Anxiety is 'REAL', Know more about Anxiety Disorders
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety or worry is a normal human emotion like all other emotions which stems from stress. It’s a normal human reaction to a perceived threat in any situation. It comes with uneasiness, discomfort, nervousness, fear of what might happen. Generally, some levels of anxiety and worry is faced by all of us in our day to day lives but if we get overwhelmed with it and worry excessively, and when it disrupts the daily functioning of our mind and body, then it’s alarming and you might be suffering from anxiety disorder.
What can most commonly trigger Anxiety?
Most of us might not be aware that it also serves as a basic survival function. While facing any tensed situation, like, facing an interview, sitting in an exam or thinking about our future or feeling fearful about something like seeing a dog or a snake in front of you, we feel certain kind of sensations in our body like, racing heart-beat, tensed muscles, sweaty palms and forehead, cold hands, arms and legs shaking, discomfort in stomach that we feel like using a washroom. All these sensations are the fight or flight response of our body and this happens when we encounter any terrifying situation. During this time, our sympathetic nervous system gets stimulated and activates the adrenal glands in our body which release the hormone called adrenaline and other chemicals that prepare the body to get rid of the stressed situation. Now, the brain takes some time to process the information and to understand whether the threat is real, and if it is, then how to handle it. If the brain evaluates the situation to be non-threatening, then it gives the signal to the body and its fight or flight response is deactivated and the nervous system relaxes. On the contrary, if the processed information by the brain says that the threat may last longer, then the anxiety symptoms also continue for a longer time.
Feelings of anxiety can be mild or intense depending upon the situation and the personality of the individual. Mild anxiety can be feeling uneasy or nervous during a situation and intense anxiety can be feeling fearful, too much worried or can even lead to panic. The good news is that sometimes, anxiety is also helpful because it makes the person alert and focused and enables him to give his best, for example, while preparing for the exams, anxiety helps the students to be focused and prepare hard as a result of which they give excellent results.
Let's know about the disorders that are related to anxiety called as Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety becomes a disorder when it is intense and obstructs the daily flow of your life, affects your sleep or changes your behavior. Anxiety disorders are certain mental health conditions that are among the most common ones. They are of different kinds and have different symptoms. They affect all age groups-children, adults and teenagers. Be it any kind of anxiety disorder but all have one thing in common: it occurs frequently and is very strong and affects the well- being of an individual. The symptoms can stem up all of a sudden or can build up over a period of time and continue till the person realizes that something is actually wrong. Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming that the person starts having a feeling of hopelessness not understanding from where it has come.
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by patterns of frequent, persistent excessive worry and anxiety which is not restricted to any specific events or circumstances. This is excessive and prolonged worry which typically involves minor or everyday matters like, work, finances, relationships, routine tasks or safety and health of loved ones. Individuals suffering from GAD generally do not acknowledge their excessive worry but they are preoccupied with many things and are unable to control it. This is also called as Free Floating Anxiety, means, anxiety which is not related to any specific set of events or circumstances but happens in all situations or tasks. This disorder is found to be more in women and usually has its onset in late adolescence or early adulthood.
The clinical characteristics of GAD are:
Excessive, persistent and frequent worry.
Difficulty in concentrating.
Irritability in most activities.
2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)
It is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent, repetitive thoughts, ideas or images that come in mind of the individual and are experienced as irrational and intrusive. These individuals can very well make out that these obsessions are coming from their own mind from nowhere. In attempt to stop them or ignore them, they tend to distract themselves by doing some other repetitive actions called as compulsions. This behavior is repeated to reduce the distress caused by those intrusive thoughts in individuals. Elaborate rituals are an example of compulsions, it’s a particular sequence of actions which the person is compelled to do and if by any chance the sequence is broken or any step missed out, the whole ritual is repeated all over again.
It is important to note over here that all repetitive thoughts are not obsessions for example, when we say, “He is obsessed with music”, this obsession in not related to that OCD, here it means that the person is indulging in the activity with his own will in order to derive pleasure from it and there is no compulsion of any kind.
Let us have a look at some of the common obsessions and compulsions:
Repeated thoughts about contamination from dirt, germs, urine or faeces.
Repetitive doubts (whether doors, locks, taps gas stove knobs are closed, lights are off or not).
A need to arrange the things in a particular order like, arranging books, shoes, clothes in the cupboard very neatly.
Fearful thoughts that they might hurt someone physically.
Having unacceptable sexual thoughts and images.
Washing and cleaning hands excessively, bathing, tooth brushing, excessive cleaning of objects used by others, excessive grooming.
Counting (number of stairs and tiles used for walking).
Repetitive checking of doors, locks, taps, lights, gas stoves.
Arranging the objects in a particular sequence.
Repeating daily activities.
Re-reading and re-writing.
OCD is the most common and severe anxiety disorder and affects 1 to 3 percent of population once in their lifetime. It occurs in all age groups. Though OCD is a common illness, many who suffer from it do not take any treatment but it should be noted that if it is left untreated, it can become chronic and can worsen even more during stressful conditions