Being nervous before any important event is normal. Be it your exams or an interview. Such ocassional fear is okay. However, feeling constant fear and chills needs a proper diagnosis. Neglecting work, school, get-togethers, social events, etc regularly, is a sign that you need help. While anxiety is often related to worry or fear, there are many subcategories to anxiety. Each one has a different set of causes and fear. High functioning anxiety can often be misinterpreted as productivity. Unlike others, this anxiety makes you push yourself forward. However, what you see outside is not what a person feels inside. Dealing with an anxiety disorder is only possible when you know enough about it. Today we will scratch the surface and know more about it.
Reason behind Anxiety
While anxiety has a major genetic component, there are other reasons to add on. As per research, the brain chemistry of anxious minds is different than ordinary ones. A major factor is also the surroundings where you grow up. Children in stressful houses often tend to become anxious adults. Abusive households also include neglecting kids, seeing violence or occasional fights, etc. Loss of closed ones can also impact your mind. However, that is not it. Diseases like epilepsy, heart disease, thyroid problems, etc also induce anxiety symptoms. Usually, it creates unexplained fear in patients. This can trigger panic attacks often affecting personal life. Drug use can also trigger anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder can be classified into many subcategories. However, some important and common types are
Social Anxiety Disorder:
Have you ever felt self-conscious while going to a party or club? Do you ever think of how others might think of you? It can be how you dress or how you speak or how you introduce yourself. While it is common to be a worried but extreme fear of social interaction is a social anxiety disorder. The symptoms include tremor, shaking, sweating, difficulty in speaking, etc. One of the major reasons for such phobia is bullying, abuse and family fights. Serotonin imbalance is the key reason behind this disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Do you ever feel worried without any reasons? Feeling low with no excuse? This is called generalized anxiety. Overthinking about future plans even when you have planned it already. These unrealistic thoughts often interfere with your day to day work. It can also impact your relationship with family and loved ones. Some symptoms include muscle tension, numbness, tremor, upset stomach, etc.
“OCD” word is very popular on social media to use when someone nags about little details. However, actual OCD is way more complex than that. It is due to a communication gap between the front part of the brain with deeper parts of the brain. This creates a pattern of intrusive thoughts. Some thoughts can be very distressing and can disrupt daily life. It is difficult to focus when you are doing some important tasks like working or sleeping. Some symptoms include agitation, compulsive behaviour, hypervigilance, etc.
Unfortunately, it is more common in women than in me particularly, young adults. The panic can stem from any situation that makes you scared. Be it a minor accident or being yelled by someone. Specific phobias can also trigger panic attacks. Fear of heights closed spaces, etc can trigger panic attacks. The amygdala in the brain is hyperactive in this disorder. Symptoms include feeling restless, racing heartbeat, heavy breathing, dizziness, numbness, etc. These symptoms often last about twenty minutes or more.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is usually related to soldiers or law enforcement. However, the list is not limited to them. It can also happen to someone who lost a loved one or suffered abuse. The part of the brain that deals with stress, amygdala and prefrontal cortex, is more active in PTSD patients. Symptoms include paranoia, disturbing nightmares, flashbacks etc. This can often lead to self-destructive behaviour and trouble sleeping. The PTSD in children below the age of six often re-create the events or suffer from unexplained nightmares. If goes undiagnosed, triggers can increase with time.
Treatment and Aftercare
The best option for treating anxiety disorder is consulting a doctor. As we explained, it can stem from various reasons, each treatment is different. While most of them can be treated by medicines, some people require extra care. Counselling using Cognitive behaviour therapy helps to great extend. While these are the best techniques, it is good to take professional advice.
There are some ways to reduce when you feel anxious. Always stick to your treatment plans. Sometimes you can feel the plan not working for you. Instead of stopping the plan, ask your doctor or therapist for help. Observe your triggers and patterns. From a small comment to any incident, your anxiety can be triggered. It is important to understand that whatever you think about yourself, is due to your anxiety.
Engage in healthy distraction during a panic attack. Instead of eating your feelings or drinking away your sorrows, go for a walk. You can also keep a journal and record your feeling. This is especially useful in case of therapy. A therapist can easily trace the triggers and help you understand it. You can also join a support group and talk about your fears. For more information, you can visit the Anxiety hotline service.
Challenges and Stigma
One of the challenges is the need for perfection. With low self-esteem, people with anxiety tend to overdo it. While it makes work efficient, these goals are short-lived. This creates a very harsh impact on their mind. Also, they fear direct confrontation. This creates a burden which creates an advantage for people to use. They often bottle up their feeling and frustrations. This can explode and result in an anxiety episode.
Unlike depression, anxiety is treated more like a common problem than a mental illness. It is even more difficult when it is not high functioning. A popular stigma is not considering anxiety as an actual mental illness. Unfortunately, people cannot ‘snap-out’ of how they feel. Some cases, patients require proper medication. These stigmas reduce the connection between psychologist and patients. Fortunately, with mental awareness campaigns, people know much about anxiety and its treatment.
How to be an Ally?
If you want to help your friends, you can do a lot of things. Firstly, being a good listener is important. Listen to their fears and assure them of your support. Never disregard their fears no matter how silly it seems. A person with an excellent career can fear of failing. While it may seem irrational from your perspective, it is very real to them. Also, keep them in a safe space. Express your concerns and show your support. Talking to loved ones helps in regulating the mood.
Anxiety disorder often makes you feel unworthy and under-appreciated. It is important to understand that what you feel about yourself is not real. While it will take some time, it is important to continue with your journey. With time, the treatment will improve your self-esteem and make you feel happy.