Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a behavioral response to stress. Although it is useful in some circumstances as it helps us prepare and react to certain problems or urgent situations that may arise, it can become so intensified to the point that it becomes a disorder. 

Anxiety disorder differs from general anxiety in that those who suffer from the condition tend to feel overly anxious or afraid to the point that it negatively affects the way they lead their lives, often causing the sufferer the inability to lead a normal life.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is one of the most common psychological conditions. It is typically caused by one or both of the following 2 factors:

  • Genetics and Background – If parents have the disorder, their children are likely to suffer from it too. Alternatively, if someone has an introverted personality and an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, these can also cause the condition to arise.
  • Environmental Factors and Upbringing – These include how someone has been raised by their parents, as well as influences from those close to them and encountering certain events or situations that have caused them to feel anxiety in the past.
Anxiety disorder can be categorized into the 5 main forms as follows:
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – This refers to anxiety that is experienced throughout someone’s daily life and which tends to last for an extended period of time. It might include anxiety related to work, family matters, or other small, insignificant events which may all affect the way that person lives their life. Eventually, the stress and anxiety may accumulate until it begins to have a physical effect, such as feeling tense, being exhausted, getting easily frustrated, experiencing aches and pains, being unable to concentrate, or having trouble sleeping. 
  • Panic Disorder (PD) – Sufferers begin to experience severe anxiety and fear for a short period of time for no apparent reason. They may have an increased heart rate, palpitations, profuse perspiration, chest-pain, a choking feeling, lightheadedness, nausea or a churning stomach, shivering chills, hot flushes, numbness in the hands and feet, or a general feeling of impending doom. While the symptoms of a panic attack are not serious, the sufferer will feel extremely uncomfortable and it can be mistaken as a heart attack or some other potentially fatal condition.
  • Phobias – This refers to people being extremely afraid of a particular thing, situation, or activity. Common phobias include, for example, a fear of heights, blood, dogs, or small spaces.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – This causes the sufferer to be so anxious about things in their life that they repeat certain actions or behaviors again and again. For example, such behaviors could include thinking that they have forgotten to lock the front door and returning to check whether they’ve locked it over and over again. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – This refers to a group of symptoms that affect someone after they’ve gone through a particularly traumatic experience. Examples of such a traumatic situation may include a near-death experience, a natural disaster, being severely injured or witnessing the death of someone close to them. Symptoms of this condition are numerous and include the person being especially quiet and unresponsive to those around them, being easily scared or afraid, feeling anxious about little things, or being unable to stop thinking about the event that caused the condition. They also may feel the same anxiety they did when they first had the traumatic experience if something stimulates their memory of the event.
The doctor will first review the patient’s medical history and perform a general health check-up to ensure the symptoms are not from conditions that are similar to anxiety disorder. The doctor will also discuss the situation with the patient or utilize medical equipment designed to analyze psychological disorders to be sure that the patient is indeed suffering from anxiety disorder and not some other psychological condition, such as depression, which has similar symptoms.
Treatment is dependent on the form of condition. The main forms of treatment include discussing certain aspects of the condition with the patient, offering advice, listening to the patient’s responses and providing support, sympathy, and explanations about the condition. As well, psychotherapy sessions and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) could be prescribed alongside various forms of oral medication that can reduce anxiety.
Anxiety disorder can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet consisting of the 5 food groups, and exercising regularly. Getting enough rest is also crucially important, as is engaging in activities that can relieve stress and avoiding alcohol. 

Additionally, patients should try to be aware of the triggers that can cause them anxiety. They should also attempt to practice mindfulness techniques which can keep the mind in the moment and relieve any tension present in the patient’s mind.

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