What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness or apprehension arising out of anticipation of danger. In anxiety usually, the danger perceived is the internal i.e. the person perceives a particular situation as an issue eg. anxiety while performing on stage. While anxiety is a normal thing experienced by individuals, it becomes a mental health problem when it causes significant distress to the individual and is disrupting the day to day routine.
What causes Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety can be precipitated by various situations. People having generalized anxiety disorder have anxiety due to some events or certain activities including their routine ones. The distress they experience is greater than the problem itself and is extremely problematic. Not always people with anxiety disorder face distress in their normal lifestyle. Sometimes symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can occur in social situations, going to certain places, phobias, meeting certain people, etc. It can get triggered in situations like losing loved ones, etc.
What are the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?
- Feeling of extreme nervousness, distress to an extent that it is affecting normal routine of the individual
- Difficulty in breathing
- Increased heart rate (person becomes aware of their heartbeats)
- A feeling of impending doom (the person feels as if he/ she is going to die)
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Feeling tired
- The urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety attacks
- Unable to concentrate
How is Anxiety diagnosed?
There are no specific investigations for anxiety disorder. The diagnosis is based on the doctor asking several questions like
- Details of attacks
- What triggers them
- How often they occur
- The intensity
The questions about underlying medical conditions like heart problems etc., addictions and medications of the individual help the doctor to understand whether the anxiety is due to physical or a psychological issue.
Investigations advised by the doctor can be:
What is the treatment for Anxiety?
On clinical terms the treatment is based on the cause of anxiety i. e. whether it is physical or psychological.
Various medications like sleeping pills when stopped can lead to anxiety due to their withdrawal. People addicted to alcohol or other narcotic drugs for a very long time get anxiety attacks as a part of their withdrawal syndrome. Hence, rehabilitation programs are essential for such individuals. There are certain tumours as well as other medical problems which can lead to anxiety and their treatment helps the patient. If the distress is extreme, sleeping medications, anti-anxiety medications are prescribed to the individual.
In cases where the cause is psychological, the counseling is the first line of treatment along with medications like anti-anxiety pills, sleeping medications, etc. to aid them. These medications should be taken as per the instructions of the doctor. The family support is an integral part of treatment.
What are the complications of Anxiety Disorder?
- Constant state of fatigue
- Impaired performance at work, constant stress
- Substance abuse
- Social isolation
- Digestive problems
- Insomnia – the inability to sleep at night
- Suicidal tendencies
What are the lifestyle modifications for Anxiety Disorder?
It is important to understand that anxiety disorder is a real problem and not something that an individual can fake. It significantly affects the patient both mentally and physically. Hence help should be sought as soon as possible and this should not be ignored.
At times the individual themselves may deny since psychiatric illness is seen as a stigma in the society but it is important for the family to support the patient and get them the proper treatment. They should be motivated to take their medications on time and meet their therapist regularly. They should be encouraged to talk about their emotions and positive psychological environment should be maintained around them.
Patients should be encouraged to socialize. They should be encouraged to indulge in activities that have a positive effect on them like their hobbies etc. It is important for the patient to have a healthy lifestyle. A good diet, healthy sleeping habits and a positive outlook aid the patient recovery.
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