Anxiety is the body's normal reaction to stress. It is apprehension or fear about what is to come. Most people are afraid and nervous on the first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech.
However, if your anxiety symptoms are severe, last for more than six months, and interfere with your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
What exactly are anxiety disorders?
It's normal to be nervous about relocating, starting a new job, or taking a test. Although this type of anxiety is unpleasant, it may motivate you to work harder and do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a passing feeling that does not interfere with your daily life.
In the case of an anxiety disorder, you may experience fear all of the time. It is intense and, at times, incapacitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to abandon activities that you enjoy. It may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your house in extreme cases. If the anxiety is not treated, it will worsen.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of emotional disorder, affecting people of all ages. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
What are the different kinds of anxiety disorders?
Anxiety is a component of many different disorders. These are some examples:
- Panic disorder: having recurring panic attacks at inconvenient times. A person suffering from panic disorder may live in constant fear of the next panic attack.
- phobia: an abnormally strong fear of a specific object, situation, or activity
- social anxiety disorder: an abnormally strong fear of being judged by others in social situations.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: recurring irrational thoughts that cause you to engage in specific, repetitive behaviours
- separation anxiety disorder: the fear of being separated from one's home or loved ones
- illness anxiety disorder: worry about one's health (formerly called hypochondria)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): anxiety that occurs after a traumatic event
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety manifests differently depending on the individual. From butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart, emotions can run the gamut. You may feel out of control, as if there is a schism between your mind and body.
Other symptoms of anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you are unable to control. You may be afraid of something in general, or you may be afraid of a specific location or event.
General anxiety symptoms include:
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty falling asleep
Your anxiety symptoms may be completely different from those of others. That is why it is critical to be aware of all the different ways anxiety can manifest itself. Learn about the various types of anxiety symptoms that you may experience.
What exactly is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is characterised by intense apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. For many people, an anxiety attack develops gradually. As a stressful event approaches, it may worsen.
Anxiety attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms can differ from person to person. This is because the various symptoms of anxiety do not affect everyone and can change over time.
Anxiety attacks are characterised by the following symptoms:
- feeling faint or dizzy
- shortness of breath
- dry mouth
- chills or hot flashes
- apprehension and worry
A panic attack and an anxiety attack have some symptoms in common, but they are not the same thing. Learn more about each so you can determine whether your symptoms are the result of one or the other.
What factors contribute to anxiety?
The exact cause of anxiety is unknown to researchers. However, a combination of factors is most likely at work. These include genetic, environmental, and brain chemistry factors.
Furthermore, researchers believe that the areas of the brain responsible for fear control may be affected.
Current anxiety research is delving deeper into the parts of the brain that are involved with anxiety. Learn more about the findings of the researchers.
Are there any tests for anxiety?
Anxiety cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Anxiety diagnosis, on the other hand, necessitates a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors may perform a physical exam, including blood or urine tests, to rule out underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms.
Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to assist your doctor in determining your level of anxiety. Reach out regarding each of these tests.
What are anxiety treatments?
After being diagnosed with anxiety, you can discuss treatment options with your doctor. Some people do not require medical treatment. Changes in lifestyle may be sufficient to alleviate symptoms.
However, in moderate to severe cases, treatment can help you overcome your symptoms and live a more manageable day-to-day life.
Anxiety treatment is divided into two categories: psychotherapy and medication. Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and coping strategies for when anxiety strikes.
If you need assistance finding a mental health specialist in your area, the Healthline FindCare tool can help.
Antidepressants and sedatives are common medications used to treat anxiety. They work to balance brain chemistry, prevent anxiety attacks, and prevent the disorder's most severe symptoms. Learn more about anxiety medications, including the benefits and drawbacks of each type.
What natural treatments are available for anxiety?
Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may experience on a daily basis. The majority of natural "remedies" involve taking care of your body, engaging in healthy activities, and avoiding unhealthy ones.
- getting enough sleep
- staying active and exercising
- eating a healthy diet
- staying active and working out
- avoiding alcohol
- avoiding caffeine
If these lifestyle changes appear to be a positive way to help you eliminate some anxiety, learn more about how they work and get more great anxiety treatment ideas.
Depression and anxiety
You may be depressed if you have an anxiety disorder. While anxiety and depression can occur independently, it is not uncommon for these two mental health disorders to coexist.
Anxiety is a sign of clinical or major depression. Similarly, anxiety disorders can cause depression symptoms to worsen.
Many of the same treatments can be used to treat the symptoms of both conditions, including psychotherapy (counselling), medications, and lifestyle changes.
How to Help Anxious Children
Anxiety is normal and common in children. In fact, one out of every eight children will suffer from anxiety. Children typically develop the skills to calm themselves and cope with feelings of anxiety as they grow and learn from their parents, friends, and caregivers.
However, anxiety in children can become chronic and persistent, progressing to anxiety disorder. Uncontrolled anxiety can disrupt daily activities, and children may avoid interacting with peers or family members.
Anxiety disorders can cause symptoms such as:
- feelings of fear
- feelings of isolation
Cognitive behavioural therapy (talk therapy) and medications are used to treat anxiety in children. Learn more about the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and techniques for calming your child's anxiety.
How to Help Anxious Teens
Teenagers may be anxious for a variety of reasons. Tests, college visits, and first dates all occur during these crucial years. Teenagers who frequently feel anxious or exhibit anxiety symptoms may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety symptoms in teenagers include nervousness, shyness, isolationist behaviours, and avoidance. Similarly, anxiety in teenagers can result in unusual behaviours. They may act out, perform poorly in school, miss social events, and even use drugs or alcohol.
Depression may accompany anxiety in some teenagers. It is critical to diagnose both conditions so that treatment can address the underlying issues and help relieve symptoms.
Talk therapy and medication are the most commonly used treatments for anxiety in teenagers. These treatments also aid in the treatment of depression symptoms.
Stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress are two sides of the same coin. Stress is caused by demands placed on your brain or body. It could be the result of an event or activity that makes you nervous or concerned. Anxiety is the same as worry, fear, or discomfort.
Anxiety can be a response to stress, but it can also occur in people who do not have any obvious stressors.
Anxiety and stress both produce physical and mental symptoms:
- fast heartbeat
- muscle tension
- rapid breathing
- difficulty concentrating
- irrational anger or irritability
Stress and anxiety are not always bad. Both can actually give you a boost or incentive to complete the task or challenge at hand. However, if they become persistent, they may start to disrupt your daily life. In that case, it is critical to seek treatment.
Untreated depression and anxiety can lead to chronic health problems such as heart disease in the long run. Learn why anxiety and stress occur and how to deal with them.
Alcohol and anxiety
If you are frequently anxious, you may decide that a drink will help you relax. Alcohol, after all, is a sedative. It can reduce the activity of your central nervous system, making you feel more at ease.
In a social setting, that may seem like the perfect answer to let down your guard. In the end, it may not be the best solution.
In order to feel better on a regular basis, some people with anxiety disorders abuse alcohol or other drugs. This has the potential to lead to dependency and addiction.
It may be necessary to address an alcohol or drug problem before addressing anxiety. Chronic or long-term use can also exacerbate the condition. Learn more about how alcohol can exacerbate anxiety symptoms or an anxiety disorder.
Can foods help with anxiety?
Anxiety is commonly treated with medication and talk therapy. Changes in lifestyle, such as getting enough sleep and exercising regularly, can also help. Furthermore, some research suggests that the foods you eat may have a positive impact on your brain if you suffer from anxiety on a regular basis.
These foods include: salmon, chamomile, turmeric, dark chocolate, yoghurt, and green tea.
Medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two can be used to treat anxiety disorders. Some people choose to live with a mild anxiety disorder or a fear of something they can easily avoid rather than seek treatment.
It is critical to understand that anxiety disorders, even in severe cases, can be treated. Although anxiety rarely goes away on its own, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.