What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Everyone experiences anxiety occasionally. Anxiety is often a normal reaction of the brain to stress and potential danger. For example, an individual may feel anxious just before a test or when faced with an important decision. While it’s normal to feel anxious occasionally, it becomes a problem when excessive.
An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition where one experiences constant anxiety and fear. Anxiety disorders can hinder one’s progress in day-to-day activities as one is rendered unable to focus.1 In addition, anxiety disorders result in physical symptoms such as sweating and dizziness in some cases. Although anxiety disorders are treatable, less than 40% of people living with anxiety disorders seek treatment for it.2 Read on for some tips for managing anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, and the most common are highlighted below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD for short, is the most common type of anxiety disorder.3 It results in unusual, constant, and unfounded feelings of worry and tension. An individual suffering from GAD will feel pressure and tension for no apparent reason. GAD prevents a person from getting work done effectively as they’re constantly worried about everyday life issues that they shouldn’t be worried about. Individuals suffering from generalized anxiety disorder will often exhibit restlessness, fatigue, loss of concentration, and inability to sleep.
Panic disorders result in brief and intense attacks of fear and apprehension. Panic disorders invoke the strongest feelings among all forms of anxiety disorders.4 A panic disorder may occur unprovoked or may be triggered by certain situations. Due to the severity of the symptoms of a panic attack, the individual suffering from it often misinterprets it as a life-threatening condition. Panic attacks are accompanied by palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and the fear of death, among other symptoms.
A phobia is an intense and excessive fear of a specific object or situation. Most people with phobias know that their fear is irrational but can’t control it.5 A phobia will often result in the individual going to great lengths to avoid the object of their phobia. A phobia can be triggered by anything from spiders to flying and public speaking.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where emergency rescue or escape may be difficult. For example, a person with agoraphobia may be scared to get into elevators, airplanes, or crowded rooms. Individuals who have agoraphobia may be unable to overcome their fear of certain locations without a companion. Untreated agoraphobia can result in the individual being unable to leave their home.
Anxiety Risk Factors
While the exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, the following anxiety risk factors can contribute to whether a person develops anxiety disorders or not. Some anxiety risk factors are environmental, such as work conditions, relationships issues, and child abuse. Other anxiety risk factors are genetic, as anxiety disorders have been found to run in some families. Anxiety disorders may also arise as a withdrawal symptom from abstaining from an illicit substance. Finally, clinical treatments and medications can also lead to anxiety disorders.
When Is My Anxiety Harmful?
As it has been established that anxiety can be normal and rational, we have to know when it becomes excessive and harmful. Anxiety becomes harmful when it prevents one from focusing on the tasks at hand or thinking clearly. In addition, extreme anxiety can mess up the fight or flight responses of the body, leading to the improper release of hormones.6 This can then result in symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, muscle tension, and headaches. Excessive anxiety can suppress the immune system, cause memory loss, and even a heart attack in severe cases.
Signs of an Anxiety AttackAn anxiety attack’s main symptoms are excessive worry and fear.7 However, depending on the type of anxiety disorder, one can experience different symptoms. Some of the most common signs of anxiety are listed below.
- Feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Flashbacks to traumatic events
- Trouble with sleep
Tips for Managing Anxiety in the MomentWhile a specialist should manage severe anxiety disorders, overcoming anxiety is possible at home. The following tips for managing anxiety will help you overcome it.
Focus on Your BreathingDeep breathing can help you overcome your anxiety. Taking deep and slow breaths while sitting or lying down in a comfortable position is an effective means of overcoming situational anxiety.
Move Your BodyPhysical exertion can help you improve your image of yourself, which is important for overcoming anxiety. Exercise also leads to the release of certain chemicals that generate a positive feeling.
Clear Your Mind Through MeditationMeditation is an effective practice to overcome anxiety mentally. It helps you to soothe both your mind and body. This can improve mental health by dealing with anxiety naturally and reducing anxiety symptoms.
Connect with Someone You TrustConversing with a person you trust, such as a family member or a close friend, can be instrumental in overcoming situational anxiety.
Figuring Out What’s Causing AnxietyUnderstanding your triggers can be key to overcoming your anxiety. The following can help you discover what triggers your anxiety.
- Write your story: Journaling is a great way to discover the cause of your anxiety. Take note of when you feel anxious, along with what you think led to the trigger.
- Learning to accept what you’re resisting: To discover the cause of your anxiety, you need to be honest with yourself. Then, explore things in your past patiently, and you may be able to uncover the cause of your anxiety.
- When there is no clear cause: In this case, you may have to speak with a therapist. A person with training will have better success discovering your trigger than yourself.
Tips for Managing Anxiety in the Long TermWhen coping with anxiety, you should try to find things you’re grateful for. Also, taking notes of the daily improvements in the journey to overcoming your anxiety is a good way of enforcing in your subconscious that you’re growing above triggers. Negative thoughts only serve to worsen your anxiety. Also, make sure to take care of your diet, cut down on caffeine use, and not abuse illicit substances. Finally, regular exercise and good sleep are the best ways to manage anxiety.
Treatment for Anxiety DisordersTreatment for anxiety disorder will usually include the following:
MedicationsDifferent drugs can be used in the treatment of anxiety disorders.8 Doctors will usually decide the best medication for you after discussing the pros and cons of each drug. Medicines will often include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics.
Therapy involves counseling on the effects of your emotions on your behavior. Therapy involves a trained professional who then suggests methods to manage and cope with your anxiety disorder. For example, a therapist will discuss ways of mentally overcoming anxiety and ultimately beating anxiety.