Anxiety Disorder – Understanding it better

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anxiety disorders

We all have experienced anxiety at some point of time in our life. It can be a date, a test or some competition. Anxiety is a physiological response to a situation. It makes our heart pump more blood and oxygen so that we can cope with the situation at hand. Although it is normal to feel anxious, however at times body’s responses become overwhelming and disruptive. It may occur even when there is no occurrence or identifiable cause. This unprecedented response may last for longer periods which further creates issues such as hypertension, migraine, headache, etc. We classify this response as an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms

As mentioned, we all experience anxiety and hence are familiar with how it feels. However, since most of us have controlled response which lasts for a very short period, the disruption is not built. Symptoms of anxiety disorder are shown when one has longer bouts of physiological response leading to disruption in our processes. 

  • Unable to relax
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Worry about everything a little too much
  • Higher pulse and heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy and nausea
  • Hyperventilation or irregular breathing
  • Shaking, sweating, and having chills
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain, thoughts of death, or having some serious illness

Types of Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a condition where a person simply gets worried about everything and builds the worry beyond practical limits. This leads to stress and tension build-up leading to physical conditions such as fatigue, depression, poor concentration, twitching, muscle tension, etc. 

Panic disorder is a condition in which a situation is interpreted by a person to be beyond control thereby threatening life. Here a person feels sudden and repeated feelings of attack and builds them up in a chained process leading to a certain physical response by the body. One may feel dizziness, unable to breathe, high heart rate, sweating, chest pain. If no one intervenes to calm the attack, it can lead to system failure, heart attack, and even death. 

Phobia is a condition in which a person has irrational fears. The person may no, fear being irrational however is not able to control the situation. These may lead to a panic or anxiety attack.

Social Phobia disorder is a condition in which a person becomes overwhelmingly anxious about a social situation. They have a fear of being judged by others, being embarrassed, or humiliated. 

These days social media interaction has increased Social Phobia patients leading to interference with work, school, and other normal life activities. 

Agoraphobia causes people to suffer anxiety about being in places or situations from which it might be difficult or embarrassing to escape-such as being in a room full of people or an elevator. In some cases, panic attacks can become so debilitating that the person may develop agoraphobia because they fear another panic attack. In extreme cases, a person with agoraphobia may be afraid to leave their house.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition of uncontrollable anxious thoughts or behavior. People suffering from OCD feel an urgent need to engage in a certain ritual or habit. OCD can also be only having obsessive thoughts without a ritual or habit. People may feel the need to wash their hands repeatedly until the skin becomes raw, counting in a certain pattern, rearranging objects to ensure a specific order and/or symmetry, etc. Here the individual is not happy to perform the ritual but feels a temporary relief once the ritual is performed.

Post Trauma Stress Disorder is a condition where a terrifying event such as physical or sexual abuse, car accident, natural disaster, war, etc. triggers a body response similar to anxiety. The response may be of high intensity leading to disruption in physiological conditions. These symptoms can be triggered by anything that reminds them of the trauma.

Separation anxiety- when someone is afraid of being separated from a particular person, or even a pet. Separation anxiety often occurs in children, especially those younger than 2 years old. However, it can also occur in adults.

A child does not yet understand, at this time, that when a parent goes away, they are still nearby and coming back.

Some children also develop physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, at the thought of being separated. The fear of separation causes great distress to the child and may interfere with their normal activities, like going to school or playing with other children.

 How can we help the person suffering from Anxiety disorder

  • Ask the person what they need.
  • Do not try to make any assumptions about the person.
  • Do not surprise or ask unnecessary questions
  • Be patient and a good listener
  • Say encouraging words
  • Avoid unnecessary counseling such as “Don’t be anxious”. “Don’t be ridiculous”. Do not blame the person

Self Help

Most often during a calm period, a person realizes the disorder. Some people believe that one can overcome these disorders by sheer willpower, but this is unlikely. One must not hesitate in getting help from professionals. 

Treatment

If someone you know has any of the symptoms of anxiety disorder, you must help the person understand the issue and the importance of professional intervention. Like any other disease or illness, this is an illness that is curable with timely medical intervention. There are many psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or counselors who can help.

There are two types of treatments namely medication and psychotherapy. Both are effective and have proven results. The choice of treatment depends on the patient’s situation.  

Article By: Savanah Chandok

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