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What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a human emotion which is a response to the stress and dangers an individual faces. Occasional feelings of anxiety is a part of life. But if this state of anxiety becomes frequent with constant feelings of overwhelm and fear or terror which interfere with one's daily life activities, then this phenomenon is therefore termed as an anxiety disorder and is a mental health disorder which affects 30% of the adults. When exposed to a scary situation, an individual’s response is either fight or flight. Anxiety disorders therefore can make a person triggered due to these situations or people which causes symptoms which can worsen over time. It can be controlled and treated, given the correct diagnosis and assistance.



Types and Symptoms:




Generalized anxiety disorder:


This disorder displays excessive worry, anxiety or tension which is usually unrealistic for simple daily life issues. The feelings become out of proportion, uncontrollable and start affecting mental and physical health. It can last for six months or prolonged if not paid attention to. It could affect social interaction, the work and home environment of an individual.




Panic disorder:


Panic disorder involves sudden recurring episodes of anxiousness that peak to panic attacks. This is an overwhelming physical and psychological anguish, with intense fear, sweat breakouts, trouble breathing, chest pains, palpitations, choking feeling. Sometimes an individual having a panic attack might feel like they are undergoing a heart attack or feelings of impending doom.




Phobias:


Phobia is an internse, irrational fear of a specific situation or object. Although it’s ordinary to be anxious in certain situations, this fear is out of proportion to the actual danger that is or can be caused in that situation or by that object. It is marked by extreme anxiety/distress and avoiding situations which cause the anxiety.




Social anxiety:


This was previously called social phobia. Social anxiety disorder involves being self conscious in everyday simple activities, there is fear and anxiousness over social performances in situations. An individual having this disorder worries that their actions in social situations (such as schools, colleges or workplace) will be negatively viewed by people which makes people enduringly avoid such situations.




with social anxiety disorder have a general intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations. They worry that actions or behaviors associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated or judged by others, leading them to feel overwhelmed or embarrassed. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. Social anxiety disorder can manifest in a range of situations, such as within the workplace or the school environment.




Agoraphobia:


This is a fear of being in a situation where an individual with agoraphobia thinks it's difficult or impossible to escape. Their symptoms are of panic or embarrassment. The fear is intense which affects daily life activities. This includes fear of - using public transport, of open or confined places etc. the individual might feel helpless and avoid such situations that make the individual feel this way.Untreated agoraphobia can cause a severe case of that individual being homebound.



Separation anxiety:


There is a common misconception that separation anxiety is only among children. This anxiety disorder goes beyond the age an is an extreme, persistent fear of being parted or detached to people they love or are close to. This leads to constant worrying of them being parted from their loved ones, drawing sceanrios in their heads about harm being inflicted on their attachment figures which might lead them to be separated. This leads them to having nightmares, distress which starts in childhood and can continue into adulthood.



Causes/ Risk Factors:


The cause of anxiety disorders are not definitively known but there are a number of risk factors that play a role in these disorders and are as follows:


  • Personality

  • Genetics

  • Negative Environmental/Psychological Development

  • Certain physical health conditions

  • Other mental disorders like depression/OCD

  • Stress, Trauma

  • Drugs and alcohol


Treatment:


Anxiety can be treated with therapy, counselling and medication and antidepressants too. One could also join support groups as people share their coping strategies from first hand experience.The symptoms should not be ignored. It's beneficial to seek help at an early stage else it becomes harder to treat as time passes. Therapies include psychotherapy, talk therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, which can help an individual with anxiety better control their anxiousness and cope with them with a new thinking perspective.

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