Dr. Nikhil Kanase

Anxiety Disorders: The Battle Within

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health disorder. People with anxiety disorders have intense or excessive fear and anxiety about everyday situations. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

Women are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than men. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 30% of adults at some point.

Types Of Anxiety Disorders

  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias

Anxiety Symptoms

The main symptoms of anxiety disorders are excessive fear or worry. Specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have.

Some of the common symptoms include: 

  • Panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Feelings of panic, doom, or danger
  • Sleep problems
  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or rapid heart rate
  • Not being able to stay calm and still
  • Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath or breathing faster and more quickly than normal 
  • Dry mouth and sweating
  • Tense muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Thinking about a problem repeatedly and being unable to stop 
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea or abdominal pains
  • Feeling detached
  • Fear of dying

Anxiety Causes

Some causes of anxiety disorders are: 

Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families.

Brain chemistry: Anxiety disorders are caused due to a few faulty circuits in the brain that control emotions and fear.

Environmental stress: Anxiety disorders can be due to some stressful events you have seen or lived through, such as childhood abuse or the death of a loved one.

Drug withdrawal or abuse: Alcohol and substance abuse can lead to anxiety disorders 

Medical conditions: Some health conditions of the heart, lungs, and thyroid cause symptoms like anxiety disorders or worsen the anxiety symptoms.

Who Is at Risk for Anxiety Disorders?

You may be at higher risk for anxiety disorder if you have or had:

  • Personal or family history of mental health disorder 
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Trauma or stressful events in life
  • Negative life events
  • Severe illness or chronic health condition
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Certain personality traits like shyness or behavioral inhibition

To help diagnose an anxiety disorder, your doctor will perform a psychological evaluation which involves discussing your thoughts, feelings, and behavior to help pinpoint a diagnosis and check for related complications.

Diagnosis becomes more challenging when anxiety disorders often occur, along with other mental health problems like depression or substance abuse.

Anxiety Treatment

People with anxiety disorders often respond well to two types of treatment: 

  • Psychotherapy or “talk therapy”: This type of counseling helps you learn with the help of a therapist about how your emotions affect your behaviors.
  • Anxiety Medications: Several types of drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders.

Talk to your doctor about each medicine’s benefits and side effects to decide which one is best for you.

Complications Of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical conditions, such as:

  • Depression or other mental health disorders
  • Substance misuse
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Digestive or bowel problems
  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Social isolation
  • Poor quality of life
  • Suicide

Early diagnosis and seeking medical care can help reduce the risk of complications associated with anxiety disorders

Preventive Measures of Anxiety Disorders

A few steps can reduce the impact of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

Get help early: Anxiety can be harder to treat if delayed. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing the worsening of anxiety.

Stay active: Participating in activities that make you feel good and enjoying social interaction can lessen your worries and anxiety.

Avoid alcohol or drug abuse: Alcohol and drug misuse can cause or worsen anxiety disorder symptoms.

Anxiety is a treatable mental health condition. Early diagnosis and medical care can help fight anxiety disorders.