We all worry about different things in different phases of life – health, job, finance, society, or relationships. This is temporary anxiety and it is a normal part of our lives. But when the worry does not go away, keeps getting worse over a period of time, interferes with daily activities, then this is called an anxiety disorder.
According to World Health Organisation, in 2019, 301 million people suffered from anxiety disorder out of which 58 million were children and teenagers. In 2020, during Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 26% increase in the anxiety disorder.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
An anxiety disorder is a form of mental health condition in which you have fear and dread as a response to some situations and things. While it is normal to have some anxiety as a human being, an anxiety disorder is beyond the normal uneasiness. If you have anxiety disorder you can have a fast heartbeat, sweating, restlessness or obsessive thoughts. There is a possibility of anxiety disorder affecting social life as well.
What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many types of anxiety disorders, some of which include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Phobias, and Separation Anxiety.
Let’s have a brief description of these anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
In Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you feel impractical, extreme worry and strain without the presence of anything that would initiate these feelings. You worry about a wide range of topics like job, health, relationships etc., and this worry carries on from one topic to another. You have difficulty concentrating and sleeping and feel restless all the time.
In a Panic Disorder, you have unexpected intense panic attacks. You have terror feelings which come with or without a trigger situation you dread. During such attacks, you experience sweating, pounding heart, chest pain and a feeling of choking, which resembles a heart attack. You often worry about these attacks and try to avoid conditions that would trigger them.
Phobias are intense fear of particular things or situations. Although some of these fears are valid if you are in that situation being in a house that is ablaze, but often the level of fear is invalid when it comes to phobias you experience. Some of the phobias people experience are:
- Pyrophobia – fear of fire
- Acrophobia – fear of heights
- Aerophobia—fear of flying
- Entomophobia – fear of insects (A similar fear known as arachnophobia is fear of spiders.
- Zoophobia – fear of animals
- Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes
- Cynophobia – fear of dogs
- Hemophobia – fear of seeing blood
- Iatrophobia – fear of seeing a doctor or hospital visit
- Social phobia – worrying about social life
- Agoraphobia – fear of being stuck in situations where you can’t find help
Although this disorder mostly happens to children or teens who have more attachment to their parents, it can affect elders too. Children fear that they will be taken away from their parents or that their parents face a situation and may not return. Among the elders, there might be a fear of spouse abandoning them.
What are Anxiety Disorder Signs and Symptoms
Anxiety disorder signs and symptoms depend on the kind of anxiety disorder you have. Common anxiety disorder signs and symptoms include:
- Mental symptoms like panic, terror, restlessness, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks of trauma, nightmares, etc.
- Physical symptoms like breath shortness, fast heartbeat, nausea, cold or sweaty hands, numb or tingling hands or feet, stiff muscles, dry mouth, etc.
- Behavioral symptoms like having trouble falling asleep, trouble staying still and obsession with certain customs like repeatedly checking the locks on door
What Causes Anxiety Disorder
The exact cause of developing anxiety disorder is not known, but doctors think that it is a complicated combination of following factors:
- Inherited mental health conditions from one or both parents.
- Alteration of body’s stress reaction, affecting the chemicals and stress hormones that transmit information between the nerves.
- The social and environmental stressful experiences like lack of social support, financial crisis and improper survival techniques.
How to Treat Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder recovery can take some time, but the right treatment plan can help make your life come to a normal track. Depending upon the intensity of your anxiety disorder symptoms, you can decide what is the best treatment for you. Some of the options you can try for anxiety disorder treatment are:
Rationalize your extreme thoughts
When you find yourself stuck with extreme thoughts, try to rationalize them with logical explanations. In your mind, you are already aware that your fear is illogical. So, now you should find a good explanation to reassure yourself that your fear is irrational and cannot happen in reality.
Convert your negative thoughts into positive thoughts
Although you don’t realize it, you discourage yourself by saying sentences like “I can’t get well” or “I can never do that”. In order to get rid of anxiety from your life, you have to get rid of all your negative thoughts, and turn them into positive thoughts – “I will be healthy soon”, and “I will accomplish that”.
Use affirmations to create a healthy thought pattern
Affirmations have special powers to turn them into reality. When you keep repeating affirmations throughout the day, your subconscious mind starts finding ways to make it a reality. Keep repeating your affirmations throughout the day.
Focus on meditation and mindfulness techniques
As anxiety disorder treatment, certain meditation and mind power techniques can be included, in which, you can do stress management and find out how to cope with anxiety disorder. These are one of the therapy techniques you can start on your own.
Spend time with those who care about you
If you are not willing to visit a doctor or therapist for anxiety disorder treatment and don’t wish to talk about what you are going through, spending time with those who understand and care about you, is a good option. Spending time with them will make you think less about your fears and get you in touch with what they are doing. You will start realizing the fact that life goes on and you have to move on, no matter what.
Indulge in recreational activities
It is always a good idea to engage yourself in recreational activities to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. You can go for early morning walk, running, cycling, or even just sitting by a beautiful serene place and watching the nature.
Pamper and love yourself
Taking care of yourself should be your priority. Follow a proper healthy diet, sleep and exercise pattern. You should always take time to relax yourself. Avoid caffeine and nicotine since they are known to worsen the anxiety.
Try talk therapy (Psychotherapy)
For non-serious and mild symptoms, psychotherapy is a good anxiety disorder treatment option because, during Psychotherapy, a therapist will not only discuss your disorder but also consider your views and feelings as you describe them.
Use prescribed medications
Depending on the intensity of your symptoms, the doctor may recommend certain treatment medications – anti-anxiety, anti-depressants, and Beta blockers to help you cope with the extremity of the problem.
Over the years and especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has seen an increase in anxiety disorders. If you exhibit anxiety disorder signs and symptoms, get yourself treated. If left untreated, anxiety disorder can further lead to more serious mental and behavioral problems.
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