Anxiety

1 What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness about some stressful situation in life. It is normal for people to have anxiety at some point of life. Patients with anxiety disorder have anxiety for a longer duration and is not related to unusual or challenging situation. 

People with anxiety condition have intense and consistent fear or worry about normal situations in life. The feeling of unease is so intense that it often affects their daily activities. They often have frequent anxiety attacks which appear suddenly and reach a climax within few minutes. 

DepressionvsAnxiety

Symptoms of anxiety disorder appear during childhood and continues in adulthood. There are different types of anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, or social anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medications.

2 Symptoms

Some of the common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder are:

  • Feeling uncomfortable, tense, or restless
  • Sense of danger
  • Increased heartrate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Weakness 
  • Difficulty in concentrating on anything other than the present worry
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Tummy troubles
  • Persistent worry
  • Avoiding things or situations that trigger anxiety

Symptoms of different types of anxiety disorder are: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – this type is characterized by excessive worry about certain activities. Patients may feel constantly on the edge, have difficulty in concentrating, and is irritable. They may also have dizziness, excessive sweating, abdominal pain, difficulty in breathing, headache, trembling, or shaking. 
  • Panic disorder – this type is characterized by sudden feeling of uneasiness which peaks within few minutes. They complain of chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and feeling of impending danger. Patients with panic disorder often avoid situations that may trigger panic. 
  • Separation anxiety disorder – this is seen in children who are anxious about separation from parents or others who are close to them. 
  • Social phobia – patients with social phobia often avoid social situations as they have intense anxiety and fear of social situations. They are either embarrassed or overly conscious about being not accepted by others. 
  • Phobias – phobias are characterized by intense fear of some specific object or a situation. Phobias may trigger panic attacks in some people. 
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder – this disorder is caused by substance like drugs, medications, or a toxic substance.
  • Agoraphobia – this is type of anxiety disorder in which you fear certain situations in which you feel trapped. 

3 Causes

The actual cause of anxiety disorder is not known. Many traumatic events are implied in the development of panic attack, particularly in people who have a high risk of anxiety. In some people anxiety disorder is caused by an underlying condition. 

Heart disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, respiratory disorders, drug abuse, alcohol withdrawal, and irritable bowel syndrome are all known to trigger anxiety. Certain medications cause anxiety disorder. Some factors that increase the chance of anxiety attack include: 

  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Personality 
  • Mental health disorders
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Substance abuse

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of anxiety is done during physical examination, which helps to rule out chances of any underlying conditions that result in anxiety. Severe anxiety is diagnosed by mental health specialist. Psychological evaluation helps to analyze the patient’s thoughts, behavior, and feelings. 

The diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorder include: 

  • Worrying persistently about daily activities including work and social life
  • Worries or fear that is very stressful and upsetting
  • Fear of impending danger
  • Uncontrollable sense of fear
  • Feeling of unease that is persistent for last six months or more

5 Treatment

Psychotherapy and medications are the treatment strategies for anxiety disorder. In most cases, a combination of the two methods is used. Psychotherapy or talk therapy is considered to be an effective way to control symptoms of anxiety. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy which teaches skills for improving symptoms of anxiety. This helps the person to return to normalcy. In one of the steps, the person is exposed to the trigger gradually. 

Gradual exposure aids in developing confidence to manage the symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and some sedatives are prescribed to relieve the symptoms of anxiety.

6 Prevention

As the exact cause of anxiety is not known it is hard to prevent anxiety disorder. Anxiety attacks can be prevented by reducing caffeine-containing foods like coffee, cola, and chocolate.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative and homeopathic remedies exist for anxiety disorder.

Aconite napellus (Acon.), Argentum nitricum, Arsenicum album (Ars.), Calcarea carbonica (Calc.), Gelsemium sempervirens (Gels.), Kali arsenicosum (Kali-ar.), Kali phosphoricum (Kali-p.), and Lycopodium clavatum are recommended in homeopathy for controlling symptoms of anxiety and to calm the mind. Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) and Piper methysticum (kava) are suggested for anxiety and depression.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle changes are very important in reducing symptoms of panic attack and anxiety. Regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake, quitting smoking, managing stress, good sleep, and healthy diet help to keep mind calm. 

Learning more about the disorder help you to look for the right support. Being consistent with the treatment methods is effective in controlling the symptoms and preventing attacks. Joining a support group helps in discussing experiences and understanding the situation better.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder may lead to depression, substance abuse, insomnia, headaches, social isolation, poor relationships, self-destructive thoughts, and poor quality of life.

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