For most people, experiencing anxiety is a normal part of life. However, those having anxiety or stress disorders may experience frequent events of fear and worry before, during, and after an event.
It is a natural response of our body to certain events. It is a natural fear that people have while delivering a speech, starting school, or going to a big event.
However, if your anxiety lasts longer than 6 months or interferes with your life regularly, you may have an anxiety disorder and should consult your doctor.
What is anxiety disorder?
You may get worried while starting a new job, giving presentations in front of crowds, and going to a new place. All this is a part of life, and most individuals go through it. As a result, it makes you stronger to face the hard challenges of life. You try to make yourself better to face other situations in life. It is just an ordinary thing that comes and goes.
People with anxiety disorders do not feel the same way. These situations are exceedingly stressful and hard for them to face. Even it stops them from doing certain activities like going to malls, crossing the roads, or even leaving the house alone.
If left untreated, this form of fear can progress to serious anxiety problems. It can interfere with your life.
Anyone can experience anxiety disorders, but women are more likely to get them than men.
Symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person. Some people will have a rapid heartbeat, while others may experience a few visible symptoms like fast breathing and shaking.
General symptoms of anxiety include:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of focus
- Dry mouth
Some people may experience gastrointestinal problems or face trouble while avoiding the things that trigger anxiety.
Your symptom may vary from others. If you are having problems regulating your symptoms, or if they are interfering with your job or family life, you should consult your doctor.
Types of anxiety disorders
Anxiety can affect a person in many ways. It may lead to several other disorders.
Phobia: Phobia is connected to something specific like a place, object, animal, situation, or activity. Unlike general stress or anxiety, it is linked with a particular thing.
Panic disorder: It is a type of anxiety disorder that leads to panic attacks. It causes a sudden feeling of stress, fear, and distress even when there is no real danger. A person with panic attacks also feels worried about the upcoming dangers.
OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder): OCD is a common and chronic condition in which a person has uncontrolled, recurring, and absurd thoughts that leads to performing different tasks again and again.
SAD (Separation anxiety disorder): SAD is a type of anxiety disorder in which a child is afraid of being separated from their family or other close relatives. They fear and worry about being away from their home.
Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia. It is an extreme fear of being judged, watched, and noticed by others in social gatherings, schools, workplaces, and other events.
Illness anxiety disorder: Illness anxiety disorder is a persistent feeling or fear of a person about his or her health. It was previously known as hypochondria. People with illness anxiety disorder feel that they have some serious medical illness despite having few symptoms. Even if they have no symptoms, they are afraid of becoming ill.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): PTSD is a disorder in which people feel fear or stress after a shocking or scary incident.
The exact causes of anxiety are still unknown. It is believed to have some genetic basis. Environmental factors may also contribute to anxiety.
Current researchers are taking a deep look at the parts of the brain that are involved in dealing with, causing, and controlling anxiety.
People having traumatic and bad life experiences are more prone to anxiety. It can be due to underlying health issues.
Anxiety can sometimes be the first sign of a minor to severe illness, such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or diabetes. It is good to talk to your doctor if you experience anxiety and stress.
Diagnosis of anxiety
Various physical examinations and mental health tests are done to evaluate the severity and diagnose the anxiety. Your doctor may also perform blood and urine tests to identify some underlying health issues that are triggering anxiety.
If you are experiencing intense anxiety symptoms: you need to see a mental health specialist or psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will help you identify and treat the anxiety by providing counseling.
Usually, a mental health care provider performs the following tests to diagnose anxiety:
Psychological evaluation test: A psychological evaluation test involves discussing various things like feelings, moods, or thoughts. Your mental health care provider will discuss your behavioral changes and ask about certain life events.
Sometimes, anxiety occurs along with other mental disorders. As a result, it makes the entire diagnosis procedure more challenging.
DSM-5: Many health care providers use the handbook of DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) provided by the American Psychiatric Association and match a person’s symptoms to the criteria given in this guide.
It contains descriptions, symptoms, and other information to treat major mental health issues. It is an easy way of communication between doctors and their patients and provides a reliable diagnosis that can be further used for research purposes.
Once you are diagnosed with anxiety disorder, your doctor may help you treat this condition. For some people, medications are effective.
In some cases, lifestyle changes may benefit a person on a long-term basis. Treatment of anxiety will help you overcome the symptoms and help you lead a balanced life.
Treatment options include:
Psychotherapy: A psychotherapist will help you manage your symptoms. It requires you to learn some skills to handle your symptoms and return to your normal life. It may also include exposure to things you are afraid of, which progressively increases confidence in your ability to deal with specific situations.
Medications: Usually, antidepressants and sedatives are used to treat it. Depending upon the type and severity of the disorder, these medications are prescribed. Furthermore, anxiety drugs are intended to provide temporary relief and should not be taken as a long-term treatment for anxiety.
Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes can help a person overcome stress and anxiety. Getting enough sleep, exercising, a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol, smoking, and caffeinated beverages is the best way to eliminate symptoms.
Foods: Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and getting enough sleep are the best ways to treat anxiety. However, other studies advocate including multiple foods into your diet to alleviate symptoms. These foods include turmeric, salmon, chamomile, green tea, and dark chocolate. Adding those foods may help you control your brain effectively, especially in situations of fear and nervousness.
Depression and anxiety
If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to get depression. Both depression and anxiety occur separately, but one disorder may result in another.
Anxiety can result in depression. Anxiety symptoms might arise as a result of the worsening of depression symptoms.
Lifestyle changes, medications, and psychotherapy can help you manage the symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are common. Different people show mild to severe symptoms. Medication and therapies can help you avoid the symptoms. But it is good to deal with it by adopting certain lifestyle changes.
Getting enough sleep, a healthy diet, exercising, and quitting smoking or alcohol will help you improve your condition.
Keep in mind that anxiety disorders can be treated. Though it is not easy to avoid them, you can learn to manage your symptoms with the help of a mental health care provider.