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Anxiety is a natural reaction of our body to any external stimulus that might indicate harm or danger. It is also normal when you are in a stressful situation such as public speaking, or finding out your test results. However, if these conditions intensify, it may be an indication of anxiety disorder. It is characterised by intense fear and worries even when there is no such situation.
According to studies, approximately 44.9 million people of the Indian population were found suffering from anxiety disorders in 2017, which makes up for 3.3% of the total population . Moreover, the prevalence of this disorder is increasing rapidly each year, with adolescents, young adults and females being at a higher risk.
However, with early diagnosis and proper counselling and medication, mental disorders such as anxiety can be effectively tackled.
|Symptoms||Sweating, chest pain, nausea, trembling or shaking, breathlessness, continuing fear, etc.|
|Complications||Depression, Insomnia, Gastrointestinal problems, etc.|
|Causes||Genetics, stress, chemical imbalance, environmental factors, etc.|
|Onset||It can start at any age but symptoms generally appear at early stages during childhood or adolescents.|
|Diagnosis||Psychological evaluation, blood tests, etc.|
|Prevention||Reduce stress, limit caffeine intake, etc.|
|Medication||Psychotherapy, anti-anxiety medications, etc.|
Here’s a detailed overview of anxiety – its symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and complications. Keep reading to learn more!
The symptoms of anxiety may vary depending on their type. However, here are some of the most common anxiety symptoms one might experience during an episode :
Apart from these general symptoms, based on the specific type of anxiety disorder some might also experience fear of crowded places or among people (agoraphobia), fear of social interactions (social anxiety) , etc.
Note that the symptoms of anxiety can get severe if not addressed properly. Therefore, seek professional help in case you experience any of them.
Anxiety disorders can be of various types, triggered by various causes. However, doctors and researchers have not yet been able to correctly identify the exact underlying cause behind it. They believe three main factors play their roles as anxiety causes:
In this type of disorder people generally experience a constant feeling of dread and anxiety that may interrupt their lifestyle and daily activities. Under this category, anxiety is not triggered by specific incidents, but people may constantly worry about regular or unrealistic issues such as money, work, health, relationships, family members, etc. However, these worries are not the same as occasional worries or fears that people often experience. In fact, these are frequent and may continue for a prolonged period, such as months or even years.
GAD is commonly characterised by restlessness, lack of concentration, sleeping problems, uncontrollable fear and worry, tiredness, irritability and so on.
Panic disorder is mainly characterised by intense and sudden panic attacks. These are periods of strong and intense fear, anxiety, and loss of control. The onset of panic attacks may not be due to any external trigger or danger. People with panic disorder suffer from more intense episodes than the other types and often worry about when it might trigger next.
If you are having a panic attack you may experience intense chest pain, feelings similar to a heart attack, sweating, feeling of being choked, rapid heart rate or pounding, palpitations, chest pain, etc.
Phobia is a condition where you can feel intense fear of specific things or situations that in reality may pose little or no harm.
While it is normal to feel anxious in some situations, phobias may cause people to experience fear that is way out of proportion to the danger the situation possesses. Therefore, the feared object or situation may cause you to worry excessively or irrationally.
Phobias can be of different types, when you are afraid of a specific object or situation and try to avoid facing it unreasonably.
Some of the specific phobias may include fearing:
Social anxiety disorder, also commonly known as social phobia is an intense fear or discomfort of being around people or socialising. If you fear rejection, embarrassment or humiliation in social settings more strongly than usual, it might be due to social anxiety disorder.
People with social anxiety mostly tend to avoid social situations such as meeting new people, social events, public speaking, or even eating and drinking in public. They may undergo anxiety even while anticipating such situations. If exposed to situations like these, their anxiety may be triggered. Moreover, it disrupts their daily lifestyle and activities, especially in workplaces, or other social realms and may continue for months on end.
Separation anxiety disorder is a condition where one fears or worries about separation from a person or persons. This fear or worry about detachment may be real or even anticipated. Generally, separation anxiety develops in children or adolescents who fear getting separated from their parents. They may worry about their parents being hurt and not returning back.
However, this disorder is also prevalent among older children and adults who experience stressful events in life. In those cases, they fear that their close or loved ones may leave or be hurt. As a result, they tend to avoid being alone or being separated from their attachment figures.
Moreover, individuals with this condition get nightmares about losing their loved ones and even feel physical symptoms when they are separated or anticipate separation
Physical and mental health conditions differ widely from each other by nature, diagnosis as well as treatment .
Therefore, if you have been able to identify the condition, that itself is the first big step. So, after being diagnosed with anxiety, it would be best to visit your doctor immediately. As there are different types of anxiety disorders, their treatment and management are also targeted. Therefore, you must clarify your condition with the doctor, so that you receive proper therapy and/or anxiety medication .
Moreover, while in some cases, your condition may not severely affect your day-to-day life or mental health, not receiving treatment may slowly deteriorate the situation and lead to severe episodes of anxiety attacks.
Therefore, it is advisable that if diagnosed, visit the doctor at the earliest to address the condition of anxiety disorder.
In this test, doctors will ask you about your symptoms, if you have other similar mental health conditions and medications that you take. For instance, there are certain medicines for treating Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis that can cause signs and symptoms of anxiety.
After asking about your symptoms and conditions, doctors may suggest a blood test to eliminate the chances of other conditions, such as hypothyroidism, which may cause similar symptoms.
The most important step in anxiety diagnosis is a psychological evaluation. Here, a certified professional will note down if you have any family history of anxiety or depression. Following this, they will take note of your symptoms, when they started and how often you face them. They will also ask how long your symptoms last and their severity, if treated early, etc. In addition to this, you may have to fill out a questionnaire that contains questions about your symptoms and how they affect your everyday life and activities.
After the specialist has assessed the questionnaire, symptoms, and family history, they will discuss your diagnostic report through a feedback session. Following this, they will either suggest treatment immediately or refer you to a more appropriate specialist to cater to your specific case.
In several cases, anxiety goes undiagnosed and untreated due to a lack of awareness and addressing mental health issues. However, with timely diagnosis and treatment, you can improve the quality of your life and well-being.
The prognosis of anxiety depends on several factors, but there can be a significant reduction in symptoms with treatment.
Generally, if anxiety is diagnosed and treated early, it can help prevent the development of chronic anxiety or other types of anxiety or mental disorders. Without treatment, it can even lead to the development of other physical disorders as well.
Meanwhile, that does not mean that you cannot start treatment after suffering from this condition for several years. Starting treatment during any phase can offer you great benefits. Therefore, it is vital for anyone diagnosed with anxiety to begin treatment, especially for children and adolescents when the symptoms generally start .
In order to prevent someone from relapsing after their conditions have improved professionals must continue to work with them.
That means, even after you finish with your treatment, your specialist must work to identify if there are persisting troubles, challenges or mild symptoms. This way, you can deal with these troubles effectively while avoiding the recurrence of the disease.
Fundamentally, the conditions of anxiety disorders may not fully recover but can improve with appropriate treatment in most cases .
Mental health disorders like anxiety disorder must be treated just like any physical disorder. Therefore, based on the type of anxiety disorder, your doctor may plan out an anxiety treatment including psychotherapy and/or medication .
Psychotherapy can help you manage the emotional response to anxiety. Here, a certified mental health professional explains various techniques that can help you comprehend and manage the disease symptoms better. There are two widely used psychotherapy methods including:
CBT is the most widely used psychotherapy to treat anxiety. In this approach, a certified specialist will teach you how to identify your thought patterns and thinking that may disrupt your emotions and feelings. It also helps you analyse how these thoughts affect your behaviour. That way you can work to change how these affect you and improve your thoughts.
Exposure therapy comes after behavioural therapy where you are asked to face your fear and deal with the trigger things or situations you have been avoiding . It enables you to interact with things or circumstances in a better way. Along with exposure therapy, your doctor may also recommend relaxation techniques and focused imagery.
Although medication cannot completely remedy the condition of anxiety by itself, it may still reduce your symptoms and improve your life. The three main types of medications may include:
These include benzodiazepines, which help to reduce your anxiety, panic and excessive worry. They can work swiftly to improve the condition, but prolonged usage may build up tolerance. Therefore, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to balance it out.
Antidepressants can help to alter how specific chemicals are used by your brain to boost mood and lessen stress.
These medications are used to reduce high blood pressure, thereby reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety. They generally relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking or trembling during anxiety attacks.
However, note that you only take these medications and doses as recommended by a certified specialist and do not alter the doses without their prescription.
There are no definite steps for anxiety prevention. However, you can keep the symptoms in check by following certain practices . These include taking your medications regularly, limiting your caffeine intake (coffee, tea, etc), maintaining a healthy physical lifestyle and diet, meditation, etc. In addition, be aware of the symptoms mentioned above. If you start experiencing them, ensure to seek help at the earliest to get the maximum benefits.
Anxiety complications may vary depending on their type but they will worsen or lead to other disorders if not treated well. For generalised anxiety disorders, complications may lead to the following :
The cost of anxiety treatment in India depends on its type and severity but generally ranges between Rs.200 to Rs.2000. This can include the cost of therapy as well as medications.
Anxiety disorders are one of the leading mental health disorders globally. Therefore, you must be aware of any signs and symptoms mentioned earlier, that may have been affecting your mind, behaviour and quality of life. Moreover, if you live a stressful and busy life, you may be exposed to greater risk. If you find yourself or your loved ones in such a situation, you must seek a certified medical professional’s help immediately. Never undergo medicinal treatment without consulting an authorised doctor.
The overall treatment of anxiety can be costly if there is a need for both psychotherapy and medications. Moreover, long-term treatment may punch a hole in your pocket. Therefore, to have better financial security, opt for the Navi Health Insurance plan today.
Navi offers you a wide range of doctors consultations along with annual check-ups from a network of more than 10,000 healthcare centres. Moreover, you can avail of a swift claim-settlement process for premiums as low as Rs.234 a month. Get a quote now!
Physical health conditions, such as arrhythmia, thyroid problems, brain tumours, etc. may often be the underlying cause of anxiety disorders.
Selective mutism is a rare condition of anxiety disorder. In this case, one might experience trouble speaking in certain circumstances even though they have normal speaking skills. This condition is mainly prevalent among children below 5 years and involves social anxiety, excessive shyness, clinging, tantrums, etc. This condition is often co-diagnosed with other symptoms.
Yes, you can engage in a variety of behaviours to ease anxiety disorder symptoms and improve the efficacy of treatment. These may include stress management methods and medications, to keep your mind calm. For better assistance, you can also join a support group to share your experiences and coping mechanisms.
IBS and anxiety are linked by the central nervous system, which partly regulates the colon. Therefore, if you are under stress, it will affect your nervous system's response, which in turn will affect your stomach. Moreover, a significant number of people with IBS may also have underlying anxiety and their treatment includes psychotherapy and stress management to relieve symptoms.
No, the use of alcohol may not directly trigger the anxiety but can cause other issues. Although some use alcohol or other substances to reduce the burden of anxiety, in the long run, they might suffer from substance abuse
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