“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere”.
Anxiety is a normal part of life. When an individual is faced with uncertainties, challenges, adversities, fears or they are about to begin something new, they are bound to feel anxious. The anxiety we feel in such situations is momentary and it will fade away once the situation has been taken care of or one is distracted. Anxiety is an important part of life; in fact, it is the body’s normal reaction to a stressful situation or to danger.
Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 per cent of adults at some point in their lives. For people suffering from an anxiety disorder, the worry or anxiety is not a temporary feat when left untreated, the anxiety can increase over a period of time. When an individual has anxiety, his/ her daily life is interrupted, so much so that their performance at work, school, everyday tasks and relationships can get affected.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY DISORDER:
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:·
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense·
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
- Having an increased heart rate.
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation).
- Feeling weak or tired.
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
- Having difficulty controlling worry.
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS:
There are several types of anxiety disorders:
- Agoraphobia: A type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: A persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
- Panic disorder: Repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they've occurred.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): Involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
- Selective mutism: A consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
- Separation anxiety disorder: A childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that's excessive for the child's developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition: Symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
- Specific phobias: Characterized by major anxiety when you're exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder: Characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
- Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder: Terms for anxiety or phobias that don't meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
CAUSES OF ANXIETY DISORDER:·
- Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Medical Conditions: Anxiety can be related to an underlying medical condition as well. Health problems like heart disease, thyroid, diabetes, blood pressure, substance abuse, chronic pain, respiratory disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Trauma: It is likely that children or adults, who have gone through a traumatic experience in the present or in the past, can develop an anxiety disorder.
- Stress: Any kind of stress in one’s life can also lead to anxiety disorder. Stress about certain life events, health condition, death in the family, financial problems, interpersonal relations or environmental problems are some kinds of sources of stress that can lead to Anxiety disorder.
- Substance Abuse: Alcohol or drug use or misuse can either lead to or increase anxiety in certain individuals.
- Aches and pains.
- Substance abuse.
- Sleep related problems.
- Poor quality of life.
- Difficulties in school, work or during everyday tasks.
- Social isolation, keeping others at a distance.
- Digestive or bowel problems.
TREATMENT OF ANXIETY DISORDER:
PSYCHOTHERAPY: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapies when it comes to anxiety. CBT focuses on the thoughts that are intensified when people undergo anxiety. At these times, individuals are plagued with negative thoughts of worst-case scenarios, harm, health, death, loss, etc, these thoughts are mainly irrational as they may not have any logical proof for them to be true but to a person who is undergoing anxiety, these thoughts are not only true but a likely outcome and this tends to increase one’s anxiety. CBT helps the individual to learn to think in a more rational manner, deal with anxiety-provoking thoughts and learn to cope with and handle such situations in a much healthier manner.
MEDICATION: There are various kinds of medications prescribed depending on the presenting symptoms of the individual. Usually, the medicines are prescribed fora short period of time and they may not be continued for a long. There are certain cases, however, where, if the anxiety is chronic or there are other underlying mental health disorders involved, then medicines may tend to continue for a longer time, which would be up to your Psychiatrist’s discretion.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:
- Physical exercise is a must: Physical exercise helps one to deal with stress in a constructive manner. Incorporating exercise into your daily schedule helps with one’s mood as well. Starting with 30 minutes of any kind of exercise for 4-5 days and increasing the amount of time gradually would be best.
- A healthy appetite goes a long way: Anxiety can lead to a lot of stress and in these times having healthy and wholesome food will help in keeping up one’s mood and energy.
- Alcohol and drugs are a big NO: Substances like alcohol and drugs tend to alleviate anxiety and can prove to be detrimental in such cases and avoiding them is the best way forward.
- Learn about your disorder: Gaining knowledge about what you are going through also helps to deal with it in a better way.
- Cut down on cigarettes and caffeine: Cigarettes and caffeine can also prove to be anxiety provoking, cutting back and eventually limiting yourself would help.
- Relation techniques, stress management and meditation: Relaxation techniques and stress management techniques work very well in dealing with anxiety. Meditation also does help. It is also important to understand that initially, these techniques may not be extremely effective because the anxiety is high and one is plagued with anxiety related negative thoughts, so it is best to give yourself time to deal with the thoughts while being persistent with these techniques.
- Sleep works wonders: When it comes to stress, it is not only important to eat well, but also sleep well. Getting the optimum amount of sleep will help you feel relaxed and refreshed.
- Trust you Psychiatrist or Psychologist and follow the treatment plan: Any kind of treatment requires some amount of time to show its effect, so trust your psychiatrist or Psychologist and commit to the treatment plan.
- Social support helps: Meeting friends, being around people that you love would also eventually help in uplifting your mood.
- Be persistent when it comes to dealing with your negative thoughts: Negative thoughts are a part and parcel of anxiety, it is important to deal with them in a healthy manner. These thoughts are quite strong and may require a lot of effort to deal with them, so be persistent.
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joys” – Leo Buscaglia.
“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained” – Arthur Somers Roche.