There is a vast difference between occasional anxiety and an anxiety disorder. The former is a normal part of a person’s life, but the later is a mental illness that affects them in various ways. To a great extent, occasional anxiety helps us prepare for the events and situations that we find difficult to handle. However, an anxiety disorder is a mental problem that prevents us from carrying out an activity or participating in an event because we have unrealistic fears about it.
According to Charter Harley Street, “Feelings of anxiety can seriously undermine your ability to enjoy anything or to get on with your life.” It further says that “You might start to lose sleep or your appetite, to feel breathless or panicked. But because this is a feeling that can be so hard to describe, it might be difficult for others to reassure you, so instead, you say nothing.”
In some cases, the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder can stem from an underlying health condition such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, respiratory problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and heart disease, etc. Apart from that, they can also occur due to tumours, chronic pain, and the side -effects of medications. In short, an anxiety disorder can occur both due to mental and physical health problems, and anyone can suffer from it irrespective of their age.
Common risk factors for anxiety disorder include drug use, stress and depression, and trauma, etc.
According to The National Institute of Mental Health,”Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.”
People with an anxiety disorder remain at a higher risk of bowel problems, sleep problems, depression, substance misuse, and chronic pain. Besides, they are also vulnerable to headaches.
Common Anxiety Disorders Include
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Selective mutism
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder
Symptoms of An Anxiety Disorder
Whether you talk about people struggling with a separation anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, specific phobias, or selective mutism, they all experience the frequent episodes of increased nervousness or intense anxiety. For example, if you talk about those struggling with a social anxiety disorder, they get very nervous while giving public speeches. Similarly, people with separation anxiety disorder get nervous whenever the thought of separating from their loved ones or friends comes in their mind.
Rapid breathing is also a common symptom of an anxiety disorder. Yes, irrespective of the type of anxiety disorder you have, you will experience frequent episodes of rapid breathing whenever you confront a worrisome situation.
Increased Heart Rate
People with anxiety disorder have a faster heart rate when compared to healthy people. Their heartbeats start increasing the moment they come across a situation that they feel is anxious. For example, if you are struggling with a specific phobia, you must be having an unreasonable fear linked to a particular object or situation and once you confront that your heartbeat starts increasing. That’s because you are scared of it.
Excessive worrying is one of the most common signs of an anxiety disorder. People who keep worrying all the time, struggle with both mental and physical exhaustion, which reduces their quality of life tremendously.
Mental and physical exhaustion reduces your capacity to focus on anything, which eventually increases your frustration level.
Difficulty Falling Asleep
Since you keep getting worried about everyday situations, it creates difficulty falling asleep. No matter how hard you try to fall asleep, the negative thoughts keep coming to your mind, which prevent you from sleeping.
Apart from that, trembling, sweating, and restlessness, etc., are also common signs of anxiety disorder.
Here Are The Tips for Addressing An Anxiety Disorder
Seek Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Based on the idea that the way we think and act, have a tremendous impact on the way we feel, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is one of the best ways to treat anxiety disorder.
It’s a psychological treatment, wherein a therapist focuses on helping patients develop coping skills. The therapist tries to discover the actual cause of your anxiety in the first place. Yes, they identify the negative thoughts that are creating problems for you and then teach you how to deal with them.
Your therapist will encourage you to think realistically and face your fears. They will motivate you to think positively and ignore negative thoughts. Besides, your therapist will also teach you relaxation techniques, which will help in bringing a world of difference in your overall health.
Apart from CBT, exposure therapy, which exposes you to your fears, is another excellent way to beat your anxiety. When you opt for this treatment, your therapist will encourage you to face your fear, to overcome it.
For example, if you have aquaphobia or fear of water, your therapist will expose you to water, to eliminate your unrealistic fear. Similarly, if you have silly fears about public speaking, your therapist will encourage you to watch public speaking videos, interact with more people, and prepare yourself for giving a speech.
When you watch public speaking videos, it helps in gathering that much-needed courage and enhances your confidence level, which eventually helps you face your fears.
Apart from the above therapies, you can also opt for complementary therapies such as exercise, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, and hypnosis, etc., to get rid of your fears.