What is Anxiety?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety. The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide with specific phobia, major depressive disorder and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is a natural human reaction to stressful situations, but becomes a condition when it frequently occurs without a trigger. Anxiety disorders are different since they are a group of mental illnesses and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with our life normally.
Type of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders can be classified into six main types such as below:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); This is a chronic disorder involving excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. It is the most common anxiety disorder.
- Panic disorder; Brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension characterize panic disorder. These attacks can lead to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and breathing difficulties.
- Social anxiety disorder; This is a fear of being negatively judged by others in social situations or a fear of public embarrassment. This includes a range of feelings, such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations
- Phobia; This is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias differ from other anxiety disorders, as they relate to a specific cause.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) ;This is an anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive.
- Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ;This is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, sexual assault, a hostage situation, or a serious accident.
Anxiety has general symptoms such as below:
- Panic, fear and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor will examine you and ask for your medical history.
If your doctor does not find any medical reason for how you are feeling, she or he may send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or another mental health specialist.
Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and tests to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are treatable and can be helped with professional care such as below:
- Talk therapy
- Stress Management Treatment: Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy.
- Medication: Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but often relieves symptoms. Medication can only be prescribed by a medical doctor (such as a psychiatrist or a primary care provider) but a few states allow psychologists to prescribe psychiatric medications.
- Anti depressant: Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful for treating anxiety disorders.
- Anti-anxiety: Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are first-line treatments for generalized anxiety disorder.
Please find below tips that may help you ;
- Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine; Caffeine is a mood-altering drug and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse.
- Exercise and get better sleep
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter meds or herbal remedies
World Health Organization
American Psychological Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Medical News Today
National Institute of Mental Health