Keeping Anxiety Disorder at Bay

Anxiety DisorderIn today’s fast-paced society, we typically feel like we’re running in a rat race. Our search for self-fulfillment, social recognition and financial security keeps is never ending. We typically place a high value on success in life, whether it’s for our internal satisfaction or for gaining a certain status in the society. This constant search inevitably makes us feel stressed. This problem is the same for everyone, everywhere. At times we all experience low moments when it looks like we are not good enough and the fear of falling behind closes in on us.

Anxiety, when experienced as a response to a temporary unfavorable situation in life is not an issue. But if this becomes a routine; if you are feeling anxiety on regular basis and it is without a special trigger, then it is time to have a closer look and rule out the possibility of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety Disorder 1With the passage of time, life is becoming more and more demanding and as a result, anxiety disorders are on the rise with no signs of slowing down. In the U.K. anxiety is a common mental health problem being faced right now and at least one in every six Britons is suffering from this disorder. Owing to its hazardous and sneaky nature, it’s important to have a closer look at what actually anxiety disorder is and what are its indicative signs.

Anxiety disorders are categorised by chronic episodes of anxiety and fear for prolonged periods of time. There are a surprising number of illnesses that fall under this category so lets quickly look at each one in turn: 

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder: This anxiety disorder instills a constant worry and fear in your mind without any particular stimulant or negative situation. You will fret about things without any discernable cause or worrisome situation. It becomes so constant that it starts affecting your everyday life in a very negative manner.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: People suffering with social anxiety will be overly self-conscious and will keep making a big issue even in very ordinary situations. They are fearful of being embarrassed in public and also of social rejection for one reason or the other.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This anxiety is usually a result of an extreme incident in life such as an accident, loss of a loved one and sexual abuse. People suffering from this disorder keep having flashbacks of that traumatic event and they find it impossible to get over that experience.
  • Phobias: A phobia is an overwhelming fear of pretty ordinary things such as animals or certain situations like closed spaces. People with a phobia can go at any length to avoid being in a situation that triggers that fear.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: This mental condition instills obsession for trivial matters and forces them to become obsessed with a certain activity for example some people keep washing their hands throughout the day, or keep checking the locks to make sure they are not open.

What Causes Anxiety?

While the exact cause of anxiety disorders is not known, a number of factors have been found to contribute towards developing this problem. First of all, prolonged stress is a well-known cause of anxiety disorders. Other contributors include substance abuse, genetic inheritance and traumatic experiences. It is also dependent on individual personality traits and sensitiveness to stimuli that catalyse or inhibit development of a particular anxiety condition.

Telltale Signs of an Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders are very common these days and anyone can develop this condition. This fact demands extra caution and you need to stay very vigilant at all times and stay on the lookout for any sign of an anxiety disorder. This precaution is absolutely necessary because successfully treating a mental problem is heavily dependent on timely diagnosis and apt attention of a professional psychiatrist. To help you with timely identification and treatment, here are some of the major signs that might be pointing towards an anxiety disorder:

  1. Sleeplessness

SleeplessnessIf you have trouble falling asleep at night due to a constant and unstoppable stream of worrisome thoughts and this pattern is repeating itself frequently, then it is time to become alert and get this possibility checked out. As you know, the earlier, the better.

  1. Inordinate fear

Out of proportion fear for ordinary things and situations is a clear indication of a phobia. For example, if you freeze with fear when you see a particular animal like a spider, then you need to pay attention to it instead of avoiding situations where you can come in close proximity with the object causing that fear.

  1. Tense body

Closely observe subtle changes in your body and look for any particular tension in any or all of the muscles. For example, you might have a stiffness in your body muscles especially in the shoulders or you might be scrunching your jaws constantly throughout the day. This crunching and twitching of muscles could be a sign of anxiety and needs to be checked.

  1. Prolonged indigestion

The digestive system is very sensitive to psychological problems and longstanding digestion problems like constipation, gas and stomachaches could be a possible warning of anxiety problems.

  1. Low confidence and self-esteem

While it is natural to be concerned about your appearance and how you want people to think about you, over-consciousness of self in context of public image is an alarming signal. It can also take the form of lowered self-esteem and manifest in the shape of self-doubt that you are not good enough to face life’s realities. Special attention needs to be focused on sudden changes in confidence and self-esteem.

  1. Panic attacks

Sudden panic attacks are an obvious sign of anxiety disorder. These attacks instigate overpowering fear, heavy sweating and other symptoms like numbness and breathlessness.  If these attacks are a regular occurrence, you need to immediately seek the help of an anxiety disorder psychiatrist.

  1. Flashbacks

The inability to get over a past untoward episode is a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder and needs professional help right away.

  1. Uncontrollable behaviors

If the urge of performing a certain action or ritual over and over again is uncontrollable, then it is most likely an obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder. If not attended properly, it can seriously affect the quality of life.

Pre-empting Anxiety

In order to avoid the nuisance of anxiety disorder, you should lead a simple life and be gentler with yourself. The following tips can give you a start towards living a stress and anxiety-free life:

  • Stay positiveStay positive – Even if something in life is not going according to your plans, you have the choice of staying positive instead of getting caught in the cycle of negativity and self-pity. You should also avoid negative people and situations if you want to stay positive at all times.
  • Exercise – Taking out time to regularly work out is good not only for your body but also for your mind and psychological health keeping anxiety at bay.
  • Meditate – This wonderful activity is a great way of providing your constantly buzzing mind with a moment of respite and relief. By breaking the non-stop torrent of unwanted thoughts, meditation can definitely stay away from anxiety.

MeditateIf you have anxiety disorder tendency in your family or if you feel that certain symptoms of anxiety are starting to show up, it becomes even more important to consult an anxiety disorder psychiatrist and have yourself examined thoroughly. According to a Harvard Health report on anxiety, an estimated 30% of people who have an anxiety disorder never get to receive treatment. This is a very disconcerting fact and this needs to be addressed. So do not rely only on hearsay and avoid self-medications and therapies, if you want to lead a healthy life which is a prerequisite for success, achievement and recognition.

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About Ferland Manuel

Dr, Manuel Ferland is health care specialist,