Know Your Disorder

Anxiety Disorders

By Vrunda Patel (Intern, Department of Mental Health Education, NIMHANS)

A normal reaction to stress is anxiety. Experiencing anxiety occasionally is normal part of life while dealing with day to day work like problem at work, dealing with a life changing decision, confronting someone, etc but the persistent, intense and excessive fear and anxiety leads to the anxiety disorders which has to be treated as it gets worse over time. These directly affects the normal routine. Anxiety Disorders include different conditions leading to different types of anxiety disorders.

  • Panic Disorder: It causes panic attacks which sudden change feelings of danger without any real danger.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: It causes anxiety due to the fear of society putting labels on them, getting rejected by people or being judged.

  • Specific Phobia Disorder: Due to the exposure of specific object or situation, it triggers anxiety within a person.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive and persistent worry about number of things at a time.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Feeling restless and nervous

  • Sweating

  • Chest pain

  • Breathing heavily

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Dry Mouth

  • Dizziness

  • Not being able to stay calm and still

  • Trembling

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Feeling weak and tired all the time

Causes:

Inherited traits are one of the factors leading to anxiety. Some traumatic event triggers anxiety disorder in a person. Medical causes like heart disease, thyroid problems, drug misuse or withdrawal, diabetes etc are also linked to anxiety disorders.

Risk Factors:

Some factors that have high risk of leading to anxiety disorders are:

  • Stress build-up

  • Trauma

  • Personality

  • Substance abuse

  • Stress due to illness

  • Other mental disorders (depression)

To help a person with anxiety disorders:

  • Help the person break-free avoidance behaviour

  • Destigmatized the person’s experience of anxiety

  • Give them their space and let them calmly open up to you

  • Take them to mediation, yoga, or even for a walk

  • Match your support to their preferences

  • Offer support, but do not take over

In severe cases, encourage them to seek help from professionals. Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained clinician, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor, to understand what caused an anxiety disorder and how to deal with it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be useful in treating anxiety disorders. It can help people change the thinking patterns that support their fears and change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations.

References:
[1] Laura Martin (2016, November 23). “What are Anxiety Disorders?” WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-disorders#1
[2] Alice Boyes(2018, July 25). “Seven Ways to Help Someone with Anxiety.” Greater God Science Centre at Berkeley. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_help_someone_with_anxiety