Many people have anxiety when there is a big event such as a wedding, test or first date. This is all very normal and doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem. With anxiety disorders, it comes on for no apparent reason and in all different situations. This can make us feel fearful, upset and uncomfortable. If we ignore these symptoms, it can lead to our quality of life being reduced and ineffective productivity. The Good news is that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated.
What are the different forms of anxiety?
Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden attacks of fear, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, or dizziness. There is no set duration and the panic attack can last from minutes to hours. In many cases, the person who is suffering from these attacks feels as if they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. They can be nauseous, have chest pain, tingling in the feet or hands, feel flushed or have chills. There is usually a loss of reality, and fear of losing control.
Panic disorder is one of the most treatable of all the anxiety disorders.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is illustrated by persistent upsetting thoughts and the rituals to control the anxiety that the thoughts produce. If left untreated, this disorder will most of the time end up controlling the individual. Symptoms may come and go, lessen or worsen over time. OCD can be treated by exposure-based therapy and possibly including certain medications.
An example of OCD is if a person is obsessed with germs or dirt, they may start to wash their hands more than necessary. The act of washing hands may lead to decreased anxiety for just a short amount of time. The person will then feel the need to wash again to obtain that feeling of relieved anxiety.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) starts when there is a traumatic event that involves physical harm or the threat to physical harm. PTSD can happen to either the person the event happened to or a witness who saw this happen. Not everyone will get PTSD even if there was a terrifying experience.
Some symptoms of PTSD can include a heightened startle response, becoming numb, losing interest in activities one once enjoyed, trouble sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks and increased irritability.
Social Anxiety or Social Phobia is when people become overcome with anxiety in social situations. Behind the anxiety is the fear of being judged, watched or not being liked. The worry can last for hours, days or weeks prior to the event and can impact work, school and daily life. Social anxiety can be around one situation like talking to people to something more severe like generalized social anxiety, which is just being around people.
Some symptoms include sweating, nausea, difficulty talking, blushing, and shaking. Although others may not notice these symptoms and may not even know the other person is nervous, the person with social anxiety feels as if everyone is looking at them and can see all of these signs.
Specific Phobias are fears that some particular thing will harm them when there is little to no actual danger of harm. These fears can include spiders, heights, closed-in spaces, and water to name a few.
In certain circumstances, it may be easy to avoid the fear and when that is the case, people may not seek help. By avoiding the situation does not mean that the fear will go away or that you are curing yourself. This will always be a problem if not taken care of.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is when one goes through the day with worry and fear with little to no reason. There is constant thinking and concern about any and everything. This can include family, money, school, work, other people, and health. These concerns, no matter how much they think about it, won’t go away. The person with GAD finds it hard to concentrate on anything else, can’t relax, has trouble falling or staying asleep, and has extreme stress due to this.
Some symptoms can include muscle tension, muscle aches, trembling, sweating, nausea, and feeling out of breath.
With all anxiety, most of the time, one recognizes that there are unreasonable fears and thoughts. The problem comes when we are unsure of how to get rid of these unrealistic thoughts to eliminate the behaviors.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while the person receives psychotherapy. While a primary care physician can prescribe these medications, to get the best results, one should go to a psychiatrist who knows more about anxiety and the medications that can help. The psychiatrist should work closely with the therapist to monitor symptoms and for everything to be most effective.
Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional to discover what is causing the anxiety and how to deal with the symptoms. Therapy can be scary because essentially, the person is stating that there is a problem or issue that they can’t solve on his or her own. It’s okay to admit this and can be therapeutic even. By seeking help, you are admitting that you are strong and brave and unwilling to let this problem keep you from living the life that you want.