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Complete Guide to Anxiety With Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2023

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety can be referred to as a normal human emotion which can be felt by a person which triggers increased alertness, fear, and worry. Due to such worry the person may feel fast heartbeat and palpitations, may have rapid breathing, sweating, irritation and tiredness. It is considered to be a normal emotional reaction if it occurs very often but ,if the person starts feeling disproportionate levels of anxiety then it might be considered as medical disorder. Anxiety belongs to the category of mental health.

The development of this condition leads to a person feeling excessive fear, apprehension, worry, and nervousness. This disorder can alter the normal process of emotions, can raise blood pressure and thus resulting into physical symptoms like aggression, irritation, dissociation etc. Day to day living of a person gets affected if a person is suffering from the problem of severe anxiety. Anxiety disorder is very common among people of all the age groups around the world. Only 37 percent of the people suffering from the condition of anxiety receive treatment for the condition. There are various anxiety disorders from which a person might be suffering from.

What are the 6 types of Anxiety?

Anxiety can be categorized into six sections:

  • Phobias: Intense fears associated with animals, objects, or situations following unhealthy Anxiety is known as phobia. Phobia is associated with specific trauma related to an event, object, subject, living creature, etc. in phobia, a person often avoids fear-triggering situations that can lead to major anxiety and distress.
  • Generalized Anxiety: Intense episodes of Anxiety triggered by stressful life events can develop a case of generalized Anxiety disorder. Events like finances, school or job performance, natural disasters, world events, relationships with others, or topics that trigger Anxiety. Since Anxiety is associated with general lifestyle situations its frequency is quite high which may lead to headaches, muscle tension, stomach aches, and irritability.
  • Panic Disorder: Combination of sensations including racing heart, rapid breathing, blurred vision, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain, sweating, shaking, feelings of doom, feeling like the world isn’t real is known as panic disorder. Panic triggers can be specific or uncertain. The episode of panic disorder can last up to 15 minutes.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Also known as a social phobia can be defined as a fear of social situations, where one can feel stupid or embarrassed. One often confuses social Anxiety disorder with shyness. Shyness is minor discomfort interacting in a certain situation or people but on the other hand, a social Anxiety disorder can hamper an individual's social life and career.
  • OCD and PTSD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is known as grouped with Anxiety disorders with different causes and triggers. One of the main symptoms both have is intense and frequent episodes of Anxiety.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD): An intense and constant feeling of separation or losing. SAD is common in the early stages of life and after losing someone close to you. Anxiety can make the patient more clingy to have someone for any general situation.

What are the Early Symptoms of Anxiety?

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A person might experience the following symptoms if he/she is suffering from the problem of anxiety disorder

  • A person might feel restlessness like being on the edge.
  • A person might get irritated easily.
  • It may become difficult for a person to concentrate.
  • A person might experience uncontrolled feeling of worry
  • A person might have difficulty in sleeping or staying asleep for a normal duration of time.

These symptoms will be experienced on a more persistent level for a person suffering from severe anxiety disorder. The symptoms given above are felt by most of the people living around the world, but they choose to avoid these symptoms. Some people are of the belief that these are normal human emotions as they do not require any treatment.

Is Anxiety a mental illness?

Anxiety is a part of human genetics like any other emotion like happiness, sadness, or anger. Everyone at a certain point in their lives feels a little anxious. But frequent episodes of Anxiety can develop a case of Anxiety disorders. Constant episodes can lead to Anxiety disorder which can be considered a mental illness.

What is the Main Cause for Anxiety?

The cause because of which a person suffers from anxiety disorder can be complicated sometimes. Several causes might occur at once, while some causes might lead to other causes. Some of the possible causes of anxiety are given below

  • A person who has a history of family members suffering from the problem of anxiety may encounter this condition in his/her life.
  • Another cause which can lead to anxiety are difficulties in work, family problems, and relationship issues.
  • The withdrawal of an illegal substance from the body of a person can also lead to the development of anxiety.
  • In some of the cases a person might suffer from anxiety either because of any medical condition or due to the side effect of any medicine.
  • The misalignment of electrical signals in the brain and secretion of certain hormones can also be a cause of anxiety in some people.

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What are the Precautions Should be Taken in Anxiety?

There are several ways by which a person can take precautions and reduce the risk of the anxiety disorder. It is important to remember that feeling anxiousness is a normal phenomenon. If a person experiences them it does not mean he/she is suffering from the problem of anxiety disorder. However, taking precaution can be very helpful. The precautions which must be followed by a person suffering from the problem of anxiety disorder are

  • Maintaining a healthy diet.
  • A person should avoid alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.
  • A regular sleep pattern must be followed by all the persons.
  • Before taking any medicine it must be checked with the doctor.
  • A person should reduce the intake of caffeine, cola, and tea.

How to Diagnose Anxiety?

A single test is not enough to diagnose the condition of anxiety. For diagnosing this condition it requires a very lengthy process of mental, psychological, and physical examinations. Some of the doctor may order blood or urine test for ruling out any medical condition that might be causing this problem. During the physical examination a doctor might look for symptoms like shaking, sweating, racing heart, chills, frequent urination, and twitching. The level of anxiety may be measured by the doctor through the following tests

  • HAM-A (Hamilton Anxiety Scale)
  • Zung-Self rating anxiety scale
  • Social phobia inventory

Can Anxiety be cured?

At a certain level Anxiety is not considered a mental illness, rather it is known as a part of their genetic makeup. But after a certain level where it starts to damage your body, it is considered as a mental disorder that does not have any cure so far.

Even though the illness is incurable, the right treatment and medication can help you to lower down the intensity of your Anxiety.

What are the Treatments Available for the Anxiety?

Once a person is diagnosed with anxiety disorder then a doctor can explore a wide range of treatment options for a person. In some cases medical treatment is not necessary. Bringing some necessary changes to the lifestyle may be enough to alleviate the symptoms. For people suffering from moderate to severe cases medical treatment can help in overcoming the symptoms of the anxiety disorder. A treatment for anxiety can be done in two ways. The first way is through counseling and secondly through some medicines. For the treatment related to counseling a doctor may advise psychotherapy, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or a combination of therapies.

There are various medications which a doctor may also prescribe for the management of anxiety like benzodiazepines, tricyclics, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Does Anxiety go away if you ignore it?

Anxiety does not stay in a constant state, it comes and goes in an episode. It may feel like a roller coaster where sometimes you go on a sudden high level of Anxiety where it can consume you but on the other hand, you can be peaceful like you never feel anxious in your life.

If ignored the high episodes can get more frequent which can damage your internal system.

What type of doctor is best for anxiety?

The best doctors for anxiety are psychiatrists. They have received specialised training in both identifying and treating mental health issues. Psychiatrists can easily diagnose anxiety and other similar conditions. They provide psychotherapy for the treatment of these conditions.

When to see a doctor for anxiety?

You should immediately consult your doctor if you cannot cope with the symptoms of anxiety and feel a need to talk to a therapist about your problems. Talk to a doctor if you have the following symptoms of anxiety:

  • Faster heartbeat
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Pain attacks
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Feeling irritated

How does a doctor test your anxiety?

The doctor can test or diagnose your anxiety on the basis of the following symptoms:

  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Feeling irritated
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilation
  • Restlessness
  • Having tense muscle
  • Tired
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Trembling
  • Nervousness

What Anxiety can do to your body?

Even though Anxiety is considered a normal human emotion, prolonged and intense Anxiety episodes can lead to internal physical damages like:

  1. Cardiovascular distress: Anxiety can increase your heart rate which leads to increased blood rate, palpitations, and chest pain. Frequent Anxiety attacks can lead to various cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, etc.
  2. Disturbance in the digestive system: During an Anxiety episode, your brain sends signals to your digestive system to stop digestion. This may lead to nausea, constipation, muscle tension, diarrhea, stomachaches, and other digestive issues in the short term. In the long term, Anxiety can lead to IBS.
  3. Weaken immunity system: Under Anxiety, your brain sends neural signals to your body which can trigger your flight-or-fight stress response. In some cases, it can be amusing due to the chemical release of hormones, like adrenaline, but in the long term, the chemical can weaken your immunity.
  4. Unbalanced respiration: Anxiety can suddenly make your breath rapidly shallow in a very short period of time. This can lead to shortness of breath and other life-threatening situations, especially in the case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) where Anxiety-related complications can lead to hospitalization.

Does Anxiety go away with medication?

As mentioned earlier Anxiety does not have any cure to date. But many mental health professionals believe that treating symptoms associated with Anxiety-like insomnia, headache, chest pain, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, etc. can ease out your Anxiety.

Other than that anti-Anxiety drugs like Benzodiazepines ( for short term use) and SSRI antidepressants ( for long term use) can slow down the hormonal secretion associated with Anxiety.

What are the Natural Ways for the Treatment of Anxiety?

There are some natural ways through which anxiety can be managed. Making changes in the lifestyle can be a very effective way of reducing anxiety and stress. the majority of the natural remedies involve taking care of your body. Some of the natural remedies which can be used are

  • Getting a proper sleep of 8 hours.
  • A person can meditate for the relief in symptoms.
  • A person should avoid taking alcohol.
  • Consumption of caffeine must also be reduced.
  • A person should quit smoking cigarettes.
  • A person should stay active and workout.
  • A person must consume a healthy diet.

What foods to avoid if you have Anxiety?

Not everyone knows that but some food products can also trigger your Anxiety, here is the list of food items that can trigger your Anxiety:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can unbalance the levels of serotonin and the neurotransmitters in the brain which not only dehydrates and disturb your sleep pattern but also suppress your Anxiety which can bounce back when the effects of alcohol wear off. One can replace it with nonalcoholic beer, mocktails, or sparkling water.
  • Caffeine: Regular consumption of caffeine can lower the secretion of serotonin in the body leading to depression and sleeplessness. One can replace its daily intake of high caffeine products with herbal teas like Matcha tea which are filled with pleasing elements that can relax an individual after a busy day.
  • Fermented, and cultured foods: Food products that went under the process are rich in biogenic amines like histamine which can create an unbalance in your hormonal, nervous, and digestive system. It also triggers your sleeplessness and Anxiety. Cultured food can easily be replaced with wholesome fresh food items.
Summary: Anxiety is not considered a mental illness, rather it is known as a part of natural genetic makeup. But after a certain level where it starts to damage your body, it is considered as a mental disorder that does not have any cure so far.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best drink for anxiety?

Ginger, maca, apple cider vinegar, turmeric and ashwagandha are among the best drinks for anxiety.

Is water good for anxiety?

Yes, water has calming properties that are good for anxiety.

What is the fastest relief of anxiety?

The quickest method of anxiety alleviation is meditation.

Is anxiety a form of mental illness?

Undoubtedly, the most prevalent type of mental disorder is anxiety.

Do you go to a neurologist for anxiety?

No, neurologists can only help with nervous system conditions.

How do I reset my brain from anxiety?

You should do exercises and listen to relaxing music to reset your mind.

Does anxiety affect memory?

Yes, anxiety can lead to memory loss.

What hormone causes anxiety?

Stress hormones namely cortisol and adrenaline cause anxiety.

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Written ByMs. Taral Parekh Post Graduate Diploma In Counselling Psychology,Masters of Counselling Psychology,CE in Cognitive Behavior TherapyPsychology
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