Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of panic, nervousness, tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like sweating and an increase in blood pressure. It might cause you to feel tense and restless and have a faster heartbeat. It can be a common stress reaction. Anxiety is an emotional reaction to immediate danger and is more related to a fight or flight reaction. It refers to the anticipation of concern about the future and is more linked with avoidance behavior and muscle tension.

Overview

Episodic anxiety is a part of life. Anxiety disorders often involve repeated periods of unexpected feelings of intense fear, anxiety, or panic that reach the highest level within minutes. People with anxiety disorders habitually have intense, persistent, and excessive fears about routine situations. Anxiety can be helpful in some situations. It can alert you to hazards and help you to get ready for the situation and pay attention.

The feelings of panic and anxiety affect daily life and are challenging to control. You may ignore specific situations or places to escape from these feelings. Signs of anxiety might begin to appear during childhood or teenage and persist during adulthood.

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What are the types of anxiety?

There are several types of anxiety disorders based on the circumstances. Some of the major types of anxiety disorders include: 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a continuous and extreme level of worry that affects your daily activities. This constant worry and stress may be associated with physical symptoms, like fatigue, restlessness, concentration difficulty, muscle stiffness, or sleeping problems. Usually, the worries emphasize everyday things such as work, family matters, chores, etc. 

Panic Disorder

This involves recurrent periods of impulsive feelings of extreme anxiety and fear that reach a peak within minutes. During an attack, several of the anxiety disorder symptoms that occur in combination include palpitations (i.e. irregular heart rhythms), trembling of limbs, faintness, sweating, and shortness of breath, etc. Panic Disorder involves a combination of both physical and mental distress.

Selective mutism

This is a failure to speak in specific situations, such as work or school, even when you can speak in other situations where you feel yourself to be at ease, such as at home and with close family members. This can interfere with social functioning and is usually observed to occur from early childhood.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by the state of being in an excessively fearful or anxious situation about separation from those with whom you are attached. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and separation anxiety often develop in childhood but can persist through adulthood. Anxiety Disorder symptoms include nightmares of being abandoned or being left behind by the crowd.

Phobias

A phobia is an excessive and undying fear of a specific situation, activity, or object that is usually not dangerous. You might be aware of the fact that your fear is irrational, but you are not able to control it. Examples include hydrophobia (fear of water), metathesiophobia (fear of change) and homophobia (fear of blood), etc.

Agoraphobia

This type of anxiety disorder is when you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel stuck, abandoned, or ashamed. Examples include the fear of using public transportation, being in enclosed places, and fear of leaving your home. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

It is commonly known as a social type of phobia and involves high levels of fear, anxiety, and escaping from social gatherings due to feelings of humiliation, self-consciousness, and concern about being judged or perceived negatively by others.

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What are the causes of anxiety?

The intrinsic causes of anxiety disorders are not fully understood. Life experiences such as stressful events seem to cause anxiety disorders in people who are already predisposed to anxiety. Hereditary characters also can be a cause.

Factors such as environmental conditions, family environment, brain biology and chemistry, stress, and your environment are also observed to play a major role. Commonly seen examples are:
⦁ Stress at school
⦁ Stress at work
⦁ Natural disasters
⦁ Financial issues
⦁ Emotional trauma e.g. death of a loved one
⦁ Stress from a medical issue
⦁ Relationship issues
⦁ Side effect of medicines
⦁ Drug addiction
⦁ Family problems etc.

What are the complications of anxiety?

⦁ Chronic stress
⦁ Depression
⦁ Drug abuse
⦁ Social isolation
⦁ Negative behaviors
⦁ Overthinking
⦁ Decreased performance at work
⦁ Suicidal tendency

What are the conditions related to Anxiety?

⦁ Acute traumatic stress disorder
⦁ Posttraumatic stress disorder
⦁ Obsessive-compulsive disorder
⦁ Adjustment disorder
⦁ Decision-making difficulties
⦁ Confusion

Signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression

The different types of anxiety disorders can have different symptoms of anxiety disorder and depression, but they all will have a combination of the following:

  •    Physical symptoms:
    ⦁ Restlessness
    ⦁ Higher breathing rate
    ⦁ Higher heart rate
    ⦁ Fatigue
    ⦁ Sleep disturbance
    ⦁ Trembling of limbs
    ⦁ Stomach problems
    ⦁ Sweating
    Psychological Anxiety Symptoms:
    ⦁ Poor concentration
    ⦁ Noise sensitivity
    ⦁ Depersonalization
    ⦁ Obsession
    ⦁ Irritability
    ⦁ Inability to control anxious thoughts
    ⦁ Nervousness
    ⦁ Avoidance behavior for the triggers of stress
    ⦁ Intuition of danger
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What are the risk factors for anxiety?

Suffering From a Trauma: Kids who suffered trauma or watched traumatic occasions are at higher risk of getting an anxiety disorder. Likewise, adults who go through a traumatic event can develop anxiety disorders too.
Stress Due to Health Issues: Having a serious illness can lead to stress about the concerns related to the anxiety disorder treatment and your future.
Stressful Events: A big stressful event or a buildup of smaller stressful situations of life may generate excessive anxiety.
Personality Type. People with certain personality types e.g. introverts are more susceptible to get anxiety issues.
Mental Health Issues. People with mental health issues, like depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.
Family History. Anxiety disorders do run in families, if a parent or a close relative has anxiety disorder you are more prone to develop the condition.
Use of Illicit Drugs: misuse of drugs or alcohol or withdrawal can aggravate anxiety.

Treatment of Anxiety

Anxiety Disorder Treatments

Psychotherapy:

Seeking assistance from a mental health care professional can help with reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety Disorder treatment is focused on exploring the triggers and thought processes that cause anxiety, learning when anxiety is increasing, and how to decrease anxiety disorder symptoms using various cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. 

Medications:

If anxiety is moderate to severe and impacting your functioning, medications may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are different types of medicines to treat anxiety disorders which include anti-anxiety medicines and certain antidepressants i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are generally considered first-line therapy for anxiety, Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are also used to treat anxiety, and other medicines such as beta-blockers are used to treat hypertension related to anxiety may be used accordingly.