Understanding Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
General Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety leads to severe problems and illness. These include:
Panic disorder: recurring panic attacks at unexpected times. A person experiencing panic disorder lives in the fear of the next panic attack.
Phobia: excessive fear of something or of a specific object or of any activity.
Social anxiety disorder: extreme fear of being judged by others in social conditions.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: episodes of recurring irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific repeated behaviors.
Separate anxiety disorders: fear of being away from loved ones or from home.
Illness anxiety disorders: anxiety and anxiousness about your health.
Post-traumatic stress disorders: It is a period of anxiety following a traumatic event.
It has different symptoms depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings may be from a racing heart or the feeling of out of control because of the disconnection between your mind and body. People may experience nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that they can’t control.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing
- Restlessness due to fear
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty in falling asleep
Keep in mind that your anxiety symptoms might be different from someone else.
What is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, or fear. An anxiety attack builds slowly. It may worsen gradually as a stressful event approaches.
Anxiety attacks may vary as their symptoms may differ among individuals. Common symptoms of anxiety attacks include:
- Dizziness or feeling of faintness.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Hot flashes
- Worry and depression
- Feeling of restlessness
- Feeling of distress
- Fear and anxiety
Panic attacks and anxiety may have some common symptoms but these are not the same thing.
What causes anxiety?
There is no exact cause of anxiety, but a lot of things play a role as a factor of anxiety. These include genetic and environmental factors in the combination with brain chemistry. Researchers believe that the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear may be impacted.
How is anxiety diagnosed?
There is not a single test to diagnose anxiety. An anxiety diagnosis requires a process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors conduct a physical exam including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to the symptoms.
Many anxiety tests and scales are also used to help your doctor assess the level of anxiety you’re facing.
How do you treat anxiety?
Once you have been diagnosed with experiencing anxiety, you can explore treatment options with your doctor. For few people, medical treatment is not necessary. Changing their lifestyle is enough to cope up with their symptoms and to treat their anxiety and depression and overcome their fear. In the moderate or extreme cases of anxiety, treatment is necessary and treatment is the only thing that can overcome the symptoms and lead to a more manageable day-to-day life.
Treatment for anxiety can be divided into categories: psychotherapy and medication. Meeting with a psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with anxiety when it occurs.
Medication can be prescribed by a medical professional to treat anxiety including antidepressants and sedatives. They work by balancing the brain chemistry, prevent the attack of anxiety, and ward off the most severe symptoms of the disorder.
Natural Remedies for Coping with Anxiety
Changing your lifestyle can be an effective way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Natural remedies include caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones. These include:
- Get a full night of quality sleep
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other addictive substances
- Quit cigarette smoking
Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it. Stress can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.
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