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What Is Anxiety Disorder? | MedGuidance

What Is Anxiety Disorder?

Everyone experiences anxiety at some point throughout his or her life. It is actually one way in which the body prepares itself and copes with difficult situations. It is quite normal to feel anxious when you face a problem or when you are faced with hard choices. The fact that you feel anxious does not mean that you suffer from anxiety or need to see a professional for help. However, if you do suffer from an anxiety disorder, this can affect how well you cope and have negatively effects.

Types of Anxiety Disorder

1.     Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder is feeling consistently anxious, even if the situation does not affect it. A diagnosis of GAD is usually made when the constant state of worry persists for six months or more. Although GAD is possible in anyone, women are moe easily affected than men. Treating someone with GAD generally involves either medication, cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of the two.

2.     Phobias

A phobia is an extreme and persistent fear of an item or a particular situation which usually is not harmful. People who experience phobias will do anything to avoid what makes them fearful. The three main types of phobias are specific phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia.

3.     Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is a form of anxiety in which the person experiences sudden spasms of extreme fear. These attacks happen suddenly, and reacha peak after 10 minutes and may continue for hours. It is often associated with nausea, confusion and difficulty breathing. A panic attack may either be spontaneous or happen after an extended period of stress. The sufferer usually becomes acutely aware of the way his body is responding to the stress and assumes that it is a severe and potentially fatal.

4.     Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People who suffer from OCD tend to dwell on particular concerns or thoughts. They respond or cope by setting up particular routines. This disorder is characterized by repetitive behaviors or gestures such as doing things in a certain order or in a particular way. Anyone can develop OCD. Treatment involves medication or psychotherapy.

5.     Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A person can develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic situation such as abuse, rape or a death. The sufferer is plagued by flashbacks of the event which will in turn lead them to try to avoid anything or anyone which reminds them of the situation. They often feel anxious and on edge. The disorder is usually treated with medication or through therapy sessions where the person must talk about the horrific events.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Some common symptoms of anxiety disorder include:

  • Feeling restless
  • Tiring easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Having a “blank” feeling
  • Easily irritated
  • Tense muscles
  • Trouble with sleep

It is quite possible for anxiety that is related to specific or social phobias to cause the person to avoid certain situations or people. This can eventually escalate into panic. In addition to other general symptoms, some other signs that may come about as a result of PTSD include:

  • Avoiding anything or anyone that will trigger a memory of the event
  • Experience of frequent hallucinations, flashbacks and nightmares
  • Mistrust
  • Going overboard with safety precautions
  • Easily frightened
  • Pessimism about the future

Anxiety may intensify, turning into a panic attack. This can have both physical and emotional consequences including:

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Discomfort in the chest area
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upset stomach
  • Shakes
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling detached from reality and your own sense of self
  • Fear of a loss of control
  • Feelings of numbness
  • Chills
  • The sensation of choking
  • Fear of imminent danger
  • Feeling that you are about to die

When to See a Doctor

You should contact your doctor when anxiety and its symptoms are not readily diagnosed or treated. Consider the intensity of the anxiety disorder, some of the symptoms will require immediate medical attention and treatment.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders can arise from a number of different factors. These may be medical, environmental, genetics, the effects of substance use and abuse or as a result of your brain chemistry. However, the most common trigger is stress which can be either external or internally focused. You can raise your levels of anxiety by constantly putting yourself down. You may find out more about these factors by reading our article “What Causes Anxiety.”

Treatments of Anxiety Disorder

1.     Psychological Counseling

This is a form of talk therapy which the person suffering from anxiety talks with a therapist to find ways to deal with the symptoms and causes of the disorder. The most effective form of this type of counseling is cognitive behavioral therapy. It is usually short term and involves teaching the skills to gradually return to normalcy.

2.     Medications

There are a few different choices of medication used to treat anxiety disorders. These include the following:

  • ŸAntidepressants. These types of medication affect the chemicals in the brain which cause anxiety disorders. Examples of some common antidepressants are fluoxitine, imipramine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, citalopram, and escitalopram, among others that may be recommended by your doctor.
  • ŸBuspirone. Buspirone has proven to be very effective when used consistently to treat anxiety disorders. However, it takes a few weeks to take effect fully.
  • ŸBenzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are well known sedatives which may be recommended for treating anxiety disorders. However, they are most effective for short term and are not to be used if you have issues with substance abuse. Some examples are alprazolam, librium and valium.

How to Live with Anxiety Disorder

In addition to counseling and taking medication, certain lifestyle changes may also be necessary to further control anxiety disorders.

  • Make physical activity a routine. Try exercise which is a great way to relax as well as improve your physique. Begin slowly and then take more exercises gradually.
  • Try not to take alcohol or sedatives which may only worsen your anxiety.
  • Reduce the amount of nicotine and caffeine that you consume.
  • Practice various methods of relaxation. Meditation and yoga can relieve anxiety.
  • Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. If this is an issue, you should see your doctor.
  • Eat smart. Having sufficient vegetables, fruits and lean meat may have some effect on reducing anxiety.

Watch the video below to learn how to prevent anxiety:

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