Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can seriously affect day-to-day living.
When faced with potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival.
Ever since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger has set off alarms in the body and allowed an individual to take evasive action. These alarms become noticeable in the form of a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings.
A rush of adrenaline in response to danger causes these reactions. This adrenaline boost is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. It prepares humans to physically confront or flee any threats to safety.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.
Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.
Symptoms of general anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep feeling faint or dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Chills or hot flashes
- Apprehension and worry
- Numbness or tingling
- feelings of fear
- feelings of isolation
Types of Anxiety disorders
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. People with GAD are not always able to identify the cause of their anxiety.
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. Panic attacks tend to occur and escalate rapidly and peak after 10 minutes. However, they may last for hours.
Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress but can also occur without a trigger. An individual experiencing a panic attack may misinterpret it as a life-threatening illness. Panic attacks can also lead to drastic changes in behavior to avoid future attacks.
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. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety. Triggers for a phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects.
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 and human contact to the point that everyday living is rendered extremely difficult.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): This is an anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive. OCD suffers usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational, but they serve to alleviate their anxiety. People with OCD may obsessively clean personal items or hands or constantly check locks, stoves, or light switches.
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. PTSD often leads to flashbacks, and the person may make behavioral changes to avoid triggers.
Separation anxiety disorder: This is characterized by high levels of anxiety when separated from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety. Separation sometimes results in panic symptoms. It is considered a disorder when the response is excessive or inappropriate after separation.
Therapy for anxiety
The treatment options listed here require the assistance of a mental health or medical provider or other licensed professional.
CBT: Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns related to anxiety in regular meetings with a licensed, CBT-trained therapist. Therapists who practice CBT may use interpersonal therapy (IPT) to help their clients develop coping skills, encourage them to record their thoughts throughout the week as they occur, and attempt exposure therapy if appropriate for their disorder (read more below).
DBT: Dialectical behavioral therapy is a specific type of CBT. The term "dialectics" refers to a philosophical practice of examining multiple or often contradictory ideas, combining acceptance and change simultaneously. For example, a patient can accept where she is in her life and also feel motivated to improve it. DBT places an emphasis on mindfulness, enabling people to recognize and attempt to understand thoughts as they occur.
Exposure Therapy: As this term suggests, exposure therapy gradually exposes an individual to the feared situation in a safe, controlled environment. Eliminating the actual fear is the ultimate goal. Practitioners begin by having the patient repeatedly imagine the feared situation or object and potential responses to it. Often used in treating OCD, phobias, and PTSD, this therapy may incorporate virtual reality or computer simulations to create a more realistic yet completely safe method of exposure.
Group Therapy: The phrase "group therapy" describes a few therapeutic environments6 with participants beyond a single patient and provider. In addition to normalizing an individual's experience by relating to others, group therapy may offer an alternative for those who are unable to afford one-on-one therapy.
Remedies for anxiety disorder
Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relive some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.
- Get into a healthy sleep routine including going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Avoid using alcohol to help you cope, it will only add to your problems.
- Quitting smoking cigarettes
- Practice deep breathing
- Try aromatherapy
- Drink chamomile tea
- Help Others
- Accepting- it is as it is we tend to fight against distressing thought and feeling, but we can learn to just notice them and give up that struggle.
- See the bigger picture we all give different meaning to situations and see things from our point of view.
- Having fun or being creative help us feel better and increase our confidence.
- Increase your confidence and interest, meet other or prepare for finding work.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.