People commonly experience feelings of anxiety before any important events in their lives. Events such as sitting an examination, getting married, business presentations, etc. However, anxiety disorders are illnesses that bring feelings of overwhelming anxiety and fear that are chronic and unremitting. Anxiety can progressively worsen if left untreated.
When faced with danger (or perceived danger) there is a reflex action that our bodies experience, that a causes physiological and mental arousal, allowing us to cope with the threat. This reflex action is beneficial in cases of real danger as it, in turn, increases the output of adrenalin that can increase our strength and speed, allowing us to react. However, chronic anxiety reduces the quality of the sufferer’s life and can induce an overall feeling of ill-being. Any person suffering from an anxiety disorder feels a sense of anxiety that is completely out of proportion with the physical, mental, or emotional stimuli that they are currently experiencing.
There are a number of types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The underlying causes of anxiety disorders are not completely understood, although the interaction of different neurotransmitters, in the brain, clearly plays a role. Anxiety disorders can be caused by the taking of illegal or prescription drugs, or by other medical conditions and it is important to see a doctor to rule out these. It is possible that the sufferer may have a predisposition to anxiety disorders but whether this is a result of genetic factors or a family-influenced way of responding to the world it is unclear.
There are different types of anxiety disorder: –
- Panic Disorder — Repeated occurences of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, abdominal distress, and fear of dying.
- Phobias — The two major types of phobia are specific phobia and social phobia. Specific phobia causes the sufferer to experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily. Social phobia causes the sufferer to have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Nightmares and flashbacks, depression numbing of emotions, and feeling irritable, angry, or distracted and being easily startled are the most common.
Who Is Affected by Anxiety?
Anxiety affects both sexes and all ages.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
- Inner tension.
- Fear of losing control.
- Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen, such as a heart attack or death.
- Feelings of detachment, and feeling separate from the world.
- Breathing fast and/or feeling short of breath.
- Tightness of the chest.
- Palpitations (racing heart beat).
- Dry mouth.
- Butterflies in the stomach.
- Feeling nauseous.
- An urge to urinate.