general anxiety disorder

Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Causes and Symptoms

What is Anxiety?

The emotions of fear, trepidation, and discomfort are the hallmarks of anxiety. Physical symptoms including stress, perspiration, restlessness, and a fast heartbeat might be signs of it. Anxiety can be a coping technique even if it is a normal reaction to stress, such as when faced with a difficult job challenge, an exam, or a big choice. Anxiety can occasionally increase energy or improve attention. On the other hand, those who suffer from anxiety disorders feel intense, overpowering terror all the time.

Despite their frequent interchangeability, fear and anxiety are not the same thing. Anxiety is a longer-lasting, more future-focused reaction that includes a generalized disquiet in the face of an unclear threat. Fear, on the other hand, is a targeted reaction to a particular and recognizable threat that is suitable for the present.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorder, that does not go away and may perhaps get worse with time is the hallmark of anxiety disorders. These ailments can have a major effect on day-to-day functioning, which includes relationships, academic goals, and work performance. Anxiety disorder symptoms can cause problems in several areas of daily living.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Various anxiety disorders exist

Generalized anxiety disorder: You feel excessively anxious and tense; this anxiety may not be justified or have any discernible cause.

Panic Anxiety disorder: You have strong, unexpected bouts of terror that turn into panic attacks. Chest discomfort, sweating, and palpitations—a fast or hammering heartbeat—can all be signs of these panic episodes. You could occasionally feel as though you’re choking or that you’re suffering a heart attack.

Social Anxiety disorder: Excessive worry and self-consciousness in everyday social interactions are symptoms of social anxiety disorder, sometimes referred to as social phobia. You can constantly worry that people will criticize, humiliate, or make fun of you.

Specific phobias as Anxiety Disorder: You have an intense dread of anything in particular, like flying or heights. This dread is more intense than is acceptable, and it could make you avoid circumstances that are common to that fear.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an Anxiety Disorder: Chronic obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is typified by recurrent, uncontrolled thoughts (called obsessions), repeated actions (called compulsions), or both. OCD sufferers deal with symptoms that take up a lot of time, which causes them great discomfort and interferes greatly with their everyday lives.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an Anxiety Disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real disorder that develops when a person has experienced or witnessed a scary, shocking, terrifying, or dangerous event. These stressful or traumatic events usually involve a situation where someone’s life has been threatened or severe injury has occurred.

Anxiety Attacks vs Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks typically manifest in the presence of a trigger, although they can also occur spontaneously. These episodes are characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms, which can be disruptive and may involve a feeling of detachment or disconnection from one’s surroundings. Although intense, panic attack symptoms generally subside within a few minutes.

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety arises in response to a perceived stress or threat and has the potential to develop gradually over time. The intensity of anxiety symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In contrast to the brief duration of panic attacks, anxiety symptoms tend to endure for longer periods. Anxiety attack symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth, restlessness, tense muscles, excessive worry

Causes and Risk Factors of Anxiety

Like other mental illnesses, anxiety disorders are not the result of character faults, personal weakness, or problems from childhood. Researchers are not entirely sure, yet, what precisely causes anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are thought to arise from a confluence of variables, including:

Chemical imbalance in the brain: Extended or high-intensity stress can upset the delicate chemical balance in the brain that controls mood. A substantial amount of stress over an extended period can exacerbate the development of anxiety disorders.

Environmental factors: Experiencing a stressful incident can trigger the formation of anxiety disorders, especially in people with heightened susceptibility or a genetic predisposition.

Genetic factors: Anxiety disorders frequently exhibit a family pattern, suggesting a propensity for intergenerational transmission. Just like with physical characteristics like eye color, anxiety problems can be inherited from one or both of your parents.

Trauma: Being a part of a military battle or experiencing abuse are examples of current or past traumatic events that might increase the risk of developing an anxiety condition. Being around someone who has experienced trauma or being present during a traumatic incident can also increase the likelihood of acquiring anxiety.

Many people may have anxiety after an upsetting or disturbing event; this condition is known as acute distress disorder (ASD). On the other hand, symptoms may indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they last for a long period. PTSD symptoms usually appear three months after the incident, however they can potentially appear months or even years later.

Common symptoms of PTSD encompass:

  • Flashbacks
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Persistent feelings of being on high alert
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Avoidance of triggers that may elicit stress symptoms

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

While anxiety symptoms vary from person to person, when anxiety strikes, the body usually reacts in a particular way. Anxiety causes the body to become very alert, looking for possible dangers and triggering the fight-or-flight reaction. As a result, the following are some common signs of anxiety:

Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
  • Sensations of danger, panic, or dread
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased or shallow breathing, sometimes leading to hyperventilation
  • Heightened or excessive sweating
  • Trembling or muscle twitching
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating or having clear thoughts unrelated to the source of anxiety
  • Insomnia or difficulties with sleep
  • Digestive or gastrointestinal issues like gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Strong avoidance tendencies towards anxiety triggers
  • Obsessive thoughts, which can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Engaging in repetitive behaviors
  • Anxiety specifically related to past traumatic experiences, particularly suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Effect of Anxiety on your Body

Effect of anxiety on your body can include:

  • A sense of stomach churning
  • Feeling light-headed or experiencing dizziness
  • Sensations of pins and needles
  • Restlessness or an inability to stay seated
  • Headaches, backaches, or other bodily pains
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating or experiencing hot flushes
  • Sleep problems
  • Teeth grinding, especially at night
  • Nausea or feelings of being sick
  • Changes in urinary frequency
  • Fluctuations in sexual desire
  • Experiencing panic attacks

Effects of Anxiety on your Mind

These symptoms can manifest as:

  • Feeling tense, nervous, or unable to unwind
  • Experiencing a sense of impending doom or anticipating the worst
  • Sensations of time either speeding up or slowing down
  • Believing that others can perceive your anxiety and are scrutinizing you
  • Feeling unable to cease worrying or fearing negative consequences if you stop worrying
  • Concerns about anxiety itself, such as anticipating when panic attacks may occur
  • Seeking excessive reassurance from others or worrying about their potential anger or displeasure
  • Fearing detachment from reality
  • Experiencing low mood and depression
  • Engaging in rumination, where negative experiences or situations are deeply pondered
  • Depersonalization, a form of dissociation involving a sense of detachment from the mind or body, as if observing oneself in a movie
  • Derealization, another form of dissociation characterized by feeling disconnected from the surrounding world or perceiving it as unreal
  • Excessive worry regarding future events and potential outcomes

Treatment of Anxiety

Anxiety treatment options can be divided into three primary categories:

1. Psychological treatments: often known as talking therapies: Through counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or other psychosocial interventions that emphasize psychological well-being, these therapeutic modalities seek to regulate anxiety symptoms and address the underlying causes.

2. Medication-based physical treatments: To reduce anxiety symptoms and enhance well-being, doctors may prescribe antidepressants or anxiety drugs.

3. Self-help and alternative therapies: These methods might be helpful in treating symptoms of anxiety, depending on the particular form of anxiety. These methods can be applied on their own or in conjunction with medical and psychiatric therapies. These strategies include self-help techniques, mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques, and complementary therapies like acupuncture or yoga.

A comprehensive assessment by a medical practitioner is required to ascertain the best course of action for a particular patient. Your physician can evaluate to ascertain the best course of action for handling your anxiety.

anxiety disorders treatment and causes

4. Psychological treatments: Talking therapies, often known as psychological treatments, can be given in person, in a group, or even virtually. These treatments seek to address the root causes of anxiety, improve coping strategies for life’s obstacles, encourage behavioral changes, and stop relapses in the future. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) best for panic attack treatment exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy (IPT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, positive psychology interventions, other types of psychotherapy, counseling, and story therapy are among the therapies available for anxiety.

Medication, and psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” or a mix of the two are commonly used as social anxiety treatment. To find the best course of action for your unique requirements, it is essential to speak with a healthcare professional. Evidence points to the possibility that virtual therapies, or “e-mental health programs,” might be equally as successful as in-person ones. Since psychological treatments include symptom control as well as relapse prevention, they are typically regarded as the most effective long-term treatment for anxiety.

5. Physical treatments (medication): Before deciding on medication for anxiety, a doctor should conduct a thorough health check and supervise the treatment. They should explain the medication’s purpose, risks, benefits, side effects, and regular check-ups.

They can also recommend complementary treatments like psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. It’s crucial to note that not all anxiety requires medication, as many individuals respond well to lifestyle changes and psychological treatments.

6. Self-help and alternative therapies: Self-help measures and therapies for anxiety can be used alone or in combination with psychological treatments or medication. Examples include exercise, good nutrition, omega-3 meditation, de-arousal strategies, yoga, massage therapy, relaxation techniques, alcohol and drug avoidance, and acupuncture.

Different types of anxiety respond differently, and severe anxiety may not respond to these therapies alone. They can be valuable adjuncts to psychological and physical treatments.

Beta-blockers for anxiety: Propranolol and atenolol are two beta-blockers commonly prescribed to assist in managing anxiety. When a medication is used off-label, it means that the drug has been approved by the FDA for one specific purpose, but it is being utilized for a different purpose that has not been officially approved.

Treatment of Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD treatment includes

  • Talking therapy, typically a form of therapy, assists individuals in confronting their fears and obsessive thoughts without engaging in compulsions to “correct” them.
  • Medication, usually in the form of antidepressants, can be prescribed to alter the chemical balance in the brain and aid in managing symptoms.

Anxiety Treatment at Home: May be done through the following exercises,

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • B vitamins
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid caffeine
  • More sleep

FAQs about General Anxiety Disorders

Social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia, is a condition that can have a significant influence on a person’s life. It is typified by a chronic and intense fear of social situations. This common issue, which may be quite upsetting, usually manifests throughout adolescence. Many people realize that social anxiety disorder remains and interferes with their daily activities, while some people may find that their symptoms reduce with age.

 Social anxiety symptoms

  • Experiencing feelings of anxiety when in social situations.
  • Feeling excessively self-conscious or hypersensitive to the judgments of others.
  • Experiencing physical manifestations of anxiety, including a rapid heartbeat, perspiration, lightheadedness, and trembling.
  • Experiencing blushing or difficulty speaking fluently.
  • Encountering gastrointestinal distress, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, or feelings of nausea.

Symptoms of Anxiety:

  • Experiencing a sense of restlessness or heightened alertness.
  • Feeling irritable or easily agitated.
  • Experiencing fatigue or a reduced ability to sustain energy.
  • Struggling with concentration or experiencing mental blankness.
  • Having difficulty initiating sleep or maintaining it.
  • Experiencing muscle tension or tightness.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Persistently experiencing a feeling of sadness or a consistently low mood.
  • Feeling a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Having a diminished sense of self-worth or low self-esteem.
  • Feeling prone to tears or frequently tearful.
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt.
  • Feeling easily irritated and having a reduced tolerance for others.
  • Lacking motivation or interest in activities.
  • Encountering challenges in decision-making.
  • Vitamin D3
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Chamomile
  • Valerian root
  • Ashwagandha
  • Kava

Feeling tense, nervous, or unable to relax is biggest system of anxiety

Anxiety can have various effects on the body, such as:

  • – Experiencing a feeling of stomach churning
  • – Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • – Sensations of pins and needles
  • – Restlessness or difficulty remaining seated
  • – Headaches, backaches, or other bodily pains
  • – Increased breathing rate

Stress encompasses any form of demand placed on your mental or physical well-being. It can be triggered by any event or situation that induces feelings of frustration or nervousness. On the other hand, anxiety is characterized by a sense of fear, worry, or unease. While it can arise as a response to stress, it can also manifest without any apparent trigger.

The amygdala, a small structure located deep within the brain, is responsible for processing perceived threats. When it detects signs of danger, it signals the rest of the brain, potentially triggering fear and anxiety responses. This structure appears to play a role in anxiety disorders that involve specific fears, such as phobias related to cats, bees, or drowning.

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