Whether it is fear of spiders or crowds, an anxiety disorder can be very stressful. The best way to overcome fear is not to curb it but to face it. An appropriate therapy can often be used to manage an anxiety disorder. But what is an anxiety disorder and what are its symptoms? Let’s understand.
Everyone knows the feeling of fear, and no one is fearless. Fear always saves our lives when we look to the right and left on the street, buckle up in our cars, hold on to the railing on a steep path, swallow antibiotics in the event of pneumonia, staying inside the house in a storm or lock the front door at night. Without always being aware of it, fear leads us through the dangers of life.
In some people, however, fear is exaggerated and causes anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses alongside depression.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Patients with an anxiety disorder display strong anxiety reactions for no particular reason. Those affected cannot control the exaggerated fear at all. An outdated term for anxiety disorder is anxiety neurosis.
It is called an anxiety disorder only when fear is inappropriately intense and disproportionate to the situation. For example, many people feel discomfort or disgust when they see a spider but only a fraction of them have a spider phobia in reality. Others, on the other hand, are reluctant to give a speech, but this does not mean that they suffer from an anxiety disorder that requires treatment.
Forms of anxiety disorders
Phobics are very afraid of certain situations and objects, even though they know that this fear is unfounded. Phobias are divided into:
Agoraphobics avoid certain places or situations such as public places, crowds or travel. People with agoraphobia are afraid that they will not be able to escape during a panic or they will be afraid of getting no help in an emergency.
– Social phobia
People with social phobia are exaggeratedly afraid of social situations like meeting strangers, being the centre of attention.
– Specific phobias
It includes fears of particular objects or situations such as spiders, dogs, blood, flying or closed rooms (claustrophobia).
2. Panic disorder
Panic disorders are characterized by sudden panic attacks with a strong feeling of fear and physical reactions such as sweating, heart palpitations or dizziness associated.
3. Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder focuses on undetermined fears and feelings of tension. The fears can relate to everyday life situations.
There are also mixed forms that cannot be accurately assigned to one or the other form.
How common are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses. According to estimates, approximately 300 million people across the world have an anxiety disorder. Women are diagnosed much more often than men.
The phobias like fear of heights, claustrophobia and animal phobias are the most widespread, but rarely have to be treated psychiatrically. On the other hand, the panic disorder occurs less often but mostly requires treatment.
What causes an anxiety disorder?
Scientists believe that many different factors work together to increase the likelihood of an anxiety disorder.
1. Psycho-social factors
Traumatic events in childhood, but also in the current life situation, can promote an anxiety disorder. These include, for example, the death of a parent, divorce, sexual abuse, life-threatening illness or the loss of a job.
2. Unfavourable parenting style
Certain parenting styles may play a role in the development of some anxiety disorders, such as in the form of over-protection or neglect.
3. Neuro-Biological aspects
In people with an anxiety disorder, some brain regions have unique features. The almond kernel is a central switching point in the brain. It determines whether external stimuli pose a danger or a benefit to the body and even takes on chronic ones.
4. Genetic factors
Anxiety disorders are common in some families. Scientists assume that genetic influences are involved in the development of an anxiety disorder.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorder
The earlier people with an anxiety disorder receive adequate treatment, the higher the chance of recovery. An anxiety disorder can be treated well in most cases.
Psychotherapy is particularly suitable for treating anxiety disorders. The treatment depends on anxiety disorder and how pronounced it is along with the patient’s wishes and preferences. How a person evaluates something depends on their experiences in the past. Certain events or experiences can lead to a person developing erroneous or unfavourable beliefs. Cognitive behavioural therapy, in particular, is effective in treating anxiety disorders.
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Drugs can also be used to treat anxiety disorder. Most of them are antidepressants. It is essential to know that it takes at least two weeks for antidepressants to take full effect.
Relaxation techniques like Yoga and music therapy also help, but an anxiety disorder cannot be cured with relaxation and exercise alone. However, they can significantly curb the symptoms and support the treatment.