‘Anxiety disorders’ is the collective term for conditions that cause extreme nervousness and worry in patients. These overwhelming feelings affect sleep or everyday activities. Anything you fear can trigger an anxiety disorder, or it could occur without a reason. Work and family problems, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking increase anxiety risks in individuals along with certain health conditions or medicines.
Anxiety becomes a long-term problem if it is not treated or managed on time. According to the 2015-2016 National Mental Health Survey by NIMHANS – the first of its kind in India – the condition affects 3.1 percent of the Indian population (Source: http://indianmhs.nimhans.ac.in/Docs/Summary.pdf).
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders can be of different types, each with its own specific criteria for diagnosis. But they are easily distinguished from regular stress and worry thanks to their persistent, long-term nature. The general symptoms of anxiety disorder is excessive worry about various topics that is hard to control and physically manifests as:
- Sleep troubles
- Rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
- Lack of focus
- Muscle tightness or fatigue
- Irritability, shaking, nervousness or restlessness
- Dizziness and jumpiness
- Accelerated heart rate
- Blushing and/or sweating
People diagnosed with anxiety disorder find it hard to maintain relationships and daily activities, like work and school. They struggle with phone conversations, decision-making, and appointment scheduling. Others get triggered by certain situations, like medical treatments, public speaking, or traveling.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are normally classified into the following types:
Separation Anxiety Disorder
This condition is commonly seen in children, although separation anxiety is a normal part of the development process for toddlers and infants. Separation anxiety disorders, however, are accompanied by prolonged and intense emotional reactions, especially when separated from guardians or parents. This causes problems with outdoor activities like going to school. In a few instances, separation anxiety disorders include panic attacks, sleep troubles, and the fear of losing a parent at the time of separation.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder gets triggered by a crippling fear of social situations. The condition stems from the fear of judgment or embarrassment. Social anxiety usually varies in severity. However, the common factors include anticipation of social events, avoidance of situations leading to ridicule or criticism, and hyper-fixation on perceived errors in social settings.
This manifests as regular, unanticipated panic attacks as well as an uninterrupted fear of impending panic attacks. Physical symptoms of the condition include fear of losing control, shortness of breath, detachment from reality, stubbornness, and rapid heart rate. There is often no clear cause, although journaling helps identify possible triggers. Panic disorders may be dangerous when they occur without warning at inopportune moments like driving, operating heavy machinery, and engaging in other hazardous activities.
This is a type of anxiety disorder that causes patients to feel enclosed, trapped, helpless or out of control. But agoraphobia is not restricted to confined spaces; even crowded areas, dark spaces, public transportation, and lines can trigger the problem. Agoraphobia severely affects a person’s ability to work, socialize, and handle other social obligations. When it occurs alongside panic orders, it can trigger panic attacks along with intense physical symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Excessive and consistent worry or fear interfering with an individual’s ability to function normally is generalized anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety disorder differs from other types due to the fact that it does not arise from a specific cause for worry. The subjects resulting in the anxiety could differ from unnecessary concerns over the health of a loved one or yourself, economic stress without any clear cause, or a skewed perspective on the problems in life. Generalized anxiety leads to difficulties as far as taking decisions, handling uncertainties, or relaxing is concerned.
Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
This term is used to refer to cases where the symptoms of more than one anxiety exist at the same time, making it hard for doctors to categorize any particular disorder. Though interference with normal functioning and distress are evident, unspecified anxiety disorders cannot be pegged correctly since they fail to meet the criteria of a specific disorder.
Connection between Substance Abuse and Anxiety
Many patients suffering from anxiety disorders self-medicate to minimize the symptoms. However, this makes them more susceptible to the development of substance abuse disorders in the long run. It is normal for people with anxiety disorders to seek feels of dissociation or euphoria that comes with cocaine abuse. The problem is considerably worsened by the fact that the illicit drug provides temporary relief from severe emotional and physical symptoms.
Unfortunately, it is seen that despite the temporary relief, taking drugs backfires on the patient. Cocaine acts as a stimulant and triggers anxiety attacks that worsen the existing symptoms. What’s more, the short term effects of cocaine quickly lead to the development of an addiction or dependency.
Communicating Anxiety Problems to the Healthcare Provider
Patients should notify their healthcare providers as soon as the symptoms start to show along with the possible triggers. Inform the counseling psychologist if the anxiety affects regular activities. Providers may ask the patient about their medical history and whether they have any family members suffering from a similar condition. Transparency is key to seek the necessary treatment and you should speak to your counseling psychologist about any drug, nicotine, or alcohol use in the past or present.
Ways to Manage Anxiety
Medication may help you feel relaxed and calm, and reduce some of your symptoms. They are usually administered along with other treatments and therapies for maximum impact.
Talk about Your Condition
Healthcare providers may recommend the patient to a counseling psychologist. These specialists are well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients understand and change the way they react to events triggering the symptoms. In some cases, patients feel more at ease speaking about their anxiety with family members or friends. It is important to discuss your anxiety issues with someone who is encouraging and supportive.
Try to Relax
Opt for activities like meditation, music, or exercise to ease your mind. Do things that you enjoy or spend time surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Maintain a Normal Sleep Cycle
Sleeping regularly makes you calmer during the day. Be consistent regarding when you’re going to bed and when you’re waking up every day. Avoid using the computer or watching television before heading to bed. Keep your room dark, quiet, and comfortable.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing minimizes anxiety and helps you relax. Take deep, slow breaths several times in day or when you are having an anxiety attack. Remember to inhale through the nose and exhale out of your mouth.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise improves your energy levels and uplifts your mood. When you exercise regularly, you sleep better. So speak to your counseling psychologist about creating a proper exercise plan suited to your requirements.
Anxiety disorder can hamper your everyday functioning if left untreated. Do not let your symptoms grow worse by avoiding treatment. Speak to your counseling psychologist about managing the symptoms and get suitable care.
Palalika Chanda has 8 years of experience as a health blogger. Health and well-being are her two areas of expertise, and she has churned out numerous articles, blogs, and other think pieces on the subjects. She brushes up her knowledge on the subject consistently and this has served her well in her past branding and advertising roles. For any health-related queries and to view more of her content, please visit https://careclues.com