The world is filled with mental and physical agonies.
People fear or get worried over current and future concerns. This exposes the body to stress.
Anxiety is the normal body reaction to stress. However, when anxiety is persistent and recurring and affects the individual’s performance on a daily basis, it becomes a mental disorder. Below are things you should know about anxiety disorders
1. What is anxiety disorder?
This is the most common mental disorder affecting about 30% adults at some point in their lives. It involves excessive and persistent worry and fear that usually hinders the individual ability to function. It is characterized by muscle tension and avoidance behavior. According to American Psychological Association “People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns and tend to avoid certain situations out of worry”. To be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the person’s fear must be out of proportion to what triggers it. Also, his or her ability to function would be impaired as a result of this emotion.
2. Symptoms of anxiety disorder
Symptoms vary from one individual to another. Nevertheless, the most commonly experienced symptoms include;
- Feelings of nervousness
- Increased muscle tension
- Chest tightness
- Excessive and recurrent worry
3. Causes of anxiety disorder
Though the causes of anxiety disorders have not been specifically outlined, research has showed that anxiety could be linked to the following…
Genetics – The traits responsible for anxiety can be passed on through the family line. These inherited traits become responsible for the manifestation of anxiety disorders in the humans involved.
Substance use/Misuse– Some substance such as alcohol or caffeine use can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety can also be an aftermath effect of the abrupt withdrawal of certain drugs like the benzodiazepines.
Stressful events– Traumatic events like the death of a loved one, sexual abuse, serious illness and exposure to domestic violence can leave someone feeling worried over time. This feeling if not properly checked can predispose one to severe anxiety disorders.
Medical conditions– Some medical conditions can be linked to anxiety. Health issues such as over reactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain and tumors. People with these conditions usually come down with anxiety.
4. Types of anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder- This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. People with this type of anxiety find themselves worrying over events surrounding their lives. This makes them underperform as they find it difficult to scale through their daily activities. Women tend to experience this type of anxiety more than men. This could be hormonally related as research has shown that testosterone in men helps to ease anxiety.
Panic attack– This is characterized by intense fear with symptoms developing abruptly and peaking rapidly. Here, the body’s normal response to stress becomes intensified. Symptoms include a pounding heart, discomfort in breathing, the feeling of fainting, chest tightness, sweating and shaky limbs. Symptoms can be so severe that the person experiencing this attack might think they would die.
Post traumatic stress disorder- This is triggered by highly stressful events and accompanied by emotional and physical reaction to the trigger. Triggers usually involve events outside everyday experience such as physical violence, military combat, or a natural disaster. The individual with this type of anxiety often experience depression, recurrent nightmares, and usually avoid anything that would trigger memories of the event.
Obsessive compulsive disorder– This is characterized by obsessive thoughts to do something. These thoughts are distressing and don’t go away until the person out of compulsion does what he or she has in mind. This provides a temporary relief for the person. Obsessive compulsive disorder can be mild or severe and if left untreated can impair an individual ability to function.
Specific phobia-This is an intense fear that can be linked to a specific cause. This fear is difficult to control and get rid of. It can be caused by objects or situations that pose little or no danger. When exposed to these objects or situations, the person involved is left to endure anxiety or tend to avoid the trigger completely.
5. How is anxiety disorder diagnosed?
When experiencing anxiety, it is advised you see a mental health professional. To diagnose anxiety disorder, the mental health professional will do some physical examination. He may also run some text to rule out any medical condition causing the anxiety.
6. Treatment of anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorders just like every other ailment can be properly treated when diagnosed. The two major approach employed in the treatment of anxiety involve the use of medications and psychotherapy. Medications tend to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and help the person function well. Medications used include the anti-anxiety medications such as the benzodiazepines which help to reduce worry and panic. Also, Antidepressants are used to reduce anxiety symptoms although their effect may take a longer time to manifest. In addition, Beta-blockers are used to relieve symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, trembling and shaking.
On the other hand, psychotherapy involves counseling which helps the individual deal with the emotional response to the triggers. Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common type of psychotherapy employed. This involves enlightening the person on how to recognize the thought patterns that leads to anxiety and working on changing them. This in turn helps to improve their quality of life.
Hubcare Health has experience mental health practitioners that can help you to treat anxiety and depression.
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