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What is an Anxiety Disorder? Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Anxiety is the natural stress response of the body. It is a sensation of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. Going on a date, the first day of school, or going for a job interview, these all parts of our lives sometimes make us feel fearful and nervous.

But if your anxiety feelings are extreme, last for longer than six months, and intervenes with your life, it is most likely that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Knowing the difference between anxiety disorder and regular feelings of anxiety can help a person identify and get the treatment soon.

What is anxiety disorder?

Feeling anxious when moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test is normal; this type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and perform better. Typical anxiety is a feeling that is not constant; it comes and goes and does not affect your daily life.

In the case of anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear is with you all the time. It is intense and debilitating. This type of anxiety prevents you from doing things you enjoy. It may prevent you from entering an elevator, driving a car, or even leaving your home in severe cases. If it is treated soon, the anxiety will keep on getting more intense.

Anxiety disorders are a common emotional disorder, and anyone can fall prey to them at any age. American Psychiatric Association states women are more prone than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What causes anxiety disorders?

The exact anxiety cause of anxiety disorders is unknown; the National Institute of Mental Health believes that a mixture of inherited and environmental factors may play an essential role. Brain chemistry is also being regarded as a possible cause. The brain areas that control fear response may be involved.

Anxiety disorders usually occur with other mental health conditions such as substance abuse and depression. Many people try to ease the anxiety symptoms by using alcohol or other drugs. The relief these substances provide is temporary. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other drugs can make an anxiety disorder worse.

Some medical causes may trigger anxiety disorders, these includes:

  • Heart disease
  • Drug misuse or withdrawals
  • Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pneumonic disease and asthma
  • Withdrawal effects of alcohol, anti-anxiety medicines such as benzodiazepines
  • Rare tumors that generate certain fight-or-flight hormones

Sometimes anxiety can be a repercussion of certain medicines. The anxiety may be because of an underlying medical condition if:

  • You have a sudden episode of anxiety that seems unrelated to life events, and you did not have a history of anxiety
  • You didn’t have any blood relatives with an anxiety disorder
  • You don’t avoid things or situations due to anxiety.

What are the anxiety types?

There are other variants of anxiety disorder that people go through; these include:

  • Social Phobia

Social phobia, also known as Social Anxiety disorder, is an anxiety disorder distinguished by baffling anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in daily social situations. Social phobia can be confined to only one type of situation – such as a fear of speaking in informal or formal situations or eating or drinking in front of strangers – or its severe form may be so broad that an individual goes through symptoms almost anytime are around with people.

  • Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a form of anxiety disorder and is characterized by repeated and unexpected episodes of intense fear or embarrassment by physical symptoms that include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that develops after showing a terrifying event or distress in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, human-caused disasters, natural disasters, or military combat.

  • Generalized Anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, also called GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated tension, and worry, even scenarios when there is little to nothing to provoke it.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It is an anxiety disorder, and it is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors. Repetitive behaviors such as counting, checking, cleaning, and hand washing are often performed with the hope of limiting obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Doing these types of actions provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.

What are anxiety symptoms?

Anxiety feels different depending on the individual going through it. Feelings can range from butterflies in the stomach to a racing heart. You may feel out of control like there is a disconnect between the mind and the body.

Other ways people go through anxiety include panic attacks, nightmares, and painful thoughts or memories that are out of your hand. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may feel fear of a specific place or event.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing

What is the treatment of anxiety disorder?

After you have been diagnosed with anxiety, you can explore treatment options with the doctors. For some people, medical treatment is not necessary. Lifestyle changes may be sufficient to cope with the symptoms.

Anxiety treatment comprises a combination of behavioral, psychotherapy, therapy, and medication.

Alcohol dependence, depression, or medical conditions can sometimes substantially affect mental well-being, that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until any underlying conditions are brought under control.


A person can support anxiety management with various types of medications.

Medicine that may control some of the physical and mental symptoms include benzodiazepines, antidepressants, tricyclics, and beta-blockers.

  • Benzodiazepines

Your doctor or physician may prescribe these for people with anxiety, but they can be highly addictive. These medications tend to have few repercussions other than drowsiness and feasible dependence. Diazepam and Valium are an example of commonly prescribed benzodiazepines.

  • Antidepressants

These help with anxiety, even though they also target depression. People frequently use serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which have fewer repercussions than older antidepressants but are likely to cause nausea and sexual dysfunction when treatment begins.


In some cases, you can treat anxiety disorder at home without doctor supervision. Although, this may not be effective for severe or long-term anxiety disorder. Such as:

  • Stress Management

Learning to manage stress can assist in limiting potential triggers. Organize any upcoming deadlines and pressures, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from work or study.

  • Relaxation techniques:

Simple activities can help sedate the mental and physical anxiety symptoms. These include medication, long baths, resting in the dark, and yoga.

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