It’s common to have uneasiness every now and then. However, strong, excessive, and persistent worry and panic over commonplace, circumstances are typically experienced by those with anxiety disorders. Panic attacks, which are abrupt, strong emotions of fear or terror that peak within minutes, are frequent symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Daily tasks are complicated, difficult to control, out of proportion to the actual threat, and long-lasting by these sensations of anxiety and panic. To stop these feelings, you could avoid certain locations or circumstances. Children or teenagers may first have symptoms, which may then last until adulthood.
Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), individual phobias, and separation anxiety disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders. There are various types of anxiety disorders. There are situations when anxiety is a symptom of a disease that requires care.
Excessive fear, worry, and behavioural abnormalities are hallmarks of anxiety disorders. The symptoms are strong enough to cause significant anguish or functional impairment.
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
- Agoraphobia is 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.
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
- Generalized anxiety disorder includes 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 involves 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.
- Selective mutism is 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 is 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.
- 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.
- Specific phobias are 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 is 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 are 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
Some causes of anxiety disorders are:
- Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Brain chemistry. Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.
- Environmental stress. This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse. Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
- Medical conditions. Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. It’s important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.
Psychotherapy, medicine, or a combination of the two are typically used to treat anxiety disorders. There are numerous treatments for anxiety, so you should consult a healthcare professional to determine which one is best for you.
People with anxiety disorders can benefit from psychotherapy or “talk therapy.” Psychotherapy needs to be personalised for you in order to address your unique fears and meet your needs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
One sort of psychotherapy that can benefit those with anxiety issues is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It teaches people various ways of thinking, acting, and responding to circumstances to lessen anxiety and fear. CBT is the industry standard for psychotherapy and has undergone extensive research.
A CBT technique used to treat anxiety disorders is exposure therapy. In order to help patients engage in activities they have been avoiding, exposure therapy focuses on facing the concerns at the root of an anxiety disorder. Sometimes exposure therapy is combined with relaxing techniques.
Acceptance and commitment therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an additional therapeutic option for some anxiety disorders. In contrast to CBT, ACT approaches negative ideas differently. In order to lessen discomfort and anxiety, it employs techniques including goal-setting and mindfulness. Because ACT is a more recent type of psychotherapy than CBT, there are less studies evaluating its efficacy.
Although it cannot treat anxiety disorders, medication can aid with symptom relief. A psychiatrist or primary care physician, for example, can recommend an anxiety drug. In some states, psychologists with specialised training are also permitted to write psychiatric prescriptions. Antidepressants, anxiety meds (such benzodiazepines), and beta-blockers are the three main groups of drugs used to treat anxiety disorders.
In addition to being used to treat anxiety disorders, antidepressants are used to treat depression. They might enhance how your brain employs specific hormones that regulate stress or mood. Before you find an antidepressant that reduces your symptoms and has tolerable side effects, you may need to try a few different ones.
Before drawing any conclusions regarding an antidepressant’s efficacy, it’s vital to give the prescription a chance to work for a few weeks. Do not discontinue taking antidepressants after you start taking them without consulting a healthcare professional. Your doctor can assist you in gradually and securely lowering your dosage. A sudden stop can result in withdrawal symptoms.
Children, teenagers, and people under the age of 25 may occasionally exhibit more suicidal thoughts or actions when taking antidepressants, particularly in the first few weeks or when the dose is altered. As a result, antidepressant users of all ages should be properly monitored, particularly in the initial weeks of therapy.
Anti-anxiety drugs can aid in easing the effects of anxiety, panic attacks, or extremely high levels of fear and worry. The term “benzodiazepines” refers to the most popular class of anti-anxiety drugs. Benzodiazepines have advantages and disadvantages, even though they are occasionally employed as first-line therapies for generalised anxiety disorder.
Antidepressant drugs take longer to work than benzodiazepines do at reducing anxiety. But some people develop a tolerance to these drugs and require increasing doses to achieve the same results. Some even start to depend on them.
Health care professionals typically recommend benzodiazepines for brief periods of time to prevent these issues.
People who stop using benzodiazepines abruptly may have withdrawal symptoms or experience a return of their anxiety. Benzodiazepines should therefore be weaned off gradually. Your doctor can assist you in gradually and securely lowering your dosage.
Beta-blockers can help with the physical signs of anxiety, such as a rapid heartbeat, shivering, trembling, and blushing, even though they are most frequently used to treat high blood pressure. When administered for brief durations, these drugs can help people keep physical symptoms under control. They can also be administered “as needed” to stop some predicted types of performance anxiety as well as to lessen acute anxiety.
Choosing the right medication
People should work closely with a healthcare professional to determine which medicine is appropriate for them because some types of pharmaceuticals may work better for particular types of anxiety disorders. The symptoms of anxiety disorders may be made worse by some substances, including caffeine, some over-the-counter cold remedies, illegal narcotics, and herbal supplements, or they may interact negatively with prescription pharmaceuticals. People should see a healthcare professional to find out which substances are safe and which ones they should avoid.
A person’s needs and their medical status should be taken into consideration while selecting the appropriate medicine, medication dose, and treatment strategy. Before settling on the ideal medication, you and your doctor may try a few.
A self-help or support group can help some persons with anxiety disorders by allowing them to share their challenges and triumphs with others. Support groups can be found online and in person. Any recommendations you get from a support group member, though, should be used with caution and should not take the place of treatment suggestions from a healthcare professional.