Health Desk- Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders often have intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of intense worry and sudden feelings of fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
These feelings of worry and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last for a long time. You may avoid places or situations to stop these feelings. Symptoms may begin during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood.
What is anxiety disorder ?
Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. You may have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety stems from a medical condition that requires treatment.
Any type of anxiety you have, treatment can help ?
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
1. Feeling nervous, anxious or tense.
2. Feeling of impending danger, panic or doom.
3. Increase in heart rate.
4.Rapid breathing (hyperventilation).
5. Excessive sweating.
6. Vibration of the body again and again.
7. Feeling weak or tired.
8. Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the current concern.
9. Trouble sleeping (Insomnia problem)
10. Experiencing Gastrointestinal Problems
11. Difficulty in controlling anxiety.
12. An urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
There are many types of anxiety disorders such as-
1. Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that may cause you panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
2.Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition involves symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
* These symptoms and signs show that you are suffering from anxiety disorder, know the treatment and prevention measures
3.Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worrying and worrying about activities or events – even common, routine issues. Anxiety is out of proportion to the actual situation, it is difficult to control and it affects how you feel physically. It is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression.
4. Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of intense anxiety and sudden feelings of fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have a feeling of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks can lead to anxiety about them happening again or to avoid the situations in which they occurred.
5. Selective mutism is the persistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. It can interfere with school, work, and social functioning.
6. Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder, which is excessive for the child’s level of development and is related to separation from parents or other people taking on the role of parent.
7. Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves avoidance of social situations due to high levels of anxiety, fear and embarrassment, self-consciousness and worry about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
8. Specific phobias are characterized by great anxiety when you are exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
9.Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of drug abuse, drug use, exposure to a toxic substance, or withdrawal from drugs.
10.Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for worries or fears that do not meet the exact criteria of any of the other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
When to see a doctor ?
1. You feel that you are worrying too much and it is interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life.
2. Your fear, worry or anxiety is troubling you and it is difficult to control.
3. You feel depressed, have problems with alcohol or drug use, or have anxiety as well as other mental health concerns.
4. You think your anxiety can be linked to a physical health problem.
5. You have suicidal thoughts or behavior – If so, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may get worse over time if you don’t seek help. See your doctor or mental health provider before your anxiety worsens. It is easy to treat if you get help early.
The causes of anxiety disorders are not fully understood. Life experiences such as traumatic events trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Hereditary traits can also be a factor.
For some people, anxiety may be linked to an underlying health problem. In some cases, the signs and symptoms of anxiety are the first indicators of a medical illness. If your doctor suspects that there may be a medical reason for your anxiety, he or she may order tests to look for signs of a problem.
What are examples of medical problems related to anxiety?
1. Heart disease.
3. Thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism.
4. Respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
5.Drug abuse or withdrawal.
6.Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines) or other drugs.
7.Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome.
8. Rare tumors that produce certain fight-or-flight hormones.
9. Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of some medicines.
It is possible that your anxiety may be due to an underlying medical condition if:
1. You do not have any blood relatives (eg parents or siblings) with anxiety disorder.
2. You did not have anxiety disorder in childhood.
3. You don’t avoid certain things or situations because of anxiety.
You have sudden episodes of anxiety that seem unrelated to life events and you have had no previous history of anxiety.
These factors can increase your risk of developing an anxiety disorder such as-
Children who have been abused or have witnessed trauma or traumatic events are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Adults who experience a traumatic event may also develop an anxiety disorder.
Stress due to illness-
Having a health condition or a serious illness can cause serious concern about issues such as your treatment and your future.
A major event or a build-up to minor stressful life situations can trigger extreme worry – for example, a death in the family, work stress or worry about finances.
People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others.
Other mental health disorders-
People with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.
Having blood relatives with anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
Drugs or alcohol-
Anxiety can be caused or worsened by drug or alcohol use or abuse or withdrawal.
Having an anxiety disorder does more than make you worry. It can also lead to or worsen other mental and physical conditions, such as:
1 .Depression (which is often accompanied by an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorder.
3. Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
4.Digestive or bowel problems.
5. Headache and chronic pain.
6. Social isolation.
7. Problems functioning at school or work.
8. Poor quality of life.
There is no way to predict with certainty what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of symptoms if you are anxious:
Get help early-
Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be difficult to treat if you wait.
Participate in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy social interaction and caring relationships, which can ease your worries.
Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs-
Alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you are addicted to any of these substances, quitting may make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.