What is an Anxiety Disorder?
It’s important to recognise that everyone has feelings of anxiety to some extent at one point or another in their life.
These feelings of anxiety could stem from feeling worried about a job interview, sitting an exam, or a medical test; it’s completely normal to feel this way under these circumstances. When these feelings of anxiety become more severe and begin to affect your life on a daily basis, it can feel hard to control your anxiety.
NHS (2021) describes anxiety as a “feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe”. They go on to explain that anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions including phobias such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), substance-induced anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term mental health disorder that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues rather than a specific event.
Signs and Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
When you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you can experience both physical and psychological signs and symptoms.
These could include having trouble concentrating or sleeping, feeling dizzy, having heart palpitations, breathing rapidly, trembling, sweating, nausea, muscle tension, nightmares, repeated thoughts of traumatic experiences, having a sense of impending danger or panic, feeling weak or tired, having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety, or feeling restless and worried.
What are the Causes of Anxiety Disorders?
There can be a wide variety of reasons as to why someone develops an anxiety disorder. Just like any other mental health disorder, anxiety disorders aren’t a weakness, they don’t solely come from character flaws or problems with upbringing, anyone can experience an anxiety disorder.
Whilst it’s difficult to specify the causes of anxiety, it’s likely a combination of factors is at hand. These could include environmental factors such as experiencing a trauma that could trigger an anxiety disorder.
Sometimes anxiety disorders are hereditary so you could inherit them from a family member and in some cases, the cause of an anxiety disorder could be a chemical imbalance where severe or long-lasting stress has changed the chemical balance that controls your mood leading to an anxiety disorder.
It’s also possible for causes of anxiety to be linked to an underlying health issue such as heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, thyroid problems, asthma, and drug or alcohol misuse. In some cases, anxiety signs and symptoms could be an initial indicator that you may have a medical issue that needs investigating.
If there’s no one who you could have inherited an anxiety disorder from, no experience of a trauma which may have triggered an anxiety disorder, then it’s more likely that your mental health disorder could be linked to a medical issue.
How to treat an Anxiety Disorder
Whilst living with a severe anxiety disorder can feel unbearable at times, it’s important to remember that there is support available where you can receive effective anxiety treatment. These treatments could help you to control your anxiety levels but may also need to be continued for a long period of time to ensure it’s effective in the long term.
Some anxiety treatments which have proven to be effective are psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as CBT, or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT); both of these psychological therapies are available at Action Rehab.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a common type of psychotherapy that helps you to turn negative or panic causing thoughts into positive ones. With the help of a trained therapist, you’ll learn how to carefully approach and manage any anxiety-inducing situations without anxiety.
NHS (2021) states it’s possible to receive prescribed medication for an anxiety disorder in the form of an antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). You may find it useful to seek out self-help treatment, stop smoking, reducing your drug, alcohol or caffeine intake, and exercise regularly as new ways to cope with anxiety.
Other techniques for anxiety treatment include learning more about your anxiety disorder, the more you know, the more prepared you’ll feel and the more you’ll understand about your condition. Implement a relaxing bedtime routine to ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep and learn how to relax effectively by utilising meditation or mindfulness.
It can also be helpful to log your thoughts in a journal to relax without anxious thoughts at night. Getting together with friends can also help you to stay healthy, remain positive and keep your anxiety levels down.
Above all, it’s crucial that you seek support. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with others who are in a similar situation to you can be extremely beneficial, as can receiving the support of a professional therapist.
Anxiety Disorders linked to Substance Abuse
There’s no way to predict who will develop an anxiety disorder but there are some steps you can take to reduce the impact of the signs and symptoms. Making sure that you seek out help as soon as possible is key to overcoming your anxiety disorder as effectively as you can. Staying active can also be a key contributor to making you feel good and enjoying social interaction which can, in turn, lessen your anxiety.
Studies have shown that consuming alcohol and taking drugs can be a significant contributors to anxiety disorders. If you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it’s crucial that you seek out professional treatment to help you overcome this addiction, particularly as this will drastically worsen your anxiety disorder.
Even if you drink socially on an infrequent basis, stopping this completely will positively impact your anxiety disorder as alcohol is such a negative influence when you’re living with anxiety.
Living with an anxiety disorder can be extremely draining, you’ll likely feel constantly tired and worried. It may take some time to find the most suitable anxiety treatment for you, but with the correct care and support, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and live an anxiety-free life.
Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2021 at 10:30 am in Mental Health.