Occasional anxiety and worrying is a normal part of life. Everyday anxiety is of no harm, it can rather help people deal with life threatening situations. It is said that “a person gives his/her best performance under pressure” like studying harder for exams or sports and other activities. Anxiety is not necessarily harmful and usually only lasts a short period of time.
However, people with anxiety disorders have intense, excessive, frequent and a persistent worrying pattern along with fear about daily situations too. Often, it involves repeated episodes of sudden unusual feelings of anxiousness and fear with terror that can reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
Such episodic feelings and panic interfere with daily normal activities and become very difficult to control. These are actually out of the proportion to any actual kind of danger and can last for a long time. Patients try and avoid places or situations to prevent such intense overwhelming feelings. Symptoms have an onset during childhood or in teen years and may continue into adulthood.
Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). There can be even more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety is as a result of a medical condition that needs treatment and attention.
A Guide to Anxiety Disorders
Common symptoms of anxiety disorder
Anxiety signs and symptoms include:
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Unusual sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Weakness or fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Gastrointestinal (gi) problems
- Difficulty in dealing with worries
- Urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Common causes of anxiety disorder
These aren’t fully understood. Life experiences such as tragedies and traumas appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people more prone to anxiety.
For some people, anxiety may be linked to an underlying health issue while in others anxiety can be a sign or a symptom or a first indicators of a medical illness. If it comes to your doctor’s suspicion that your anxiety may have a medical cause, then he may write some tests to look into the problem.
Examples of such medical problems include:
- Heart disease
- Thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism)
- Respiratory disorders (copd and asthma)
- Drug and alcohol misuse/withdrawal
- Anti-anxiety medications or other medications
- Chronic pain
- Tumors that produce certain fight-or-flight (adrenaline) hormones
Also not to forget anxiety can be due to side effect of certain medications.
Risk factors of anxiety disorder
These factors may increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders:
- Children and adults who endured abuse or a traumatic event are at higher risk to develop an anxiety disorder at any point in life.
- Having a health condition or serious illness can cause significant worry about issues such as your treatment and your future.
- People of certain personality types are more likely to get anxiety disorders than other once.
- People already having other mental health disorders, such as depression.
- Anxiety is said to run in families.
- Drugs and alcohol use, misuse or withdrawal worsen anxiety.
Common complications due to anxiety disorder
Having anxiety can lead to, or worsen, any other mental and physical conditions, like as:
- Depression (actually a precursor of anxiety)
- Substance abuse and misuse
- Digestive or stomach and bowel problems
- Headaches and other chronic pains
- Social isolation
- Problems functioning at work or school
- Poor quality of life
Anxiety disorder diagnosis
If a person thinks that he/she is affected by an anxiety disorder then they should see a doctor. Doctor would perform some routine tests to make sure that the cause of anxiety has nothing to do with any other physical cause. He may ask you question to know whether the anxiety is related to depression so it becomes important for people to tell their health consultants about how they feel or what are their concerns, so that the doctor can accurately diagnose the cause of their anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety disorder
Effective and efficient treatment helps a person learn how to control his/her anxiety. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of the anxiety you’re experience.
- For mild symptoms your health professional might suggest nothing more than few lifestyle changes, such as physical exercise, meditation and reducing your stress levels.
- Whereas if the symptoms of your anxiety range from moderate to severe, psychological and/or medical treatments are likely to be required accordingly.
Prevention of anxiety disorder
You can take following steps to reduce the impact of the symptoms if you’re anxious:
- Get help early as it can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Enjoy social interaction and engage in activities you are interested in, this would help lessen your worries.
- Alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you have addiction to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious.