What is anxiety?

  • “Anxiety” is a feeling of being tense or nervous.
  • It is a normal emotion that people experience when they face threatening or difficult situations.

 

What is an anxiety disorder?

  • An anxiety disorder is different than the normal feeling of anxiety. It causes severe distress that interferes with your ability to function and carry on your daily activities.
  • Anxiety disorders are very common. They can affect anyone. They can also occur among children and adolescents (See Anxiety in Children and Adolescents)
  • There are many types of anxiety disorders. They include:

 

What causes an anxiety disorder?

There is no single cause for anxiety.
  • Anxiety might be caused by a dysfunction in the brain chemicals.
  • Heredity might play a role as well. Family members are at a higher risk to develop the disorder than others.
  • Environmental factors also put the person at a higher risk.

 

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of the anxiety disorder. General symptoms include:
  • Feelings of panic, fear, and nervousness
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Repeated rituals or behaviors (such as repeated hand washing)
  • Sleeping problems
  • An inability to stay still and calm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

 

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders include:
Panic disorder
  • Is when you experience sudden attacks of fear and worry that come out of nowhere and without any cause.
  • The common symptoms of a panic attack include: sweating, chest pain, dizziness, racing heartbeat, feeling of choking.
  • These symptoms make you feel as if you are having a heart attack or "going crazy."
Social anxiety disorder (Social Phobia)
  • Is when you experience excessive worry and self-consciousness in social settings or performance situations.
  • You fear being judged by others, being laughed at, or embarrassed.
  • An example is when meeting new people, being in a crowded place, speaking in front of a crowd, making mistakes while you are being watched, etc…
Specific phobia
  • Is when you experience an intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as snakes, heights, or flying.
  • The level of fear is exaggerated compared to the situation. It might make you avoid common, everyday situations.
Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Is when you experience long-lasting, excessive worrying about many areas of your life (e.g., family, school, activities, health, and natural disasters)
  • The worry is excessive and unrealistic and it often occurs without any cause.

 

Is there a treatment for anxiety disorders?

Yes.
There are several effective treatments for anxiety disorders. They depend on the severity of the condition. These treatments might be used alone or in combination to achieve the best results.
Common treatments for anxiety include, but are not limited to:
  • Lifestyle Changes
    • Exercise
    • Improved nutrition
    • Sleep regulation
    • Increased Social Support
    • Stress Reduction
  • Medication
    • Specific drugs can be used to decrease the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Psychotherapy
    • A process in which trained mental health professional talks with you about strategies that help you understand and deal with your anxiety.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
    • This type of psychotherapy helps you recognize and change thoughts and behaviors that are related to intense feelings of anxiety.
  • Brain stimulation therapies:

 

What happens if anxiety is not treated?

  • If left untreated, anxiety might last from weeks to years.
  • It might cause significant disability in the person’s life. It might lead to loss of employment.
  • Anxiety can become complicated, and it might lead to depression if left untreated.
  • Severe anxiety might lead to suicide.

 

Useful links on anxiety

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-anxiety-disorders
http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/types
http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety