What is Anxiety?

Everyone goes through some amount of anxiety throughout their lives. It could be because of a final exam, a new job, a move to a new city or your child’s whereabouts. This is completely normal, and occasionally anxiety can also prove to be useful. It can help us perform better and react sooner in stressful, anxiety-ridden situations. However, if the feeling of anxiety does not pass after the stressful situation has, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that could be as serious as any physical ailment such as heart issues or diabetes. Anxiety refers to multiple mental and physiological phenomena, including a person's conscious and continuous state of worry over a future unwanted event, or fear of an actual situation. It is characterized by feelings of tension, worrisome thoughts and physical changes such as increased blood pressure. If you feel intensely anxious regularly, and it interferes with your everyday activities, you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders often involve periods of intense fear or terror which leads to panic attacks, disproportional to the actual danger.

All anxiety disorders share some general symptoms such as:

  • General worry, panic and uneasiness
  • Pounding heart
  • Restless sleep
  • Sweaty, numb and tingling palms and feet
  • Tense muscles
  • Trembling
  • Hot or cold flushes
  • Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything else

Even though anxiety disorders have certain symptomatic similarities, there are a variety of them with individual diagnostic symptoms. They include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), social anxiety, phobias and many more. Any anxiety disorder left untreated can lead to physical conditions such as heart disease, stomach issues, body pain and additional mental illnesses such as depression. For instance, many times depression and anxiety go hand in hand.

Anxiety is treatable and there are various highly effective treatments including counselling,  relaxation therapies, meditation and mindfulness. A psychiatrist may also prescribe medication, which in addition to therapy can be highly effective. Treatment, however, depends on the type of disorder you are experiencing and therefore it is advisable to seek professional help. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety please contact a mental health professional. 

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