Anxiety is defined as a psychological and physiological state of mind. It is characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral mechanism. These components generate an unpleasant feeling of uneasiness, nervousness, fear, or worry. Some fears and worries including worry about a dear one or in anticipation of taking a quiz test, or other examination are reasonable. Anxiety affects the sufferer’s ability to sleep or other bodily function. Strikingly the teenagers are particularly vulnerable to having tetchiness as a symptom of various emotional problems, including anxiety. Anxiety may occur without a valid reason, or it may occur based on a genuine ground but may surpass what would normally be expected. Severe anxiety can have a grave impact on daily life.
Anxiety can often crop up without a particular triggering stimulus. Anxiety and fear are not the same. Fear occurs due to an observed threat and is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance. Anxiety is the consequence of threats that are supposed to be irrepressible or inescapable. When anxiety becomes extreme, it may fall under the category of an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
People with this condition are accompanied by the feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly without warning. Other symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Chest pain
- Palpitations (irregular heartbeats)
- Feeling of choking
This may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or “going mad”.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):
People with OCD are obsessed with constant thoughts or fears causing them to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are termed as obsessions, and the rituals are known as compulsions. For example a person with an unreasonable fear of germs keeps washing his or her hands frequently.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
PTSD is a condition that can occur after experiencing a traumatic and/or scary event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the sudden death of a loved one, or a natural calamity. People with PTSD often have lingering and frightening thoughts and memories of the incident, and tend to be emotionally insensitive.
Social anxiety disorder:
This is also known as social phobia. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by extreme worry and self-consciousness about everyday social state of affairs. The person often suffers from a fear of being judged by others, or behaving in such a way that might cause discomfiture or lead to ridicule.
A specific phobia can be defined as intense fear of a particular object or situation, including snakes, heights, or flying. The intensity of fear usually is not justifiable to the situation and may cause the person to avoid common, everyday situations.
Generalized anxiety disorder:
This disorder is characterized by extreme, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to fuel the anxiety.
Separation anxiety disorder:
This is considered a disorder especially of children. Separation anxiety disorder can be diagnosed when a child becomes very worried in response to anticipating or being separated from one or more care giving adults (usually a parent). To cite an example, the separation may cause during the child’s going to school each day or going to bed each evening.
What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?
Frequency of anxiety symptom varies from person to person. Every person has different chemical arrangement.
Head, neck or shoulder pain
Burning, itchy, tight scalp
Stabbing pains and odd pressures in neck, head or face
Sore jaw almost feeling like tooth ache
|Ear||A feeling of blocked ear canal
Low rumbling sounds
Deafness in one or both ear
Extra pressure or fullness in the ear
Pulsing or throbbing sound in the ear
|Mind||Fear for everything
Fear of going crazy
Fear of impending doom
Fear of losing control
Lack of concentration
Short term memory loss
Feeling of extra burden
Difficulty in thought process
Altered state of reality
|Mood||Lack of patience
Feeling of being neglected or down
Feel like crying for no valid reason
Feeling always under pressure
Feeling detached from loved ones
|Mouth/Stomach||Unusual smell or taste
Difficulty in swallowing
Difficulty in pronunciation
Lack of appetite
Lump in throat
Burning skin sensation
|Sleep||Problem in sleeping
Waking in a panic attack
|Sight||Distorted, foggy, or blurred vision
Dry, watery or itchy eyes
Spots in the vision
Flashing lights when eyes are closed
|Touch||Feeling cold or chilled
Cold or sweaty hands or feet
Tingling, pins and needles feeling
Other related symptoms include:
- Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
- Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension
- Having a heart attack
- Fainting in public
- Serious undetected illness
Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
The accurate cause of GAD is not clearly known, but a number of factors – including genetics, brain chemistry and environmental stresses – appear to encourage its development.
Some research reveals that family history plays a role in increasing the risk of developing GAD. This means that the tendency to develop GAD may be hereditary.
An abnormal level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain has been connected with GAD. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that transmit information from nerve cell to nerve cell. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot reach the brain accurately. This can change the way the brain reacts in certain situations, resulting in anxiety.
Trauma and stressful events, such as sexual or physical abuse, the death of a close one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may result in GAD. GAD also may deteriorate during periods of stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine may aggravate anxiety.
Lack of oxygen:
High altitude sickness, emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot with the vessels of the lung) may result in GAD.
The doctor has the tough time in determining which symptoms come from which causes. For instance, in a study of people with chest pain that could be heart disease but appeared not to be heart related and 43% were detected to have a panic disorder- a common form of anxiety.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?
If symptoms of an anxiety disorder are found, the doctor will start evaluation by enquiring you about your medical history and performing a physical test. Although there are no laboratory tests to exclusively diagnose anxiety disorders, the doctor may perform various tests to look for physical sickness as the cause of the symptoms.
If no physical illness is evident, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat various kinds of mental instability. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially structured interview and assessment tools to assess a person for an anxiety disorder.
The doctor grounds his or her diagnosis on the patient’s description of the intensity and duration of symptoms together with any problems with daily execution caused by the symptoms, and the doctor’s study of the patient’s attitude and behavior. The doctor then decides if the patient’s symptoms and extent of dysfunction indicate a specific anxiety disorder.
How Is GAD Treated?
Drugs are available to treat GAD and may be especially effective for people whose anxiety is disrupting every day functioning. The medications frequently used to treat GAD in the short-term belong to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These medications are sometimes called “tranquilizers,” as they make you feel calm and relaxed by reducing the physical symptoms of GAD, viz. muscle tension and restlessness.
Self-Care at Home
In certain cases, you may control anxiety at home without the seeking help from of a doctor. These are useful only to anxiety attacks of short duration in which you are aware of the cause. This type of anxiety is short and it goes away by itself or can be eliminated without putting much serious effort. For example, you may feel anxious over a forthcoming public performance, a final exam, or an awaiting job interview. In such circumstances, stress may be relieved by such actions as follows:
- Picturing yourself successfully facing and conquering the specific fear
- Having a chat with a supportive person
- Watching TV
- Taking a long, warm bath
- Resting in a dark room
- Deep-breathing exercises
Prevention of anxiety demands through awareness of life’s stresses and your own ability to deal with them. This may often appear a hard task in our busy and hectic 21st century.
In essence, you might develop coping methods for all of life’s stresses. Strategies might include the following:
- Physical comfort through exercise
- Healthy eating habits
- Adequate rest
- Avoiding the use of caffeine, illicit drugs, or the inappropriate use of stimulants or other prescription medications
- Relaxation exercises including deep breathing
- Interpersonal skills to deal with difficult people and situations
- Parenting skills to deal with your children.
- Counseling and support after a traumatic or disturbing experience.
NOTE: Consult your doctor or pharmacist before choosing any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies because many of these medicines contain chemicals that can worsen anxiety symptoms.