Feeling anxious from time to time is a regular part of life. Facing stressful events can lead to feelings of anxiety. But when does it become too much?
People with an Anxiety Disorder have intense and persistent fears about everyday situations. Feelings of discomfort, shortness of breath and fast heartbeats can indicate the onset of an Anxiety Disorder. These irrational feelings are difficult to control and interfere with relationships, work, and sleep. The anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by excessive, generalised uncontrollable worry about a number of events. This could be about health, finances, or relationships. This worry lasts throughout the day for at least six months. Other symptoms may include restlessness, irritability, and poor concentration.
Social Anxiety Disorder
People with Social Anxiety Disorder have an intense fear of social situations. It is more intense than shyness. People with Social Anxiety Disorder fear being scrutinised or embarrassed. Thus, they go through great lengths to avoid social situations.
People with Panic Disorder experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks unrelated to specific situations. Panic attacks are sudden intense feelings of fear and terror. It can peak within minutes, causing an intense urge to flee. Panic attacks involve:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of losing control
A phobia is a disproportionate fear of a particular object or situation. An example is a fear of flying. People with phobias either take great lengths to avoid, or endure the feared objects or situations with intense anxiety. It is severe enough to cause distress or interfere with jobs or relationships.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder involves fears about being parted from attached figures. People with this order often worry that harm will happen to their attached figures. Nightmares or physical symptoms occurs, when separation is anticipated, or takes place.
Selective Mutism is the failure to speak in social situations despite normal language abilities. This occurs around age 5 and is associated with extreme shyness, fear of embarrassment, clinging behaviour and temper tantrums.
- History of biological family members with Anxiety Disorder
- Overeactivity in the fear circuit of the brain
- Exposure to stressful life events
- Tendency to be distressed
- Sustained negative beliefs about future
Other health conditions:
- Heart disease
- Drug misuse or withdrawal
Anti anxiety medications can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. They are highly effective, but tolerance towards the anti anxiety medications can be developed. Antidepressants can also be used to control mood or stress. Consult with your doctor before stopping these medications, because they can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy focuses on challenging and modifying dysfunctional thoughts. It also teaches skills to manage symptoms.
Exposure Therapy involves challenging fears gradually by facing them. Facing the object or situation that triggers anxiety makes the person realise that the trigger is not as threatening as thought to be. Relaxation techniques can be learnt to reduce physical anxiety response.
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