- Read This Article, You Made Need Help
Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.
Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally.
For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. However, with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.
Everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety, but they are generally occasional and short-lived, and do not cause problems. However, when the cognitive, physical and behavioural symptoms of anxiety are persistent and severe, and anxiety causes distress in a person’s life to the point that it negatively affects his or her ability to work or study, socialize and manage daily tasks, it may be beyond the normal range.
Everyone feels anxious at certain times. Workplace pressure, planning a big event or writing an exam can cause feelings of wariness, or even fear. While these situations are uncomfortable, they may be more severe for those who suffer from an anxiety disorder.
People who suffer from anxiety disorders have long periods of intense feelings of fear or distress out of proportion to real events. Their brains interpret real or imagined events to be much more risky or dangerous than they really are. Their lives are full of unease and fear, which interferes with their personal and professional relationships.
Anxiety disorders affect children as well as adults. All too often, people mistake these disorders for mental weakness or instability. The social stigma attached to mental illness often prevents those with anxiety disorders from asking for help.
Anxiety disorders affect behavior, thoughts, emotions and physical health. It is believed that a combination of biological factors, brain functions, personal circumstances, combined with social and economic factors, cause anxiety disorders.
People often suffer from more than one anxiety disorder, and those with anxiety disorders often suffer from depression, eating disorders or drug abuse as well. The good news is that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated once they are recognized.
TYPES OF DISORDERS
Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that includes different conditions:
Panic disorder. You feel terror that strikes at random. During a panic attack, you may also sweat, have chest pain, and feel palpitations(unusually strong or irregular heartbeats). Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack.
Social anxiety disorder. Also called social phobia, this is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You fixate about others judging you or on being embarrassed or ridiculed. As a result, people avoid social situations. This is more than shyness. It can have a big impact on work or school performance and relationships.
Specific phobias. You feel intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause you to avoid ordinary situations.
Generalized anxiety disorder. You feel excessive worry around a number of everyday problems for more than six months. This anxiety is often far greater than expected. For example, intense anxiety over a minor concern. Many people experience physical symptoms too, including muscle tension and sleep problems.
People with anxiety disorders may feel anxious most of the time or for brief intense episodes, which may occur for no apparent reason. They may have anxious feelings that are so uncomfortable that they avoid daily routines and activities that might cause these feelings. Some people have occasional anxiety attacks so intense that they are terrified orpowerless.
Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, and they are the most common mental health problem. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience. Anxiety disorders may be more likely to occur when we have certain ways of looking at things (like believing that everything must be perfect) or learn unhelpful coping strategies from others. However, sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a reason.
All anxiety disorders share some general symptoms:
- Panic, fear, and uneasiness, •Sleep problems, •Not being able to stay calm and still, •Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet, •Shortness of breath, •Heart palpitations, •Dry mouth, •Nausea, •Tense muscles
Researchers don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders. Like other forms of mental illness, they stem from a combination of things, including changes in your brain and environmental stress, and even your genes. The disorders can run in families and could be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and other emotions.
Like most mental health problems, anxiety disorders appear to be caused by a combination of biological factors, psychological factors and challenging life experiences, including:
- stressful or traumatic life event, •family history of anxiety disorders, •childhood development issues, •alcohol, medications or illegal substances, •other medical or psychiatric problems.
If you have symptoms, your doctor will examine you and ask for your medical history. She may run tests to rule out medical illnesses that might be causing your symptoms. No lab tests can specifically diagnose anxiety disorders.
If your doctor doesn’t find any medical reason for how you’re feeling, she may send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist. Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and testing to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.
Your doctor will consider how long and how intense your symptoms are when diagnosing you. She’ll also check to see if the symptoms keep you from carrying out your normal activities.
Most people with the condition try one or more of these therapies:
Medication: Many antidepressants can work for anxiety disorders. Certain anticonvulsant medicines and low-dose antipsychotic drugs can be added to help make other treatments work better. Some people also find antianxiety or antidepressant medication helpful. Medication can help with the physical feelings of anxiety. It may also make anxious thoughts less frequent or intense, so it can be easier to learn helpful coping strategies. Some people take medication until their anxiety is controlled enough to try therapies like CBT.
Psychotherapy: This is a type of counseling that addresses the emotional response to mental illness. A mental health specialist helps you by talking about how to understand and deal with your anxiety disorder.
Cognitive behavioral therapy:An effective form of counselling for anxiety is cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’). CBT teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. A goal of CBT is to identify and change the unhelpful patterns of thinking that feed anxious thoughts. CBT can help you identify problem behaviours and replace them with helpful strategies. It’s often the first treatment to try for mild or moderate problems with anxiety.
These tips may help you control or lessen your symptoms: Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. Eat right, exercise, and get better sleep. Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood.
Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping.
Overall, anxiety disorders can be managed with both medication and therapy and you should not feel ashamed of your condition. Remember, you are not alone.
Take Care of yourself and Each Other.