Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Anxiety Disorder: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

This article is to help you ease the stress behind your constant feelings of worry and anxiety and prescribe the best way out of it. Find the answers now!!!

What if I tell you that anxiety is a normal body defense mechanism that alerts your brain against stress and potential danger?

Do you remember times when you had a lot at stake? For example, times when you are worried over the safety of a trip, before taking a test, or before making an important money decision, hence, occasional anxiety is OK. But occasional is not the case with anxiety disorders. Here is an overview of what you tend to experience with anxiety disorder mental illnesses.

“A constant and overwhelming worry and fear that usually interferes with your day to day activities”

Peculiar to these disorders, is that they are usually triggered by specific situations that worsen your symptoms. However, the good news is, with treatment, your feelings can be managed.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Are you mindful of the several types of anxiety disorders that exist? This list might surprise you. Let’s take a look. Shall we?

  1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Do you usually feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason? If yes, you may have GAD.
  2. Panic Disorder. Occurs in individuals who occasionally feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. And with panic attacks come profuse sweating, chest pain, and heart palpitations. Other times you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack.
  3. Social Anxiety Disorder. Also known as social phobia. Be aware that when you obsessively worry and are self-conscious about others judging you from daily social situations. You may have social anxiety.
  4. Specific Phobias. Most people are familiar with this, as a feeling of intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. But know that once It makes you avoid ordinary situations, it becomes a case of an anxiety disorder.
  5. Agoraphobia. Arise from an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs. For example, you may panic or feel anxious when on an airplane, public transportation, or standing in line with a crowd in a concert.
  6. Separation Anxiety. This is an intense anxious or fearful feeling you have when a person you’re close with leaves your sight. It makes you worry so much about their safety.
  7. Selective Mutism. This is the situation with young kids who talk normally with their family but  don’t speak in public, like at school. Such kids might be suffering from selective mutism anxiety disorder.
  8. Medication-induced Anxiety Disorder. Researchers say the use of certain medications, illegal drugs, or withdrawal from certain drugs, can trigger or cause anxiety disorder.
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Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Anxiety disorders cause excessive fear or worry psychologically. This can also translate into physical symptoms like difficulties breathing, sleeping, staying still, and concentrating. Your specific symptoms will depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have.

Here are some symptoms common to anxiety disorders :

  • Panic, fear, and uneasiness.
  • Feelings of panic, doom, or danger.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Not being able to stay calm and stil.
  • Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Breathing faster and more quickly than normal (hyperventilation).
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Dizziness.
  • Thinking about a problem over and over again and unable to stop (rumination).
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places.

Anxiety Disorder Causes and Risk Factors

Researchers have said that they don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders because a complex mix of things plays a role in who does and doesn’t get one.

These are called risk factors. Some risk factors you can’t change, but others you can. Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:

Factors Causing  Anxiety Disorder

  • You are likely to be affected if anxiety disorders run in the family.
  • Brain chemistry. Some researchers have also come out to suggest that anxiety disorders may be due to faulty circuits that control fear and emotions in the brain.
  • Traumatic environmental stress. Most people can relate to this because inevitably, we all live through stressful events. But at most risk are people who have lived through traumatic life events causing post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) like, childhood abuse and neglect, death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
  • Drug withdrawal or misuse. An anxiety disorder may result from your indiscriminate experimentations with alcohol and substance use.
  • Medical conditions. When there are underlying conditions with the heart, lung, and thyroid, you may experience symptoms similar to anxiety disorders. It’s advisable to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when consulting your doctor about anxiety.
  • If you experience other mental health disorders, like depression, it’s very likely that it will raise your risk for anxiety disorder.
  • Being shy as a child. Not getting over shyness and withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places as a child can build up to social anxiety in teens and adults.
  • Low self-esteem. Having negative perceptions about yourself will contribute to your risk of experiencing a social anxiety disorder.
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Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis

Let me run you through what to expect on a doctor’s appointment. You will have to discuss your symptoms with the doctor while you are being examined and asked questions about your medical history.

Expect to have your vitals checked and some tests run to rule out other health conditions that might be causing your symptoms.

For a fact, no lab tests can specifically diagnose anxiety disorders. But once your doctor doesn’t find any underlying physical reason for how you feel from all the testing, envisage that you would be sent you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist.

Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and testing to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.

Your doctors will consider how long you’ve had symptoms and how intense they are  when diagnosing you. It’s important to let your doctors or counselors know if your anxiety makes it hard to enjoy or complete everyday tasks at home, work, or school.

Anxiety Disorder Treatments

Treatment of anxiety disorders usually involves reducing and managing symptoms. Two common ways in practice to achieving these are by taking medicine and counseling.

  1. Medication. Available are several types of drugs to treating anxiety disorders. Taking the best one for you needs your doctor or psychiatrist prescription.

Here are some of them:

    • Antidepressants
    • Bupropion
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Beta-blockers
    • Anticonvulsants
    • Antipsychotics
    • Buspirone (BuSpar)
  1. Psychotherapy: Sometimes also referred to as talk therapy. The major objective of this type of counseling is to help you learn how your emotions affect your behaviors. It is usually a situation where a trained expert listens and talks to you about your thoughts and feelings. Thereafter they are able to suggest ways to understand and manage them, from the analysis of your anxiety disorder.
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This common type of psychotherapy teaches you how to turn negative, or panic-causing, thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. You’ll learn ways to carefully approach and manage fearful or worrisome situations without anxiety. Some places offer family CBT sessions.

Managing Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

The following tips may help you avoid episodes of anxiety attacks or at least lessen your symptoms.

  1. Learn about your disorder. Be aware to be better prepared at managing symptoms and roadblocks along the way. The more you know the less you would be caught off guard.
  2. Stick to your treatment plan. From all that have been discussed thus far, you ought to have realized that suddenly stopping your meds can cause unpleasant side effects and can even trigger anxiety symptoms.
  3. Cut down on caffeine intake. Foods and drinks that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolates may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug.
  4. Don’t abuse drugs. Abuse of alcohol and recreational street drugs may increase your risk of anxiety disorders.
  5. Eat right and exercise. Exercising can help your brain secret chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood.
  6. Get better sleep. Sleeping problems can contribute to your anxiety disorder, you should prioritise following a relaxing bedtime routine.
  7. Learn to relax. Relaxing is a good stress management plan. Meditating, or practicing mindfulness, can help you unwind after a stressful day and may make your treatment work better.
  8. Keep a journal. When you write down your thoughts, you are likely not going to be tossing and turning with anxious thoughts all night.
  9. Manage your negative thoughts. Positive thinking is an antidote to worrisome thoughts and can help reduce anxiety. Though challenging, but through cognitive behavioral therapy you can learn how to redirect your thoughts.
  10. Get together with friends. It might interest you to know that people who have a close group of friends that support and chat with them have lower levels of social anxiety. So it is important to connect with friends and family through any platform available. I mean virtually or in person.
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Final Thoughts

Living with an anxiety disorder can be challenging and frustrating for sure. The impact of constant worry and fear can be tiring and hard to cope with. Talking to a doctor will set you on the right course towards proper management and recovery. But know that there is no quick fix. Finding the right treatment that works for you may take a while.

Another thing is, a combo of several kinds of treatment may be necessary if you have more than one anxiety disorder. More so, most people will require a combination of medicine and counseling for their anxiety. It’s almost a rule of thumb. With proper care and treatment, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and thrive. And remember to adhere strictly to your treatment plan. You are the number one member of your health team.

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