All individuals get nervous or anxious at some point of time or the other due to a plethora of reasons. But for some individuals, anxiety becomes so frequent and forceful, that it overpower their lives. Most of the normal anxiety are short lived and the feelings may last for few hours. However, an anxiety problem becomes an anxiety disorder when anxious feelings are very intense and last for weeks or months. Anxiety disorder exists in different forms like panic attacks, social anxiety and phobia.
The most common form of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) during which an individual worries too much about everyday things and situations, both large and small. The person in this condition has persistent anxious thoughts on most days of the week, for six months. Moreover, the anxiety is so overpowering that it interferes with daily life and is coupled by noticeable symptoms like fatigue. The anxiety level goes to such an extent that causes a lot of dysfunction and suffering. If a person suffers from sleep problems and finds himself regularly awake and agitated or worried, then it is a tell-tale sign of generalized anxiety disorder. This is followed by a situation when one wakes up overstimulated with mind racing and one is unable to calm down.
When the anxiety is tied to a specific situation and the fear is overwhelming and out of proportion to the actual risks then the condition is phobia. This can be due to anything ranging from crowd, animals to flying in an aeroplane or using an escalator. Muscle tension like clenching of jaw or fists or flexing of muscles though out the body always accompanies anxiety disorders. Regular exercise can help keep muscle tension under control, but the tension may get triggered up if an injury or other unforeseen event disrupts a person's workout habits. Panic disorder is repeated, unexpected panic attacks where one encounters panic in a situation where most people wouldn’t be afraid. Anxiety also leads to chronic digestive problems like cramping and bloating of stomach.
Social phobia or social anxiety disorder occurs when one develops an intense fear of being judged or embarrassed in public. People with social anxiety disorder have a tendency to worry for weeks leading to an event or situation. When and if they manage it, they tend to be deeply uncomfortable and are always judgemental about it. In case of social anxiety disorder, the anxiety is triggered by everyday situations like one-on-one conversation at a get-together, or eating and drinking in front of small group. The person feels that everybody is watching him and experiences profuse sweating, trembling, nausea and person becomes tongue-tied. These disruptions make it hard for the person to meet new people and maintain relationships.
Panic disorder causes terrifying panic attacks when the person experiences a sudden gripping feeling of fear and helplessness which lasts for several minutes. It is generally accompanied with scary symptoms like breathing problems, a pounding heart, numb hands and sweating.
Excessive fear of being separated from home or a loved one is separation anxiety disorder. Post -traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder in which the patient relives a disturbing or traumatic event like a violent encounter, the sudden death of a loved one.
An anxiety disorder affects the thinking, feelings as well as behaviour of a normal person. It’s important to seek professional help if one see any of the warning signs of anxiety disorders in an individual.