What does anxiety mean? What is anxiety disorder? Why does it happen? What are the symptoms? Is there a treatment? Do drugs work? What can we do to make it pass? What is good for anxiety? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety means anxiety . Anxiety is a normal response to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can warn us of dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. In anxiety attacks, your breathing may increase, your heart may start to beat fast, you may feel tightness in your stomach and you may experience a burst of energy.

What is anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorder is different from normal feelings of worry or anxiety and involves extreme fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorder is the most common of the mental disorders, affecting about 30% of adults at some point in their lives. However, anxiety disorders are treatable, and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal and productive lives.

What is an anxiety crisis?

An anxiety attack is a mood state accompanied by intense fear, panic attacks, and anxiety. They usually appear suddenly and without any symptoms. Sometimes, however, there may be an obvious trigger (like being stuck in an elevator or thinking about the big talk you need to have), but other times an anxiety attack comes on suddenly.

An anxiety attack usually peaks within 10 minutes and rarely lasts more than 30 minutes. But during this short time, you may experience such horror that you may feel as though you are about to die or have completely lost control. The physical symptoms are so frightening that many people think they are having a heart attack.

Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • Uncontrollable feeling that something bad will happen
  • Irrational thoughts
  • rapid heart rate
  • tingling sensation in the body
  • A feeling of lightness
  • chest pain
  • excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shake
  • feeling of shortness of breath

Anxiety disorder causes and risk factors

The causes of anxiety disorders are currently unknown, but likely involve a combination of factors such as genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental. Anxiety disorders can be inherited in family members, suggesting that a combination of genes and environmental factors may produce an anxiety disorder.

We can summarize the factors that trigger anxiety disorder under six items:

1- Having psychological problems in the family

Some people with anxiety disorders may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, and these conditions can sometimes occur in common members of a family. However, just because a parent or close relative has anxiety or another mental health condition does not automatically mean that you will develop anxiety.

2- Personality factors

Studies show that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have an anxiety disorder. For example, people who are perfectionists, irritable, shy, lack self-esteem, or want to control everything sometimes develop anxiety disorders in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

3- Experienced stressful events

Anxiety disorder conditions may develop due to one or more stressful life events. Stressful events may be one or more of the following:

  • Job stress or job change
  • Change in living conditions
  • Pregnancy and giving birth
  • family and relationship problems
  • Great emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event
  • Experiencing verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or trauma
  • Death or loss of a loved one

4- Chronic physical conditions

Chronic physical illnesses can also contribute to anxiety disorder and affect the treatment of anxiety or physical illness. Common chronic diseases associated with anxiety states include:

  • diabetes (diabetes)
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease

Some physical illnesses, such as an overactive thyroid, can also mimic an anxiety disorder. It may be helpful to see a doctor and be evaluated to determine if your feelings of anxiety have a medical cause.

5- Other psychological problems

Some people may experience an anxiety disorder per se, while others may experience multiple anxiety states or other mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety conditions often occur together. It is important to check all these conditions at the same time and get help.

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6- Substance use

Some people with anxiety disorders may use alcohol or other illegal drugs to help them manage their condition. In fact, anxiety may occur as a result of the substances used. Alcohol and substance use can exacerbate anxiety attacks, especially as the effects of the substance wear off. In such cases, it is important to stop using substances and seek help.

Anxiety disorder types and symptoms

1- Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worrying that interferes with daily activities. This ongoing anxiety and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as feeling restless, tiring easily, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, or trouble sleeping. Usually, concerns focus on everyday things like work responsibilities, family health, or small matters like housework, car repair, or appointments.

2- Panic attack

The main symptom of a panic attack is recurrent panic attacks, an overwhelming combination of physical and psychological distress. During this attack, several of the following symptoms occur together:

  • Palpitations, heart palpitations, or rapid heart rate
  • Exude
  • Shake
  • Shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed or fainting
  • choking feeling
  • numbness or tingling
  • chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea or stomachaches
  • Fear of losing control
  • fear of dying

Because the symptoms are so severe, many people who have panic attacks may believe they are having a heart attack or other life-threatening illness and go to a hospital emergency room. Panic attacks, such as a reaction to a feared object, can be expected or occur unexpectedly, apparently for no reason. The average age of onset of panic disorder is 22-23. Panic attacks can occur in other mental disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder .

3- Phobiles

A specific phobia is an excessive and persistent fear of a particular object, situation, or activity that is usually not harmful. Patients know that their fear is extreme, but they cannot overcome it. These fears cause so much distress that some people go to extreme lengths to avoid what they fear. Examples include a fear of flying or a fear of spiders ( zoophobia ).

4- Agorafobi

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing, or that help may not be available in the case of panic symptoms. The fear is disproportionate to the actual situation and usually lasts for six months or more and causes problems in daily life. A person with agoraphobia experiences this fear in two or more of the following situations:

  • using public transport
  • be in open spaces
  • to be indoors
  • standing in line or being in a crowd
  • being alone outside the house

The individual actively avoids these situations, needs a companion, or tolerates intense fear or anxiety. Untreated agoraphobia can become so serious that a person may not be able to leave the house. A person can be diagnosed with agoraphobia only if the fear heavily affects or significantly interferes with normal daily activities.

5- Social phobia

A person with social phobia has significant anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, or belittled in social interactions. People with this disorder will try to avoid social situations or endure it with great anxiety. Common examples are extreme fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or eating/drinking in public. Fear and anxiety often cause problems in daily life.

6- Separation anxiety disorder

A person with separation anxiety disorder is extremely afraid or anxious about being separated from their dependants. The emotion is beyond what is appropriate for the person’s age and causes problems in daily life. A person with separation anxiety disorder may worry persistently about losing the person closest to them. They may be reluctant to do what they need to do without them, refuse to go out, refuse to sleep away from home or without that person, and have nightmares about the separation. The physical symptoms of distress usually develop in childhood, but symptoms may persist into adulthood.

Diagnosis of anxiety disorder

If your doctor finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They may use specially designed interview and assessment tools to find out if you have an anxiety disorder.

Your doctor may diagnose an anxiety disorder based on:

  • The symptoms you report, including how intense they are and how long they last
  • Understanding how symptoms affect your daily life
  • Your doctor’s observation of your attitude and behavior

Mental health professionals also refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-5 ). This book is an international reference book for the diagnosis of psychological problems.

anxiety disorder treatment

Anxiety disorders are often treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and people should work with their doctor to choose the treatment that works best for them.

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1- Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with anxiety disorders. For psychotherapy to be effective, it must address the individual’s specific concerns and be tailored to his or her needs.

  • cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an example of a type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting in the face of situations that trigger anxiety in people. Cognitive behavioral therapy, vital for people to treat social anxiety disorder, can also help them learn and practice social skills.

Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are two forms of cognitive behavioral therapy that are often used together or on their own to treat social anxiety disorder. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying, questioning, and then neutralizing the unhealthy or distorted thoughts that underlie anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy focuses on confronting an anxiety disorder’s underlying fears to help people engage in activities they avoid. Exposure therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with relaxation exercises .

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done individually or with a group of people with similar difficulties.

2- Drug therapy

Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it may help relieve symptoms. Anxiety medications are prescribed by a psychiatrist. The most common classes of drugs used to deal with anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

  • Anti-anxiety medications

Anti-anxiety medications; It can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, or extreme fear and anxiety. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines . Although benzodiazepines are sometimes used as first-line treatments for anxiety disorder, they have both benefits and drawbacks.

Some of the benefits of benzodiazepines are that they are effective at relieving anxiety and act more quickly than antidepressant medications usually prescribed for anxiety. Some of the disadvantages of benzodiazepines are that people can develop tolerance to them if taken over a long period of time and may need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people may even become addicted to them.

To avoid these problems, doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods. This is an app that is especially helpful for older adults, people with substance abuse problems, and people who become addicted to drugs easily.

If people suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines, they may have withdrawal symptoms or have anxiety attacks come back. Therefore, benzodiazepines should be tapered slowly. When you and your doctor decide it’s time to stop the medication, the doctor will help you reduce your dose slowly and safely.

For long-term use, benzodiazepines are generally considered a second-line treatment for anxiety (antidepressants are considered first-line therapy).

Another type of anti-anxiety medication is buspirone. Buspirone is used to treat anxiety disorders or for the short-term treatment of anxiety symptoms. Buspirone is in a class of medications called anxiolytics. It works by changing the amount of certain natural substances in the brain.

  • Antidepressants

Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but may also be helpful in treating anxiety disorders. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control your mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medications before you find those that improve your symptoms and have manageable side effects. A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will usually help.

Antidepressants can take time to take effect, so it’s important to give the drug a chance before making any conclusions about its effectiveness. If you start taking antidepressants, you should not stop taking them without the help of a doctor. When you and your doctor decide it’s time to stop the medication, your doctor will help you slowly and safely reduce the dose of the medication. Stopping them suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are often used as first-line treatments for anxiety disorder. Less used – but effective – treatments for anxiety disorders are older types of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

Attention please! In some cases, teenagers and young adults taking antidepressants may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. Therefore, patients of all ages using antidepressants should be closely monitored, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

  • Beta blockers

Although beta blockers are often used to treat high blood pressure, they can also be used to relieve physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as rapid heartbeat, tremors, and flushing. When these drugs are taken for a short time, they can help affected people keep their physical symptoms under control. They can also be used “as needed” to reduce acute anxiety, including as a preventative intervention for some predictable forms of performance anxiety.

  • Choosing the right drug

Certain types of medication may work better for certain anxiety disorders. For this reason, affected people should work closely with their doctor to determine which medication is best for them. Certain substances, such as caffeine, some over-the-counter drugs, illicit drugs, and herbal supplements, can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety disorders or interact with prescription medications. Patients should consult their doctor so they can learn which substances are safe and which are not.

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Choosing the right medication, medication dosage, and treatment plan should be done under the supervision of a specialist and based on the individual’s needs and medical condition. Your doctor may observe how several medications work before finding the right one.

What is good for anxiety?

Here are the things that are good for substance anxiety:

1- Exercising

Exercise is a great way to burn off anxiety-producing energy, and research tends to support this use. For example, a study found that exercise is good for anxiety. Exercise can also help with negative emotions caused by stressful conditions.

2- Doing relaxation exercises

Some people unconsciously tense muscles and clench the jaw in response to anxiety. In this case, gradual relaxation exercises can help. You can try lying in a comfortable position and slowly stretching and relaxing every muscle group from the toes to the shoulders and chin.

3- to meditate

Meditation can help slow chaotic thoughts, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. Also, mindfulness-based meditation is becoming increasingly popular in therapy. A meta-analytic review suggests that mindfulness-based meditation can be highly effective for people with mood disorder and anxiety-related disorders.

4- Putting the emotions on paper

Finding a way to express anxiety can make it more manageable. Some research suggests that journaling and other types of writing can help people with anxiety disorders cope better with the condition. When you have an anxiety attack, you can take a pen and write down what you feel.

5- Applying aromatherapy

Sniffing calming essential oils can help relieve stress and anxiety. Some scents work better for some people than others, so you might want to consider trying a variety of options. For example, most people suffering from anxiety disorders report benefiting from lavender oil.

6- Drinking herbal teas

It is known that many herbal teas are good for anxiety and anxiety. Some people find the process of making and drinking tea soothing, but some teas have a more direct effect on the brain, which can lead to reduced anxiety. E.g; Chamomile tea is perfect for those who have anxiety problems.

7- Taking herbal supplements

Like herbal teas, many herbal supplements are claimed to reduce anxiety. However, little scientific evidence supports these claims. Before taking herbal supplements, it is very important to consult a doctor who is knowledgeable about their potential interactions with other medications.

8- Spending time with animals

Pets offer companionship, love and support. It is known that spending time with animals can be beneficial for people with a variety of mental health problems, including anxiety. Spending time with animals can also reduce the anxiety and stress associated with trauma.

Frequently asked questions about anxiety disorder

What is the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder?

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Perhaps the person had a frightening experience or saw something upsetting on television. Anyone can feel anxiety in these situations, but the person with the anxiety disorder has persistent or recurrent anxiety attacks that prevent them from fully participating in life. Anxiety can range from relatively mild (with occasional feelings of tension, restlessness) to severe (frequent, disabling panic attacks). Severe anxiety disorders may even lead a person to change their lifestyle to accommodate anxiety, such as staying home.

Do meditation or other relaxation techniques help with anxiety?

Meditation and relaxation techniques are the best options for occasional mild anxiety. There are many instructional books on relaxation exercises (often combined with deep breathing) and meditation as a form of relaxation. They are relatively easy to learn. These approaches can provide relief and can be used anywhere once the person understands the method. Mental health professionals can guide the person who needs a more personal approach to learning relaxation or meditation.

Are there medications to treat anxiety disorder?

There are many medications that have FDA approval to treat anxiety disorders. Several members of the benzodiazepine class are routinely used for relief from anxiety. These little tranquilizers are safe and effective, but should be used for short-term relief. They have many side effects, such as drowsiness, and can be habit-forming at higher doses. People taking these medicines should not drive or operate heavy machinery until they understand how the medicine may affect them.

Antidepressants are widely used to treat anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social phobia. The most commonly prescribed drugs are in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. They are generally effective and have few side effects, but do not provide instant relief.

How is anxiety disorder in children treated?

Children can be treated with the same methods as adults. A therapist can be effective by turning therapy into a game to make it fun for the child. The drug works as well in children as it does in adults, but the psychiatrist should be wary of much lower doses used in children.

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