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Anxiety

An Overview

Anxiety is a very common human emotion which comes from an experience that one is in a dangerous situation. In this sense anxiety has evolutionary value as it is an important emotion that alerts to danger and threat in the environment. When individuals suffer from anxiety their experience of fear becomes overgeneralised as they begin to experience that in reality are not threatening to them as posing a significant threat.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder you might find yourself unable to stop worrying and being in a state of heightened stress most of the time. This can become an all consuming experience taking over your life.

Signs and Symptoms

At times, the symptoms of anxiety disorder are not all that obvious as they develop slowly over times and, given that most of us experience some amount of anxiety at different points in time, so it is difficult to know how much is too much. People suffering from anxiety have any or few of the following symptoms: Feelings of panic and uneasiness Feelings of fear and worry constantly Sleeping problems Shortness of breath Heart palpitations Unable to stay calm Cold or sweaty hands and feet Numbing of hands and feet Nausea and dizziness Restlessness and trouble concentrating Feeling tense, jumpy or irritable Hyperventilation.

Causes

There are various reasons for a person to feel anxious such as financial or relationship or work issues. These anxious feelings which a person experiences under different circumstances are quite normal for a person. Anxious feelings slowly and gradually begin to take the form of disorders and this could start at any point in one's life. When the anxiety moves from mild to severe form, a person may start to have difficulty in performing his daily activities. The causes of anxiety disorders are still not known. But scientists have unraveled that the wiring of some area of the brain are affected in those suffering with anxiety disorders. Research is on to see how this understanding of the brain can help in providing better treatment to the patients of anxiety. It is also observed that people who are more prone to suffer from anxiety disorders have a history of a family member suffering from any one form of anxiety disorder. Exposures to stressful situations when they were growing up and how they learnt to cope with them are risk factors for anxiety disorders.

Types

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)-If you suffer from GAD you are likely to feel anxious about most things and in most situations rather than have a specific focus for your worries. This could have an effect on your concentration, sleep and appetite and is likely to be an obstacle to being able to live your life as you would like. Panic disorder -If you suffer from panic disorder you might find yourself experiencing intense panic and this could be in relation to specific situations or more generalised. Over time people who suffer from panic attacks become anxious about experiencing another panic attack so the focus of anxiety becomes the anticipation of anxiety. Panic disorder often involves physical symptoms of anxiety such as palpitations, dizziness, sweating and others. Other forms of anxiety are health anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Assessment & Diagnosis

There are certain tests developed to specifically diagnose anxiety disorders. But the health professionals can also find out if a person is suffering from it by looking at the symptoms. Also the doctor may ask about the intensity of the symptoms exhibited and for how long. To diagnose Generalised Anxiety Disorder, the symptoms should be continuing for over six months. A detailed history is taken to fully understand what is going on in a person's life. The Doctor may consider examining the medical records to rule out any physical illness that might be causing the anxiety symptoms. Panic attacks can subsequently develop into panic disorders if they are not attended to in the beginning. Panic disorder often involves physical symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, sweating and others.

Treatment

In the short term anxiety can be regulated through medication.If you require pharmacological treatment for your anxiety, the next step will be an assessment for a psychiatric review. In the long term the most effective treatments for anxiety are psychological and the approaches with the best evidence are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The emphasis on these treatments is on the individual's thinking and how this influences their experiences of anxiety, behaviours that might maintain anxiety and the acquisition of new skills including mindfulness.

How Therapy Works

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very useful in treatment of anxiety disorders. It helps in assessing your negative thoughts which contribute in aggravating the anxiety symptoms. CBT also helps in managing emotions and bringing positivity in life.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”