It is not uncommon for a person to get a bit anxious occasionally. Anxiety is a perfectly reasonable reaction to stressful scenarios. People tend to feel anxious if they are having a problem at work, during a test, or before a big date. Even making a small decision can cause a bit of anxiety. But there’s a big difference between feeling anxious when you’re stressed out and an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can be so severe that they impede the day to day functions of people who suffer from them. In the mental health profession, an anxiety disorder is considered to be a serious mental illness. The fear and worry that a person can feel can be constant and it can be so severe that it can be disabling. Luckily, with treatment, a person with this condition can overcome the disorder and live a normal life.
The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are a few different types of anxiety disorders. Each brings on certain symptoms for different reasons.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This type of anxiety causes worry and tension for no apparent reason. In most cases, there is little or no reason for the attack to come on.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
This type of anxiety occurs when people are in social situations. They often feel like they are being judged by others about the way that they look or the way that they behave. Their intense worry that they will do something to embarrass themselves or that people may ridicule them makes them unwilling to have a social life.
- Panic Disorder
This type of anxiety can strike at any time and it can cause feelings of intense fear and terror without any warning. People who have a panic disorder often describe their panic attacks as feeling as though they are having a heart attack. The symptoms can be very severe and can make everyday life very difficult.
There are several phobias that can lead to intense fear and the phobia can cause the person to avoid everyday situations. Some of the most common phobias include a fear of heights, a fear of flying, and even a fear of small spaces. Some people have strange phobias, such as a fear of spiders, a fear of clowns, and a fear of the dark. Many people have minor phobias which is normal, however, there are some people who have phobias that are so severe that it can have a serious effect on their everyday life.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Each type of anxiety disorder exhibits different symptoms at different degrees. There are, however, several general symptoms of anxiety.
- Feelings of fear, panic, and uneasiness
- Cold, numb, or sweaty hands and feet
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Tension in the muscles
- The inability to sit still
What Are the Causes of Anxiety
There is no particular cause of anxiety. However, there have been a variety of studies which have discovered a variety of reasons that a person can suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- One of these studies have shown that there could be a disorder in the neural pathways that regulate panic and fear which leads to feelings of anxiety.
- There is another study that has shown that if a person has been suffering from severe or long-term stress can develop problems in their brain. The way that the nerve cells transmit information can be blocked due to extreme stress.
- Another study has shown that a person with anxiety could also have a disorder in the brain structure that controls memories and links them to strong emotions, leading to a panic attack.
- There have also been several studies that have shown that anxiety disorders can be an inherited condition. If a person’s mother or father suffers from an anxiety disorder, they could suffer from one themselves.
- Certain factors such as a significant event or trauma can have a great deal to do with developing an anxiety disorder.
Diagnosing Anxiety Disorders
If a person believes that they have an anxiety disorder, the doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. Before the doctor will diagnose the patient with an anxiety disorder, they will run tests to determine if there is another underlying cause of the symptoms. If the doctor cannot find a medical reason for the symptoms, they would be referred to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
When the person sees a mental health professional, they would be asked a variety of questions, such as what they were doing when the symptoms began, questions about the person’s past, questions about their current living conditions, and finally, they would observe the person’s attitude and behavior during the interview. The doctor would use this information to determine whether or not the person is suffering from some type of anxiety disorder, and which type they have.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Over the past twenty years, there has been a great deal of progress made in the treatment of mental illness, including anxiety disorder. The exact treatment plan would depend on the patient, the type of anxiety disorder that they have, and the severity of their symptoms. In many cases, the doctor will recommend more than one of the treatments available.
Medication is a very common treatment for anxiety disorders. There are several effective medications such as antidepressants, low-dose antipsychotics, certain anticonvulsant medications, and anxiety reducing drugs. In many cases, the doctor will try different medications and different dosages until they find the right treatment for the patient. If the individual is patient and willing to try, medication can give them their life back.
Psychotherapy is a type of counseling where the patient would sit down with a mental health professional so that they can learn to deal with their condition and to learn coping mechanisms.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is a form of therapy where the patient learns to recognize the thought patterns that can bring on the troublesome feelings. They will also work through the issues in their past with their therapist so that they can get to the root of the problems that could be causing their anxiety in the first place.
- Lifestyle Changes
There are certain lifestyle changes that can help with an anxiety disorder. For example, alcohol and drug use can make anxiety disorders much worse. If the person were to cut these things out of their life, they should start to notice some relief.
- Relaxation Therapy
One of the best treatments for anxiety is to just relax. This is not something that happens naturally. It can take a person a long time to learn to relax when they are in the middle of an anxiety attack. In some cases, relaxation therapy is an excellent coping method during a panic attack.
Anxiety disorders can have a debilitating effect on a person’s life. Some people have an anxiety disorder that is so severe that they cannot even leave the house without having a panic attack. Some people become paralyzed when certain triggers set off their anxiety. The sooner the individual seeks treatment from a mental health professional, the sooner they will be able to start living a more normal, healthier life.