WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is a natural response to any situation that poses some threat to the individual. Experiencing anxiety is normal. One feels unpleasant and has a vague sense of apprehension. It may also be accompanied by certain autonomic symptoms such as headache, sweating, racing heart, chest tightening, restlessness and stomach discomfort.
But for the individuals who have an anxiety disorder, this reaction can be more intense, lasting longer and occurring more frequently. Such individuals would usually avoid anxiety provoking situations and may have difficulties in areas of relationships, work, school and other social activities
ARE ANXIETY AND FEAR DIFFERENT?
Yes. Anxiety is experienced as an unpleasant feeling, a sense of apprehension to something that is vague, internal, unknown and conflictual in nature. On the other hand, fear is a response to something external, known and definite threat.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY?
Anxiety can be experienced either through physical or psychological symptoms.
The physical symptoms include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
- Butterflies in stomach
- Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
- Pins and needles
The psychological symptoms include:
- Inner tension
- Fear of losing control
- Feeling dreadful that something catastrophic is going to happen (such as blackout, seizure, heart attack or death)
- Feelings of detachment
WHO IS AT RISK?
If you have a family member with an anxiety disorder, you have a higher chance of developing one.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS?
Panic Disorder– An individual experiences an intense attack of anxiety with a sense of an approaching doom. It can vary from a few attacks a year to several attacks in one day.
Agoraphobia– The individual experiences anxiety in such situations wherein escape would be difficult. Agoraphobia often coexists with panic disorder.
Specific Phobia– The individual has excessive amounts of fear related to a specific object, situation or circumstance. For example- fear of heights, fear of escalators, fear of insects, etc.
Social Anxiety Disorder– The individual may experience fear of a certain social situations that involve interaction with strangers or scrutiny. Individuals may hold the fear of being negatively judged or making a fool of themselves.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder– Individuals may experience anxiety about mostly everything, most days for at least a period of 6 months. Their worry is excessive, difficult to control and associated with physical symptoms like sleep disturbances and irritability.
* If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms, it would be best to seek professional help.
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