We all experience anxiety. It’s the body’s natural reaction to stress, especially emotional stress. Anxiety can be caused by things like: moving into a new neighborhood, first day at school, taking a test, giving a speech, the list is endless. Getting anxious by stuff like this is perfectly normal however, it becomes a disorder when it becomes extreme.
What is anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorder is an extreme case of anxiety and it is a type of mental health condition. As earlier mentioned, feeling anxious is a normal reaction of the body to stress, the feeling can make one very uncomfortable and distressed but it is often short-lived. Also, it doesn’t interfere or affect one’s life.
Anxiety disorder on the other hand affects everything someone suffering from it does on a daily basis. A patient of this illness is in a constant state of fear and dread. The feeling sucks out every energy in a person’s body leaving the person looking lost and tired of life.
Extreme cases of this condition may stop one from doing regular activities such as riding a bike, crossing the street, using an elevator, or even getting out of bed. It totally debilitates the patient. People who have experiences similar to those mentioned above should reach out to anxiety help institutions and professionals to begin immediate treatment before the condition worsens.
Causes of anxiety disorder
A number of things can trigger this medical condition. Although the causes aren’t fully understood, there have been some common triggers in people that suffer from the condition. A few of them include:
- Environmental stress: This includes stress from work, taking care of the home, struggling through college and so on.
- Drug abuse or withdrawal: It’s been found that many people that suffer from this condition abuse substance and alcohol. Also, people who exhibit symptoms of the illness are prescribed certain medications. When such people withdraw from the use of those drugs, the eventually suffer anxiety disorder.
- Other mental health conditions: People who suffer other health conditions like depression often end up having anxiety disorder.
- Abuse: Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse have been identified to be some of the factors of the mental illness.
- Genetics: The condition can run in a family.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions have been found to trigger this mental illness.
- Low self esteem and shyness: People who lack self confidence suffer this disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder
Extreme fear and worry are the main symptoms of this disorder. Other common symptoms are:
- Frequent dizziness
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Cold hands
- Tense muscles
Types of Anxiety Disorder
1. Social anxiety disorder: Often referred to as social phobia, this is when a person is overly conscious and worried about people’s perception of them. They fear being judged, ridiculed or embarrassed.
2. Panic disorder: This is a recurring, sudden fear that results in panic. It is usually accompanied by throbbing heart beats, profuse sweating, chest pain, short breath, and dizziness.
3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): It is characterized by repetitive behaviors called “compulsions” and recurrent unwanted thoughts called “obsessions”. People who suffer this condition repeatedly carry out activities to get their minds of the thoughts they obsess over. When these repetitive activities aren’t carried out, their anxiety increases tremendously.
4. Generalized anxiety disorder: This type involves feeling excessive tension and worry for no reason.
5. Phobia: This anxiety disorder involves feeling intense dread and fear for a particular object, or situation. Common phobias are the fear of heights (acrophobia), the fear of being in dark (nyctophobia), the fear of being in confined spaces (claustrophobia), and the fear of flying (aerophobia). Click here to learn more about phobias.
6. Illness anxiety disorder: This used to be known as hypochondria. It the feeling of excessive worry about one’s health.
7. Separation anxiety disorder: This is the fear of being away from home or a loved one.
8. Selective mutism: A disorder where little kids who are capable of speaking are unable to do so in public places.
Is there a difference between anxiety and panic attacks?
The short answer is yes, there is a difference. Although people use them interchangeably, they have a slight difference. Panic disorders are sudden and involve an overwhelming fear. People who have suffered panic attacks report having shortness of breath, a pounding heartbeat, and nausea. With panic attacks there is often no obvious cause.
Anxiety attacks on the other hand are built up slowly. Take for instance, Jason. Jason is shy and has a low self-esteem. He was recently nominated by his colleagues at work to give a speech in a few days’ time, at a conference that over two thousand people would be attending. As the event draws closer, Jason will become more and more anxious, and may finally suffer an attack or before the day of the conference. Both attacks are different however, they share a similar trait- an unpleasant experience.
How is anxiety diagnosed?
Unlike most medical conditions, the diagnosis of this condition is not straightforward. This is because it is not caused by a germ or an infection, rather a series of events may lead to it. To diagnose this condition, the patient must undergo a complete physical examination.
Through this process, other illnesses that may be responsible for the experienced issues are discovered or ruled out. Your doctor may suggest that you take a psychological assessment to decide if you are actually suffering from the illness or just reacting to a current situation.
Other anxiety-related tests include:
- Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
- Hamilton anxiety Scale (HAM-A)
- Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS)
- Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN)
Treatment of anxiety disorder
Once a person has been confirmed to have this mental condition, a treatment type is decided based on the severity of the condition. Treatment for this condition is divided into two: medication and psychotherapy. People with a less severe case of this disorder may be treated through natural means like:
- Working out and being physically active
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying away from alcohol and other substances that can be abused
- Eating healthy, and;
For more severe cases, medication or psychotherapy, and sometimes both are employed.
This mental condition cannot be cured with medication. However, it does help to improve the symptoms, enabling the patient function better. Common medications used are:
- Anti-depressants: These help to balance the patients’ brain chemistry, reduce stress, and improve mood. Patients should be patient when taking these drugs, as it may take a while before their effect is felt.
- Anti-anxiety medications: Unlike anti-depressants, the effect of these drugs can be felt quickly. They help to reduce worry and panic. The downside to these drugs is that the body builds a tolerance to them over time. When this happens, your doctor may prescribe anti-depressants to be taken along with them.
- Beta blockers: Predominantly used in the treatment of high blood pressure, these drugs can also be used to treat anxiety disorder.
Visit https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326397 to learn more about beta-blockers.
Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods in the treatment of certain illnesses that are associated with the mind and mental health. Psychotherapeutic methods of treatment are:
- Exposure therapy: This is a “face your fear” type treatment in which the patient is exposed to the situations that trigger the anxiety without the intention of causing any danger.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is the most common method of psychotherapy used in the treatment of this mental condition. In this method, the patient is trained to recognize behaviors and thoughts that lead to them feeling anxious. Once this process is done, the patient works on altering them.
A lot of people struggle with this condition but unfortunately most refuse to seek medical help, thinking it can be overcome by will or that it would disappear over time. It should be brought to everyone’s attention that this condition only gets worse when treatment is neglected. In extreme cases, this disorder may lead to increased blood pressure which is a prevalent symptom of stroke. People who are yet to begin treatment are advised to do so before the condition worsens.