Anxiety and Treatment
Experiencing anxiety on an occasional basis is a common experience in life. It's completely natural for people to have concerns about various aspects of life such as their health, finances, or family problems. However, when anxiety disorders come into play, the impact goes beyond the momentary worry or fears.
For those living with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety lingers and tends to worsen over time. This persistent anxiety can significantly influence daily activities, including work performance, academic pursuits, and relationships. The experience of anxiety and its impacts on individuals' everyday life can make it challenging to find balance and fulfillment. Thus, it's important to recognize the signs of an anxiety disorder and seek professional help to address and manage its effects.
Different types of anxiety disorder and their symptoms
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Individuals with GAD experience anxiety associated with events of everyday life. They often experience intense worry that is disproportionate to the actual source of concern, finding it difficult to relax. They may experience the following symptoms for months to years
- feeling restless and on-edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches, muscle aches, and unexplained pain
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Panic Disorders (PD)
Panic disorders are associated with periods of intense fear and discomfort with no clear danger.
- Recurrent unexpected panic attacks accompanied by symptoms such as sweating, nausea, pounding heart, feelings of choking, chest pain or discomfort, feeling dizzy, etc.
- Persistent worry about the possibility of having panic attacks
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Individuals with SAD experience persistent worries of being watched and judged by others. This fear can become quite overwhelming and may interfere with their ability to go to work, attend school, or complete regular daily activities. Some of the symptoms include:
- Racing heart rate
- Difficulty being around people or making eye contact
- Feeling self-conscious
Phobia is an intense fear of situations or objects that can interfere with an individual's ability to function. An individual with phobia may experience:
- Irrational worry about encountering a situation or object
- Constant avoidance of the situation or object they fear
- Intense anxiety when they encounter the fear
There are several types of phobias, such as:
- Specific phobias: Individuals with specific phobia experience intense worry and fear about specific objects or situations such as insects, heights, enclosed places, needles, and more.
- Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia: Individuals who have social phobia have an intense fear of social situations where they may be exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions, being watched, or performing in front of a group.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Individuals with separation anxiety disorder have an intense fear of being away from their loved ones or people they are close to. They fear that they or their loved ones may be harmed during the time they are away from each other.
- Agoraphobia: This phobia involves individuals fearing certain situations or places due to feeling unsafe and believing that they are unable to escape. As a result, they avoid these situations.
Treatments for Anxiety Disorders
The most effective treatments for Anxiety tend to be psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Psychotherapy is an effective tool that can be very beneficial to people with anxiety disorder. It involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms and learn how to regain control.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has shown to be the most effective form of psychotherapy for individuals with Anxiety disorders. Its aim is to equip individuals with alternative ways of thinking, behaving, and responding to various situations. By teaching different coping mechanisms, CBT assists individuals in improving their symptoms and gradually partaking in activities that were previously avoided because of anxiety. This approach incorporates exposure therapy, where individuals gradually confront the triggers of their anxiety. This helps them foster a sense of confidence in their ability to handle both the situation and the associated symptoms of anxiety.
Although medication alone cannot cure anxiety, it can alleviate symptoms. Anxiety medication can be prescribed by healthcare professionals such as psychiatrists and primary care provides. The primary classes of medications used to address anxiety disorders are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines and beta-blockers. However, the specific medications prescribed to alleviate symptoms vary based on the type of anxiety disorder and any coexisting mental or physical health conditions.