Anxiety is a common term used in our daily conversation without realizing the weightage of it. Usually, we come across some people who treat mental health as some sort of disease or taboo; however, it is just a phase of a person’s life. Anxiety disorder can lead to a person’s underperformance or lack of confidence. In some parts of India depression, anxiety, and mental health is considered a disease. Often people put a nametag of a psycho or mad person who has lost their mind hurting their sentiments. Life can become a rocky road where your car gets stuck or break down just like your brain does not function properly for a bit. Anxiety can be considered a result of stress.
When a person is anxious, the body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine), into the bloodstream. These act on muscles, the heart, and other parts of the body to cause symptoms, such as sweaty palms or a thumping heartbeat.
A person’s daily struggle with stress can lead to mental instability, depression, negativity, and anxiety. This will result in self-doubting, self-loathing, and comparing oneself.
Anxiety is a response to all the stress we burden ourselves with. Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.
In some part of India people does not even prefer to talk about anxiety and thinks it is just their lack of self-esteem. Having no proper professional guidance, they struggle in their daily life and making it hard for themselves and the people around them.
Anxiety has no age bar as it can start from a young age, even in children to adults.
A person can be occasionally anxious but if this anxiety is an everyday hustle, then the problem can make your mental health worse. Therefore, proper treatment at a proper time should be given its due importance.
Anxiety can knock on your door at any given stage of life; it does not differentiate between age and sex. However, women are more prone to anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a kind of emotional baggage that attacks your inner conflict or nervousness and booms out as chaos.
Anxiety disorders have very high morbidity including substance abuse, alcoholism, and major depression. In addition, constant anxiety also increases the risk of adverse cardiac events. In others, anxiety impairs the ability to develop social relationships and worsens the quality of life. Severe anxiety has also been linked to high rates of suicide.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of excessive, intense, and persistent fear and worries about an uncertain outcome. A mental disorder where it indicates an underlying disease when excessive worry or fear takes over your feelings consuming your mental stability. One can feel anxious from time to time. In fact, anxiety is a very normal response to stressful life events like changing jobs, having financial issues, or moving. However, it becomes abnormal if anxiety interferes with your daily activities. When you are anxious you feel fearful and tense. It may be accompanied by one or more symptoms.
Stress and Anxiety
What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
- Chest pain
- Fast breathing (hyperventilation)
- A fast heart rate
- Thumping heart (palpitations)
- Nausea – A feeling of sickness
- Shaking (tremor)
- Dry mouth
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Types of Anxiety Disorder
- Agoraphobia: Fear of places where it might be difficult or embarrassing to escape if a panic attack should occur (crowds, on public transport, or in closed spaces, eg, elevators). Fear of being alone is also common. and make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed.
- Due to a medical condition: includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem. A major health issue can induce prolonged anxiety and lead to a disorder.
- Panic disorder: Repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). Anxiety attacks of sudden onset, with physical manifestations of anxiety (eg, palpitations, sweating, tremor, dry mouth, dyspnea, feeling of choking; chest pain; abdominal discomfort; feeling of unreality, paresthesia, etc). Panic attacks can arise out of the blue; however, many patients start to avoid situations in which they fear that panic attacks might occur.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even related to ordinary, routine issues. Do not confuse it is concerned, the worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance and is difficult to control. Patients suffer from somatic anxiety symptoms (tremor, palpitations, dizziness, nausea, muscle tension, etc.) and from psychic symptoms, including concentrating, nervousness, insomnia, and constant worry, eg, that they (or a relative) might have an accident or become ill.
- Selective mutism: It is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work, and social functioning.
- Separation anxiety disorder: This is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles. This is often observed in children who have lost their parents or siblings recently.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): A high level of anxiety, fear, and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment or disrespect, This is related to self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others. Patients are afraid of situations in which they are the center of attention and maybe criticized—eg, public speaking, visits to authorities, conversations with superiors on the job, or with persons of the opposite sex. They are afraid of appearing clumsy, embarrassing themselves, or being judged negatively.
- Specific phobias: Major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias are restricted to singular, circumscribed situations, often related to animals (eg, cats, spiders, or insects), or other natural phenomena (eg, blood, heights, deep water). Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder: Symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of drugs, withdrawal from drugs, medications, and being exposed to a toxic substance.
Start by seeing your family doctor to find out if your anxiety could be related to your physical health. He or she should be able to detect underlying medical conditions that may need treatment. If it still does not improve, you may need to see a mental health specialist. People with Anxiety may further avoid psychologists due to the social pressure of being tagged as one with mental issues. There are numerous telehealth platforms like: www.kareoptions.com which can provide medical consultation on your situation with complete secrecy and you can choose a doctor who is located in a different state or even a different country.
To diagnose an anxiety disorder, your Phycologist or mental health provider may use:
- Psychological evaluation: This involves discussing your thoughts, feelings, and behavior to help pinpoint a diagnosis and check for related complications. One should be honest with his or her doctor as not presenting the truth could lead to misdiagnosis.
- Compare your symptoms to the criteria in the DSM-5: Compare your situation with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Type of Treatments for Anxiety
Doctors may use two main treatments for anxiety disorders — psychotherapy and medications. Either one or a combination can be used to treat the person. There are alternative self-help or lifestyle modification methods that could help.
Psychotherapy (a.k.a talk therapy or psychological counseling)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions. It can include a combination of structural therapy and self-help methods. CBT includes identifying distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors. It will help to find ways to address the situation using seven different but interconnected modalities: behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal factors, and drug/biological considerations.
Benzodiazepines are the best sedatives used to relax your muscles and calm your mind. This medication functions by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, a certain type of chemicals that convey messages between your brain cells. Benzodiazepines have a great effect on anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Some common drug examples include Alprazolam (Xanax), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan)
Benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety treatment only for a short period because of their side effect which includes drowsiness along with memory problem. There’s a constant occurrence of headaches, confusion, vision problem, and depression. More than two weeks of medicine consumption and stopping abruptly can lead to a seizure. The best solution can be consulting your doctor and gradually tapering off.
Buspirone works for both short-term anxiety and chronic (long-lasting) anxiety disorders. It’s a mystery to understand how it functions, but doctors believe it works on chemicals in our brain that regulate our mood. It usually takes its course of time to be fully effective. Available as a generic drug and as a drug named Buspar. Common side effects include dizziness, headaches, and nausea while some report strange dreams and sleep issues while taking buspirone.
Used to treat anxiety disorder but takes four to six weeks to show any effects. Antidepressant medications affect neurotransmitters.
Types of antidepressants include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase levels of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that deals with our mood, sexual desires, appetite, sleep, and memory. It is usually prescribed as a low dose and gradually gets increased by your doctors. Escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) are some drugs used to treat anxiety disorders. Side effects include nausea, dry mouth, muscle weakness, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, and sexual dysfunction. Consulting a doctor is crucial for the treatment.
Tricyclics are used to treat most anxiety disorders like SSRIs except obsessive-compulsion disorder (OCD). Tricyclics and SSRIs have many similarities, prescribed in low doses and increased gradually. Clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil). Nowadays it is less in practice as new drugs have fewer side effects. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, lack of energy, and dry mouth. Some more side effects are nausea, vomiting, constipation, blurred vision, and weight gain.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) increase the number of transmitters that regulate mood and functions to treat panic disorder and social phobia. MAOIs, FDA-approved for the treatment of depression are often used off-label for anxiety including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and selegiline (Emsam), tranylcypromine (Parnate). Side effects are the non-consumption of certain foods like cheese and red wine, medicine like birth control pills, pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, cold and allergy medications, and herbal supplements that can react with MAOIs causing life-threatening results. Being an old drug it is used less as compared to new drugs because of side effects and restrictions.
Beta-blockers are used in the treatment of heart issues. Often used off-label to treat anxiety-relieving the physical symptom. Usually, before some event, your doctor might prescribe beta-blockers like propranolol (Inderal) that can reduce your social anxiety.
Not everyone faces the side effect of consuming beta-blockers. However common side effects include fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Home remedies can be proved as the most beneficial remedy as they ease your symptoms within your territory without any anxiety. Along with medication, certain home remedies can make the treatment speedy and reliable. Several home remedies are used by people including:
Relaxation techniques: May reduce anxiety in people with chronic medical problems and those who are having medical procedures. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of psychotherapy) may be more helpful than relaxation techniques in treating at least some types of anxiety disorders.
Moving that body might help: Studies suggest that meditative movement therapies (tai chi, qi gong, or yoga) might reduce anxiety. Exercise is effective for your overall lifestyle It not works for your body but also relaxes your mind. It produces endorphins which are considered natural painkillers that can also improve your sleep habit. A brisk workout can be as powerful as a drug to uplift your mood.
Heal with your inner self: Meditation is present in our culture and passed on through generations. Meditation is the most effective practice and if followed diligently then it has the power to change a person’s perspective on life. Meditation is something that should be done for yourself and you’re your body. A 10minute quiet time and meditation can make your life peaceful and calm. Meditation can also be practiced by listening to some soothing mantras or music daily. Yoga is also one such thing that can make your soul happy and relieve your anxiety.
Indulge in some smell aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is proven to be effective and is passed on by our ancestors. Diluted aromatherapy oil fragrances reduce anxiety and calm your brain. It helps to ease and relax your mind leaving behind all the worries. Lavender, neroli, and chamomile are some of the amazing essential oil that helps to relieve an anxious person.
Listening to Music: There is evidence that listening to music can reduce anxiety during illness or medical treatment.
Limit or avoid your everyday dose of caffeine: Caffeine works differently with people. Some people find it soothing while some can get jittery and more anxious. Some people can avoid it to be less anxious
Acupuncture: Although some studies suggest that acupuncture might reduce anxiety, the research is too limited.
Hypnosis: Hypnosis has been studied for anxiety related to medical or dental procedures. Some studies have had promising results, but the overall evidence is not conclusive.
Tea: There are many cultures where tea is considered a stress reliever. Korean and Japanese culture is known for their tea and the benefits it has. Having chamomile tea or chamomile supplement can ease anxiety. Drinking chamomile tea can ease your mind and make you less anxious. Studies suggest that a chamomile extract might be helpful in managing generalized anxiety disorder
Kava may have a beneficial effect on anxiety.
Melatonin has been studied as a possible alternative to conventional anxiety-reducing drugs for patients who are about to have surgery, and the results have been promising.
Simple self-help steps that can help you to cope with Anxiety
- Breathing Exercise – Anxiety reduces when you clear your mind of worry and bring your awareness back to the present.
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose. Focus on the air touching your nostrils as you breathe in and breath out.
- Continue to breathe normally, in and out of your nose. While continuing to focus on the nostrils. Allow your breath to be a guide to the present. Think that you are breathing out all your worries with the air.
- Do this exercise for five minutes daily.
2. Understand the surroundings – Focus on what bothering you and whenever you feel anxious, try to figure out what is bothering you. Find a calm place and explore your thoughts and feelings. Focus on what you can control and what you cannot. Replace your fears by changing your attitude. For example, stop fearing about losing your job and instead focus on how you can do your best under given circumstances.
3. Engage yourself in other things – That interest you and have been less anxiety-provoking. Reach out to your friends or engage yourself in other housework like chores or organizing around the house, walk or engage in some other form of physical exercise, read a good book or watch a funny movie.
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