Anxiety is a normal emotion. It’s your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead.
Anxiety Disorder is a mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Someone with anxiety disorder may respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. They may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are five major types of anxiety disorders and they are
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): It is an anxiety disorder which is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
- Panic Disorder: You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. During a panic attack you may break out in a sweat, have chest pain, and have a pounding heartbeat (palpitations). Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
- Social Anxiety: It is also called social phobia. This is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Some causes of anxiety disorders are:
- Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Brain chemistry: Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.
- Environmental stress: This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse: Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
- Medical conditions: Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. It’s important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
The main symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, stay still, and concentrate. Your specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have.
Common symptoms are:
- Panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Feelings of panic, doom, or danger
- Sleep problems
- Not being able to stay calm and still
- Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing faster and more quickly than normal (hyperventilation)
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
- Inability to concentrate
Anxiety Disorder Treatments
Usually, people with anxiety disorders go for counseling and use medications.
- Medication: Several types of drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the pros and cons of each medicine to decide which one is best for you.
- Psychotherapy: This is a type of counseling that helps you learn how your emotions affect your behaviors. It’s sometimes called talk therapy. A trained mental health specialist listens and talks to you about your thoughts and feelings and suggests ways to understand and manage them and your anxiety disorder.
10 Tips for Managing Anxiety Disorders
- Learn about your disorder.
- Stick to your treatment plan.
- Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Don’t use alcohol and recreational street drugs
- Eat right and exercise.
- Get better sleep.
- Keep a journal.
- Get together with friends.
- Seek support.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter meds or herbal remedies.
If you feel the need to speak with a professional about your disorder, Favdoctor is right here for that.