People experience occasional anxiety as a normal part of life. Those with anxiety disorders, however, have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everything. Anxiety disorders often involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and panic attacks. The feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.
Anxiety disorders include social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. A person can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment. Whatever form of anxiety, treatment is helpful.
Common anxiety symptoms are:
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom,
- Feeling nervous,
- Feeling powerless,
- Having an increased heart rate,
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation),
- Feeling weak or tired,
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.
The exact cause of anxiety disorders isn't fully understood, which refers to many mental health conditions. Life experiences such as traumatic events seem to stir anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to becoming anxious.
Anxiety is linked to an underlying health condition with some people. In some cases, anxiety symptoms are the first indicators of a medical illness.
Medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, asthma, drug abuse or withdrawal, withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) or other medications, irritable bowel syndrome, rare tumors and premenstrual syndrome. Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of certain medications.
It is more likely that the anxiety may be due to an underlying psychological condition.
The factors that may increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder are:
- Being female,
- Stress due to an illness,
- Stress buildup,
- Other mental health disorders,
- Having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder,
- Drugs or alcohol.
The anxiety disorder does more than make you worry. It can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical health conditions, such as:
- Trouble sleeping,
- Substance abuse,
- Digestive or bowel problems,
- Poor quality of life.
The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. A combination of the two may be most beneficial. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for a person.
The possible prevention measures to deal with anxiety are the following:
- Get help early,
- Keep a journal,
- Stay active,
- Learn time management techniques,
- Avoid unhealthy alcohol or drug use.