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Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Every human being suffers from anxiety at one point or the other. However, while for most people, anxiety only occurs occasionally and far in between, for others, it is a more regular occurrence. This is usually a result of an anxiety disorder. There are multiple variants of anxiety disorders with different symptoms. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), one of the more popular forms of anxiety disorder, affects around 6.8 million adults.
Millions of adults suffer from other anxiety-related disorders, yet, many don’t receive treatment. These disorders typically make their daily life difficult and can significantly impact the functioning of patients. In this article, we will explore what anxiety disorder is, the various types of anxiety disorders and how they can be managed.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are a form of mental health condition which causes persons to respond regularly to situations with fear and worry. The main difference between an anxiety disorder and regular nervousness is that the former may occur without apparent reasons or for abnormal reasons. Thus, while it might be normal to be anxious just before speaking in public, you might have an anxiety disorder if you suddenly get panic attacks while performing everyday activities.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders include excessive sweating, faster and irregular heartbeat, chest pains, light-headedness, loss of appetite, and breathlessness. Symptoms can also manifest psychologically, such as being unable to relax, having traumatic memories, irrational fear, and difficulty concentrating.
These symptoms can make it difficult for anyone to get through the day. Similarly, anxiety disorders typically interfere with a person’s ability to perform typical day-to-day tasks. This can cause adverse outcomes with regard to such a person’s work, studies, or even relationships.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can develop as a result of a myriad of factors. However, here are some of the most common causes:
- Trauma: People who experience traumatic and stressful situations as children may develop anxiety disorders. Similarly, traumatic events in adulthood can also contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. Thus, it is not uncommon for veterans with traumatic combat experiences to have these disorders. Losing a loved one could also be a trigger.
- Family history: As with several other mental health conditions, genetics and family history can play a role in the development of anxiety disorders. Thus, people whose families have a history of problems with anxiety may have a higher chance of having anxiety disorders. OCD, for instance, has been found to be passed down in the family.
- Substance use: Anxiety disorders are also associated with the abuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs. This is particularly the case with people battling addiction, as withdrawal can exacerbate anxiety.
- Personality: Anxiety disorders can be a result of personality traits. Certain types of personalities are more susceptible to these disorders than others. For instance, people who are perfectionists may have a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
- Health issues: Specific physical illness may increase the risk of anxiety. Such illnesses include asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, mental health conditions can also contribute to anxiety. Persons dealing with depression, for instance, may end up having issues with anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This disorder involves excessive and persistent anxiety and worries about various situations. Typically, generalized anxiety disorder interferes with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities. People that suffer from GAD have difficulty controlling their worry and tend to be restless or riled up most of the time. Similarly, they might encounter problems with sleeping, fatigue, and concentrating. GAD-related anxiety can be centered on anything from job responsibilities to minor issues like appointments.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This is another common anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety disorder have a heightened fear of social situations that may require interaction with others. They are generally very anxious about embarrassment, rejection, and humiliation during social interaction. These people tend to struggle with activities like making small talk, meeting new people, eating in public, and public speaking.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs in people who have witnessed or experienced some traumatic event in the past. This could be an accident or even assault. Persons with PTSD tend to relive these traumatic experiences through vivid recollections and a heightened feeling of anxiety. Hence, they may have trouble relaxing in everyday situations and struggle to fall asleep.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This is a mental health condition typically characterized by unwanted and persistent thoughts or the urge to do something. Persons with OCD have an irrational fear of something, which generally leads to the development of certain repetitive habits. Thus, for instance, someone with a fear of germs may wash their hands compulsively in an attempt to always keep them germ-free.
Panic disorder is marked by the persistent recurrence of intense and uncontrollable panic attacks. People experiencing panic attacks may display physical symptoms like shortness of breath, excessive sweating, and dizziness. Similarly, they may be overwhelmed by feelings of impending doom, such as death. These attacks generally happen without any specific or apparent trigger.
A phobia is an irrational and unfounded fear of a thing or a situation that is generally not harmful. People can have phobias in a wide range of situations. This could include heights, spiders, public speaking, or even flying. People with phobias go to extensive lengths to avoid their fears.
Treating and Managing Anxiety Disorders
Medication and therapy are two main ways of medically dealing with anxiety disorders.
Physicians may prescribe various medications, depending on the anxiety disorder in particular. However, it is worth noting that medication does not erase anxiety disorders. Instead, it helps manage the symptoms to allow for a relatively normal life. Medications for anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines that help reduce your panic.
You may also be prescribed beta-blockers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics as may necessary. It is, of course, essential to talk to your psychiatrist or physician before getting any one of these drugs. You can also leverage sites like BuzzRX to save more on your drugs and learn more about how they work.
Therapy is recommended for people dealing with anxiety disorders as it helps them understand their emotions better and learn how to manage them properly. A common form of psychotherapy for people with anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT trains patients to turn negative emotions and behaviors into positive ones. In essence, it helps patients manage their anxiety problems by modifying how they think and behave.
If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, it is crucial of understanding anxiety and what you are going through, as this is the first step to managing it. Importantly, you should seek a medical diagnosis and explore the treatment plans recommended by a physician.