, that their short term memory is affected. Their long term memory is affected too, but typically you're going to see an increase in short term memory deficits moreso than long term memory deficits with anxiety associated symptoms.
We understand that individuals often have a genetic predisposition. If you see a family history of anxiety disorders, then it is important to know that to facilitate treatment. When you evaluate someone who is presenting what appears to be an anxiety disorder, if there is evidence to support that they have a long history or genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders, then the goal is to treat and teach them how to manage the anxiety effectively. So it may be unrealistic for them to expect their anxiety to be cured, but it is certainly reasonable and realistic for them to expect that their anxiety can be appropriately managed and the quality of their life can be improved and maintained over a period of time, provided there is ongoing self-care.
It is always important for individuals to rule out any physical or medical problems that could be mimicking a mental health disorder, so a medical exam is important. It is important to refer them to a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed professional counselor who can perform a series of assessments (i.e. testing) with them to help determine what the appropriate course of action will be. Depending on the severity and the degree to which it is debilitating would determine the appropriate level of care. Referring them to a professional that can accurately diagnose and make recommendations for appropriate care is the best way to help them begin to better manage their anxiety in order to achieve an improved quality of life.