Symptoms & Signs
At times, people tend to miss out the symptoms of Anxiety Disorders. These symptoms develop slowly over time. Moreover, as most of us experience some amount of anxiety in life, it is difficult to know when one must seek help. People suffering from Anxiety Disorders exhibit the following symptoms:-
- Panic and uneasiness
- Being fearful and worried constantly
- Sleep-related problems
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Inability to stay calm
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Numbing of hands and feet
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling you might puke
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling tensed, anxious or irritable
The single root cause of Anxiety Disorders is yet to be traced. Nevertheless, it is certainly not a result of personal weaknesses or character flaws. A major fraction of the Psychiatric community believes that Anxiety is a result of a complex interaction and combination of various factors:-
- A family history of Anxiety(genetics) – It has been observed that many people suffering from anxiety conditions also have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety. A few of their family members often have a history of some Anxiety Disorder or the other. Nevertheless, we cannot conclude that having a parent suffering from an Anxiety Disorder will result in the kids suffering from something similar as well.
- Personality factors – People with certain personality traits are more likely to experience anxiety. For example, people with low self-esteem, those who tend to be perfectionists and the ones who get worried easily are prone to such disorders.
- Life events – Experiencing difficulties such as prolonged work stress, job change, pregnancy, relationship problems, or the loss of loved ones is likely to trigger anxiety.
- Health issues – Chronic physical illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and heart diseases can contribute to Anxiety Disorders.
- Drug Abuse – Some people battling Anxiety Disorders end up using alcohol and/or drugs to manage their condition. In most cases, this leads to the development of substance abuse problems in addition to the previous Anxiety Disorder. Alcohol and drugs can intensify these disorders- especially when the effects of the substance start wearing off.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Panic Attacks
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Specific Phobias
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
If you are experiencing symptoms of any Anxiety Disorder, then the therapist will start by asking you about your medical history. Though there are no specific lab tests to diagnose them, certain assessments can help in figuring out the severity of the disorder you have:-
- Psychological assessments – Your counselor might ask you about your symptoms, feelings, experiences and behavior patterns. Furthermore, he or she might also ask you to fill in certain interviews and assessment tools to evaluate the Anxiety Disorder.
- Tests – In certain cases, your Psychologist may also ask for certain tests to look for any other medical illness that might be causing the symptoms troubling you.
Various therapeutic approaches are used for treating Anxiety Disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy are a few of the popular ones. Therapists also use individual, as well as group therapies depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s comfort.
However, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is undoubtedly the most popular and efficient therapy for treating anxiety. Several research studies show the efficiency of this approach in treating people of all age groups suffering from anxiety. It is a systematic treatment approach which focuses on the way we think (cognition) and behave (behavior) which eventually affects the way we feel. It changes the thoughts and behavior patterns of an individual by teaching how to think about common difficulties in a helpful way. Hence, it shifts negative or unhelpful thought patterns towards a more helpful and positive problem-solving approach.
CBT involves working with a professional therapist to identify and change thought/behavior patterns that are causing anxiety. Therapists can also use it in their audio and video sessions.