Exploring Anxiety

Anxiety is a physiological and psychological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create the painful feelings that we typically recognize as uneasiness, apprehension, or worry. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. Anxiety disorder is a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal, pathological anxieties, fears, and phobias. Clinically "fear", "anxiety" and "phobia" have distinct meanings, though the words are often used interchangeably in casual discourse to describe ubiquitous emotions. A phobia is defined as a "persistent or irrational fear." Clinically, fear is defined as an emotional and physiological response to a recognized external threat. Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state, the sources of which are less readily identified. Distinguishing among different anxiety disorders is important, since accurate diagnosis is more likely to result in effective treatment and a better prognosis.

Anxiety disorders are frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms that may lead to fatigue or even exhaustion. Clinical depression is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders.Anxiety disorders are often debilitating chronic conditions, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event. They are prone to flare up at times of high stress. A professional assessment is essential for the initial diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, preferably using a standardized interview or questionnaire procedure alongside expert evaluation by a clinical psychologist and the views of the affected person. There should be a medical examination in order to identify possible medical conditions that can cause the symptoms of anxiety. A family history of anxiety disorders is often suggestive of the possibility of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be accompanied by headache, sweating, palpitations, and hypertension. It is important to note that a patient with an anxiety disorder will often exhibit symptoms of Clinical Depression and vice-versa. Rarely does a patient exhibit symptoms of only one or the other.

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are characterized by acute development of several of the following anxiety attack symptoms reaching peak severity within 10 minutes:
  • Escalating subjective tension
  • Chest pain or discomfort, palpitations, "pounding heart", tachycardia
  • Sweating, chills, or hot flushes
  • Tremor or "shakes"
  • Feeling of choking, smothering or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, "butterflies", or abdominal distress
  • Dizziness, feeling light headed or faint
  • Derealisation, depersonalisation
  • Paraesthesias (feelings like an ant crawling on your body)
  • Feeling of dying, loss of control or "going crazy"
Please Note: Many of the similar symptoms can be caused by a heart attack. Panic attack and heart attacks can be difficult to distinguish. 

Treatment: Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. The choices of treatment include psychotherapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy); lifestyle changes; or sometimes pharmaceutical therapy. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the first person you should see is your physician, who can determine whether the symptoms that alarm you are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is usually seeing a clinical psychologist, who have training in cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or behavioral therapy, and who are open to using medication if it is needed. 

If you do not have a therapist you can try to identify your feelings as follows:
  • Take the opportunity when you feel physically bad.
  • Lie down in a quiet room and close your eyes.
  • You will probably get a most unpleasant feeling.
  • This feeling of unpleasantness may become almost unbearable but concentrate on your real feeling in spite of this. You will gradually become more and more aware of of your real feelings.
  • Worry, loathing, shame, anger, fear and grief are examples of suppressed feelings.
  • The unpleasantness feels dangerous but it is in reality the suppressed feelings which are dangerous, not those you aware of.
  • Let the feeling of unpleasantness spread and make intensive contact with it. Allow yourself to express these feelings by making sounds and movements.
  • Within a quarter of an hour the feeling of unpleasantness will have probably disappeared and you have learnt what to do to begin solving your problems.
Many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Internet chat rooms can also be useful in this regard, but any advice received over the Internet should be used with caution, as Internet acquaintances have usually never seen each other and false identities are common. Talking with a trusted friend can also provide support, but it is not a substitute for care from a professional. Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy. There is preliminary evidence that aerobic exercise may have a calming effect. Since caffeine, certain illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders, they should be avoided. The family is also very important in the recovery of a person with an anxiety disorder. Ideally, the family should be supportive but not help perpetuate their loved one’s symptoms. 

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thank you for this article