What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response/reaction to threat or danger to our well being as perceived by us. The response or reaction can include feelings of being worried, fearful or nervous, and in a long run cause depression. In moderation anxiety helps us to stay focused, drives us into action and helps resolve problems. But constant or overwhelming anxiety can even lead to serious disorders (Generalized anxiety disorders)
Symptoms of anxiety
The physical symptoms of anxiety could include: Trembling, stomach upsets, tensed muscles, diarrhoea, nausea, headache, palpitations of the heart, sweating and flushing.
The emotional symptoms of anxiety includes: Irritability, restlessness, trouble in concentrating, feeling nervous, apprehensive, feeling of the mind going blank, anticipating the worst outcomes and insomnia.
There are numerous theories as to the development of anxiety and its related causes. It is generally a combination of gentical (inherited), psychological, biological, physical and one’s own life experiences.
Some experiences or external factors that cause anxiety are:
- Stress at the workplace
- stress in personal relationships (marital, friendship)
- emotional trauma owing to death or separation of loved ones
- being the victim of a crime
- financial problems
- medical illness
- side effects of medicines
Our body’s reactions to these triggers cause anxiety.
An organ in the brain called the amygdala performs primary roles in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. This almond sized organ causes our body’s flight and fight response to dangerous situation and controls anxiety.
GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder) may be caused by the imbalance of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Two such transmitters that are thought to affect anxiety are serotonin and noradrenalin. When their levels are unbalanced they cause mood swings and increases the likelihood of anxiety related conditions such as GAD.
Types of anxiety
There are six major types of anxiety disorders, each with their own distinct symptom profile: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder (anxiety attacks), phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder: People who suffer from GAD are constant worrywarts and are anxious all the time about many different activities or events.
Panic disorder: This is a type of anxiety disorder in which the person has the repeated attacks of intense fear of things going wrong or something bad bound to happen.
Phobic disorders: An irrational fear that makes one consciously avoid the feared subject, activity or situation. Examples of phobias include fears of insects, open spaces, air travel, heights, and social anxiety.
Obsessive compulsive disorder: Individuals suffer from unwanted or repeated thoughts feelings, ideas or sensations that make them feel driven to do something compulsively. Examples of obsessions include worries about germs or having items in a particular order. Examples of compulsions include counting items or activities, avoiding walking on cracks, or avoiding touching doorknobs.
Separation anxiety disorder: Considered a disorder of children, separation anxiety disorder can be diagnosed when a child becomes extremely anxious in response to anticipating or being separated from one or more care giving adults (usually a parent).
Social anxiety disorder: It is a strong, persisting fear of an interpersonal situation in which embarrassment can occur. Social anxiety disorder can be thought of as extreme shyness. In severe cases, social situations are avoided altogether.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extreme anxiety disorder that can occur in the aftermath of a traumatic or life-threatening event.