What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is the reaction people have to an unknown or hazardous situation. Most people get anxious at certain points in their lives, such as feeling uneasy before a test; however, Anxiety Disorder brings general anxiety to an entirely new level. For those suffering from this mental illness, daily life gets exponentially harder. It is much more difficult for them to eat, sleep, talk to others, and just function in a normal, healthy and balanced manner. They often feel like their emotions are out of their hands, and they can’t help but act seemingly irrational in situations that others have much less trouble facing. Anxiety Disorder significantly disrupts that person’s normal behavior and way of life.
Anxiety Disorder Subtypes:
- Circumstantial anxiety is the result of stressful events, circumstances or high levels of emotion. A few examples include breaking up or fighting with a partner or significant other, an immense workload from school or work, or death of a loved one.
- Chronic anxiety involves symptoms that reappear over a longer period of time. A few examples here include people that only experience symptoms during certain periods in their life (especially if their life shifts often), or those who have experienced anxiety before and have been on and off medication.
- Spontaneous Anxiety – location is not a contributing factor for disorder
- Situational or Phobic Anxiety – disorder is caused by a specific situation or location
- Anticipatory Anxiety – disorder occurs from a thought that a certain circumstance or situation “might” happen or occur.
- Involuntary Anxiety or Panic – disorder occurs without any former triggers: out of the person’s control
Who is affected?
Anxiety affects over 40 million Americans, or about 18% of the population. Women are twice as likely to develop anxiety as men. Anxiety disorders may be related to genetics, medical conditions, or psychological conditions. Depending on the situation and level of intensity, anyone is at risk of developing an anxiety disorders. Read more.
Causes of Anxiety Disorder:
Researchers are noting that anxiety disorders have a biological composition, meaning that they run in families and may be passed down from one family member to the next. Genetics, neurological chemistry, personality and life events, such as rapid changes in one’s life or high-intensity situations, may also contribute to this disorder’s development.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Watching for signs of danger
- Anticipating worst outcomes
- Inability to concentrate
- Feelings tense and uneasy
- Feeling like your mind has gone blank
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset/GI (gastrointestinal) problems
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension or twitches
- Shaking or trembling
Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack:
- Surge of overwhelming panic
- Feeling of losing control
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Trouble breathing or having a choking sensation
- Hot flashes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Feeling detached or unreal
Source: helpguide.org (Read more)
Treatment must be tailored to the individual because not everybody develops anxiety disorders the same way. Since it may develop from different causes for each individual, some treatments are more effective than others on various people. Common treatments include various therapies, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Treatment (ACT), Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Read more.
Other effective treatments include medication, specifically antidepressants, busiprone, and benzodiazepines (read more), Residential Treatment or Rehab, Complementary and Alternative Treatment, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Complementary Treatment is used alongside conventional treatments, and it, in addition to Alternative Treatment, includes meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and other stress/relaxation techniques. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) sends pulses to one’s forehead using a magnetic field. This process is done repeatedly (about 4 times a week) during the treatment period and is proven to help reduce stress and anxiety.