Did you ever suffer sleepless nights where you could almost hear your heart beating from an anxiety disorder?
Did you ever relive the events of a tragic accident every day?
How long will these obsessive thoughts keep haunting you?
In this article, we’ll talk about the symptoms of anxiety disorders, their causes, and how to treat them.
We all feel anxious from time to time, like when going to a job interview, before school exams, or when making an important decision.
Adrenaline rushes when we sense danger, which leads to anxiety reactions in what is known as the fight-or-flight response.
Anxiety is a natural emotion that occurs in response to stress or in anticipation of future danger to maintain safety.
Occasional anxiety is acceptable, but excessive levels can be distressing.
The problem emerges when an individual experiences extreme anxiety to the point that he fears coping with family issues or social circumstances.
What are anxiety disorders?
These disorders occur when anxiety persists for more than six months and to the degree that affects daily activities.
Because it is a mental health problem, anxiety disorders involve recurring episodes of anxiety and fear.
Women are more likely than men to develop an anxiety disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders
Symptoms vary from person to person and according to the type of disorder.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive fear and uneasiness.
- Breathing difficulty.
- Difficulty concentrating
- A Feeling of panic or danger.
- Loss of calmness and stability.
- A Feeling of coldness, sweating, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet.
- Heart palpitations.
- Dry mouth.
- Muscle tension.
- Recurring obsessive thoughts.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders in children
One in eight children suffers from anxiety, but the bright side is that they usually learn to manage their feelings from their parents, friends, and caregivers.
But when anxiety becomes chronic and persistent, the following symptoms appear:
- Isolation and shyness.
Types of anxiety disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders, such as;
Generalized Anxiety Disorders
A person feels intense anxiety or stress, with or without reason.
It is the feeling of sudden and intense fear that leads to a panic attack.
A person with anxiety and panic disorder has recurring and unexpected attacks, possibly involving negative feelings of impending doom.
Social Anxiety Disorder
It typically occurs during everyday social situations, when a person is very concerned about what others think of him or fears ridicule and embarrassment.
It occurs due to intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying.
Fear goes beyond what is appropriate for the event.
Hence, this causes a person to avoid ordinary situations.
It is the fear of being in a place from which it may be difficult to escape or get help in an emergency.
A person may panic when riding public transportation or when in open spaces.
Not only do young children have this feeling when a loved one leaves them, but anyone can develop separation anxiety.
For example, the person may feel constantly anxious, fearing something terrible will happen to the one he loves.
Selective muteness is a form of social anxiety, in which young children do not talk normally with their families in public places such as school, although they do not have any speech problems.
It is the repetition of irrational thoughts that leads a person to repeat specific behaviors.
Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
Using some illegal drugs or drug withdrawal symptoms may also cause some manifestations of an anxiety disorder.
Causes of mental anxiety disorders
The exact cause of anxiety is not known, but several factors may play a role, including the following;
- Genetic factors.
- A disturbance in brain chemistry.
- Environmental stress, such as the death of a loved one, attack, or violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse.
- Certain medical conditions, such as heart, lung, and thyroid disease cause symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder or may make them worse.
Risk factors for anxiety disorder
Some risk factors can be controlled, while others cannot, including:
- Mental health issues, such as depression, in the past.
- Physical or emotional abuse in childhood.
- Tragic life events, such as losing a parent.
- Having a severe or chronic illness.
- Drug abuse.
- Low self-esteem.
Anxiety disorder diagnosis
First, the doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history and perform several tests to rule out other health conditions.
Your doctor considers how long and severe your symptoms have been, but an anxiety disorder can’t be diagnosed using lab tests.
So the person should tell the doctor about everything he is experiencing.
The diagnosis depends on the description of those symptoms.
Also, an important criterion that contributes to correct diagnosis is the appearance of six of the above-mentioned symptoms and their persistence for more than six months.
Anxiety disorder treatment
There are many treatments used to reduce anxiety symptoms, but you should consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any nonprescription or herbal remedies.
Medications do not treat anxiety, but they do improve symptoms, such as:
The caregiver prescribes these medications, and as the condition improves, gradually reduces them, including:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), for example, escitalopram.
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as Duloxetine
- Bupropion is used to treat chronic anxiety.
These include tricyclic substances and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), but they are less common due to their potentially troublesome side effects, including:
- Low Blood pressure.
- Dry mouth.
- Urinary retention.
They are used as adjuncts to anxiety disorder treatment and should not be taken for a long time, such as Alprazolam.
They are used to improve some symptoms, such as an increased heartbeat, or they may help you calm during an acute anxiety attack.
They are used to prevent seizures in epileptic patients and as a general anxiety treatment.
A low dose may be added since it helps improve the efficiency of other medicines.
Its effect appears after several weeks of consumption.
Psychotherapy enables patients to see how their emotions affect their behavior and is sometimes called “talk therapy.”
The caregiver helps the person better understand the disorder and then manage it better.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
It is the most common type of psychotherapy.
It is based on learning the thought patterns and behaviors that cause disturbing emotions and how to change them.
Treatment focuses on dealing with the underlying fears of the anxiety disorder and encourages participation in various activities.
Managing symptoms of anxiety disorders
These tips help reduce symptoms, including:
- Reduce foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs, and quit smoking as well.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Play sports.
- Write down thoughts each day that may help you relax.
- Practice positive thinking.
- Ask for support, and talk to friends or loved ones when needed.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Anxiety Disorders
The relationship between IBS and anxiety is due to the nervous system’s partial control of the colon.
About 50% to 90% of IBS patients suffer from anxiety and depression disorders.
Anxiety and depression disorders
Anxiety may be a symptom of major depression and vice versa.
Treatment for both conditions is associated with many treatments, such as psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.
Do certain foods treat anxiety disorders?
Some research suggests that certain foods may have a beneficial effect on mental health, such as:
- Dark chocolate.
- Green tea.
Finally, it may be hard to live with constant anxiety and fear, but talking to a specialist is the first step towards effective treatment.