I am Dr Omkar Mate consultant neuropsychiatrist practicing at Midas Clinic Neurl, Navi Mumbai.
Now let us talk about anxiety and anxiety disorders . Anxiety is that feeling of nervousness, sometimes associated with traveling, racing heart and shortness or difficulty of breathing. Anxiety is a normal response of human mind and body to certain stressful situations . It is not always bad like stress too is not always bad, being anxious before exams leads a person to study better, work better and get better marks. This stress is a positive stress which increases performance, it is called used stress. However, sometimes a person becomes so anxious that the anxiety hampers or reduces person's functioning of performance, this is distress.
The next level of distress is an anxiety disorder - there are different types of anxiety disorders like a panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, various types of phobias . Let us look briefly at each one of them.
A panic disorder is something which is made up of panic attacks . What is a panic attack ? Panic attack is that intense fear or anxiety with associated symptoms like racing heart, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath where sometimes the person feels suffocated and he feels that I am going to die. This episode usually lasts for 15 minutes to an hour and goes away on its own, but sometimes these episodes recur and a person remains fearful that I will get this episode again. In such cases a panic disorder is diagnosed.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is another anxiety disorder, here a person repeatedly checks things like door, gas stoves, light switches, sometimes a patient has a habit of washing hands repeatedly. Now all these things are usually repeated by a person to take care of anxiety and a reason for the anxiety in such patients are thoughts. There may be thoughts that somebody close to them maybe ill, or thoughts that my hands are dirty and illness will spread in my family because of my dirty hands, it can be thoughts like the gas stove or door is not locked and robbers will rob my house or the gas stove being on can lead to an accident. Usually, the themes are related to fear and illness or death. Repeated thoughts make the person anxious which in turn causes such behaviour .
If such symptoms lead to hampering of his or her life or his functioning or his profession then it needs to be treated , if the symptoms are for more than half an hour to 1 hour. Another anxiety disorder is what we call a social anxiety disorder. Here a person is fearful or afraid of making public appearances or talking in public places or going to social gatherings with a constant fear of thought in their mind that what will others think about me, whether I will make a fool of myself . This leads people to avoid certain social situations.
If a person who is a management person is scared of making presentations , this will definitely affect his performance. So in such cases where a person's performance -occupationally or socially is dependent on his public speaking and he is not able to do so because of anxiety then we diagnose it as social anxiety disorder.
One of the commonest anxiety disorder seen is something which we call as phobias. All of us are aware of a phobia like many of us are scared of injections or needles, there are some of us who faint on seeing blood. Similarly, there are different phobias like fear of height, fear of closed spaces like claustrophobia and fear of crowded places which is agoraphobia. A person having phobia need not always be treated, for example if a person who has fear of heights is not required to go on tall places as it may not be treated.
However, if certain phobias are actually leading to problems like fear of flying in planes in a person who wants to travel abroad or who has to travel for work, it makes that person afraid and he tends to avoid such situations. So functional impairment in such cases need treatment for phobia, around 1 in 5 people suffer from one or other anxiety disorder, however, many times they are not detected. Anxiety disorders are the most treatable disorders and mostly curable also with the help of medicines and proper therapy techniques and counselling techniques.
Thank you for more enquiries about anxiety disorders you can contact me through lybrate.