How Anxious are you?

Dr. Simrat Kaur    11-09-2016 Consult

Anxiety is not an unknown phenomenon in today's world, where everyone and everything is focused on making it big to the next world! Lucky is the soul who remains untouched by the haunts of anxiety! I am sure, we all have had those sleepless nights before writing an exam that we weren't prepared for, or felt like jumping from the tallest building when we had the worst day of our lives! But the question is, is it normal to feel this way? Or is it a psychological disorder? None of us are too sure about it. 

So what is meant by Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is a body's natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure or are facing a stressful situation. 

We all are aware of the little butterflies filling up our stomachs at the thought of giving an exam, attending an interview, starting a new job, moving away from home, having a baby or before any event that tends to have a big impact on our lives! Different people have different causes of anxiety. Anxiety is a normal human experience, it's sometimes hard to know when it's becoming a problem for you- but if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, it can be overwhelming. 
You might find that you're worrying all the time, perhaps about things that are a regular part of everyday life, or about things that aren't likely to happen- or even worrying about worrying. Or you might regularly experience unpleasant physical and psychological effects of anxiety, and maybe panic attacks. However, depending on the kind of problems you experience, you might be given a diagnosis of a specific anxiety disorder.

Depending on the type of the anxiety disorder, the following are some general symptoms of anxiety:
-       Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Trouble concentrating
- Problems in sleeping
- Feeling tense and jumpy
- Anticipating the worse
- Cold or sweaty hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Anticipating the worst
- Irritability
- Restlessness
- Watching for signs of danger
- Not being able to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Stomach upset or dizziness
- Frequent urination or diarrhoea
- Tremors and twitches
- Muscle tension
- Headaches
- Fatigue
- Hyperventilation
- Hot flashes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Feeling detached or unreal

Types of Anxiety disorders
Different people suffer from different anxiety disorders. Some common one's include
  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): It is a condition wherein a person feels anxious on most days, worrying about health, money, family, work or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries, for a period of six months or more. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.
  3. Panic Disorder: Panic:  Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well. 
  4. Specific phobias: A person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.

Panic attacks and panic disorder are curable conditions. Any person suffering from these disorders can be effectively treated with self-help strategies or a series of therapy sessions.

  1. Self-help: There are various changes you can make to your life to help reduce your feelings of anxiety. Doing some regular physical activity, cutting down on caffeine and eating a healthy diet can also come handy. Learning some relaxation techniques or reading self-help books may improve your symptoms too. It might also help to contact and talk to other people who have anxiety disorders through charities and patient groups. They may be going through something similar to you and be a good source of support and advice. TIP:  Avoid smoking and caffeine; learn how to control your breathing; Practice relaxation techniques; Meditate on a regular basis.
  2. Cognitive behavioural therapy: It is generally viewed as the most effective form of treatment for panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. It focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviours that are sustaining or triggering the panic attacks. It helps you look at your fears in a more realistic light.

Above all, always remember one thing that life is too short to worry or feel anxious about anything. So live it to the fullest, because Y.O.L.O (You Only Live Once).