Have you ever had to wait for exam results or waiting for the train to arrive while running late for work? Then you have experienced anxiety. Anxiety happens to everyone now and then and it is a normal human emotion. Anxiety can become pathological in some individuals. Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric illnesses that can cause significant distress to an individual. They can interfere with your daily activities, job performances, school, work, relationships and your ability for self-care. The different types of anxiety include panic disorder, social anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, and phobias. There are some common generally known symptoms of anxiety. These include extreme nervousness, fear, uneasiness, panic, problems with sleep, inability to stay or remain calm, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, tense muscle, irritability, shortness of breath, cold sweaty palms, numbness and tingling of hands and feet, etc. (NIH, 2018).
It is believed that anxiety disorders are caused by changes in the brain, genes and the environment. People who have a relative with an anxiety disorder are at higher risk of developing this pathological anxiety. In this disorder, the circuit of the brain that controls fear and other emotions faulty. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed by a practitioner after performing thorough assessment of symptoms and running diagnostic testing. This test results will be to rule out any other medical illness. The management of anxiety may include psychotherapy, medications or both. The practitioners will work with individuals in other to create a proper management regimen that is specific to them (WebMD, 2017).
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is an effective way of managing anxiety disorder. The most commonly used psychotherapy for anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy can be done by a psychiatric practitioner or a psychotherapist. It works on addressing the way one thinks and acts. It also teaches positive coping mechanisms that can be used to reduce anxiety symptoms. It also helps the individual with the recognition of negative or ineffective thought patterns and behaviors that causes anxiety symptoms. There is no medical cure for anxiety disorder but it can be very well managed. Medications that are used for the management of anxiety disorders includes Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used as first-line treatments for anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications can also be prescribed as a short-term therapy for the management of this disorder. Benzodiazepines are the second line of treatment but the most commonly prescribed medication for anxiety disorders. The benefit of benzodiazepine is its ability to work fast and are effective in the reduction of symptoms. The negative effect of this group of medication is its high incidence of dependency and faster tolerance build-up. They should therefore be used as short-term drug therapy (NIH, 2018).
If you have anxiety disorder, there are a few tips that will help you to manage your symptoms.
- Reducing the amount of caffeine, you consume. These include coffee, red bull, chocolate, cola, energy drinks. This is because caffeine has mood-altering capabilities which may increase one’s anxiety.
- Adding exercise to your daily routine. Simple activities such as walking, yoga, dancing, biking, etc. have been known to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Getting enough sleep is also known to be effective. Adults are encouraged to get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation can cause an increase in anxiety symptoms.
WebMD (2017). What Are Anxiety Disorders? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/anxiety-disorders#2
National Institute of Mental Health (NIH). (2018). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml