“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
This quote holds a lot of meaning when it comes to anxiety. It’s not about changing what comes to you but always about how you react to it.
What is the meaning of anxiety?
Anxiety (एंग्जाइटी in Hindi) is a feeling of fear of what’s to come. It is a normal, healthy emotion and it is your body’s natural response to stress.
Anxiety is something that you may experience daily. It is an emotion that comes and goes, and it usually does not interfere with your everyday life.
However, when you feel constant disproportionate stress or anxiety levels, it can be considered a medical disorder.
What is an anxiety disorder?
In the case of an anxiety disorder, this feeling of fear becomes constant and starts affecting your daily activities. This disorder can stop you from doing things that you usually enjoy doing.
You will find it difficult to perform simple daily tasks such as buying groceries, crossing the road, or even getting out of your house.
Know that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Hormonal changes are believed to play a role in why women are more vulnerable to anxiety than men.
What are the different types of anxiety disorder?
Common types of anxiety disorders include:
Generalized anxiety disorder. A long-lasting condition with a constant fear of non-specific life events.
Panic disorder. A condition where there are sudden panic attacks at unexpected times.
Phobia. It is the fear of a particular object, activity, or situation.
Social anxiety disorder. The fear of being judged in social situations.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder. A condition where irrational thoughts lead to abnormal behaviour.
Types of anxiety/anxiety disorders that are unique to women include the following:
- Anxiety during puberty. Adolescent girls are more likely to develop anxiety during this developmental phase than their male counterparts.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Around 5% of the women in their childbearing age suffer from PMDD during the first few days of their menstruation.
- Prenatal anxiety. Some women experience anxiety during their pregnancy which is marked by significant hormonal changes.
- Postpartum anxiety. Around 10% of women experience postpartum anxiety as they try coping with the challenges of being a new mother.
- Anxiety during menopause. Like puberty, menopause is another time period when women undergo hormonal changes that put them at the risk of developing anxiety.
What causes anxiety?
Researchers have not been able to identify a specific cause for anxiety.
It is believed to occur as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors:
Genetic. If anxiety disorders run in your family, then you are at an increased risk of having anxiety often.
Environmental stress. Stressful events that you have lived through such as childhood abuse or neglect, death of a loved one, or any other trauma can increase the chances of emotional disorders.
Certain medical conditions. Anxiety can be linked to an underlying medical condition and vice versa. Medical conditions linked to anxiety include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, respiratory disorders, etc.
Drug withdrawal or misuse. Withdrawal refers to a set of effects related to stopping the use of an addictive substance such as alcohol and recreational drugs. Anxiety can occur as a result of stopping or limiting a substance that creates a dependency.
Brain chemistry. An imbalance in neurotransmitters (body's chemical messengers) can lead to emotional disorders such as anxiety.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety differ according to their type.
The symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often includes the following:
Being restless or having a feeling of being on the edge
An uncontrollable fear or a constant worry about something
An increased heart rate and shortness of breath
Trouble concentrating or diverting your attention from the reason of fear
Sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling asleep or staying asleep
Increased irritability or distress
Chills or hot flashes
How to deal with anxiety?
If you feel that your anxiety is taking a toll on your everyday life, it's a sign that you need help.
Treatment of anxiety disorders is easier if started early.
Psychotherapy. It is otherwise known as talk therapy and is the first treatment option for most emotional disorders. It aims at managing the symptoms of anxiety and helps you cope with everyday life.
Medications. There are several types of medications that are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. These include:
Benzodiazepines (a group of psychoactive drugs that act on your central nervous system)
Beta-blockers (medications that help reduce blood pressure)
Antipsychotics (mood-stabilizing medications)
Lifestyle changes. Make sure to stay physically active, eat healthy nutritious food, and get good sleep. Avoid the use of alcohol and recreational drugs. Quit smoking and cut back on caffeinated beverages.
Knowing the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder will help you identify the symptoms at an early stage and get appropriate treatment.
1. Topics, H., 2021. Anxiety: MedlinePlus. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: <https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
2. Psychiatry.org. 2021. What Are Anxiety Disorders?. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders> [Accessed 18 July 2021].
Disclaimer: This article is written by Practo for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.