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Dealing with Severe Anxiety? This is for you

What is anxiety neurosis?

Anxiety is a condition that everyone experiences at times – you may feel anxious or nervous due to workplace or home related problems, when making a crucial decision, appearing for exams, etc. Anxiety neurosis or anxiety disorder, however, differs from routine anxiety. It is a mental illness characterized by extreme worry and agitation, that is constant, occurring without an obvious cause, and affects your daily life.

Anxiety neurosis can be of many types:

  1. Generalised anxiety disorder – Excessive and uncontrollable troublesome thoughts
  2. Panic disorder – Intense, sudden fear-ridden episodes that reoccur, and are accompanied by physical symptoms like shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and dizziness
  3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Irrational fear and thoughts (obsessions) resulting in repetitive, uncontrolled actions (compulsions)
  4. Social anxiety disorder – Irrational fear and avoidance of social situations
  5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Anxiety due to vivid memories of traumatic life event in the past
  6. Specific phobia – Anxiety and irrational fear of certain objects and situations

What are the causes of the disorder?

Research findings suggest that anxiety neurosis may be caused by chronic and severe stress that can alter the balance of chemicals in the brain that control mood. Anxiety disorders may also run in families and can be passed on from one generation to next. Further, certain environmental factors, like experiencing a traumatic life event may trigger the condition in those who are genetically susceptible to it.

What you need to know about symptoms or signs?

Different forms of anxiety neurosis exhibit different symptoms, but common symptoms include:

  • Feeling of fear and panic
  • Uncontrollable uneasy thoughts
  • Repeated flashback or nightmares of a traumatic experience
  • Recurring obsessive thoughts and behaviours
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Numbness
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Dry mouth

Which specialist should you consult if you have any of the signs and symptoms?

Visit your general practitioner if you experience symptoms of anxiety. Your doctor will assess if your anxiety is related to any physical ailment or an underlying disease that can be cured with treatment. However, in case of severe anxiety a psychologist and other mental health specialists will diagnose and provide appropriate treatment.

What are the screening tests and investigations done to confirm or rule out the disorder?

Your doctor will begin by asking you questions about the symptoms being experienced by you, any causes of stress, health problems, current medications and perform a physical examination. There are no specific lab tests to diagnose anxiety neurosis, but there could be tests carried out to rule out anxiety caused by any physical illness.

What treatment modalities are available for management of the disorder?

The exact treatment method will depend on the type of anxiety neurosis you are experiencing, but the following therapies for the disorder are used, either by themselves or in combination:

Psychotherapy – Conducted in form of counselling, psychotherapy deals with the emotional responses to the disorder. A common mode of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in which you change your thought and behavioural pattern that cause the illness.

Medication – The drugs that help counter the symptoms of anxiety neurosis are anti-depressants and anxiety-reducing drugs. Discuss the benefits, risks and side effects related to the use of medicines in treatment of anxiety disorders.

In addition to the above, practising relaxation techniques and incorporating healthy, positive changes in your diet and lifestyle can prove beneficial in dealing with the disorder.

What are the known complications in management of the disorder?

Diagnosis of anxiety neurosis can be a challenge as it often occurs during other mental illnesses such as substance abuse and depression. It is crucial for your doctor to fully understand your current symptoms, and get a detailed picture of your medical history.

What precautions or steps are necessary to stay healthy and happy during the treatment?

Discuss in detail the causes and treatment plan with your health care provider and make sure you follow the treatment outlined for you. Stay consistent with your medication and doctor appointments, take support from family or join a support group to share your experience and meet other people dealing with similar condition.

What are the dietary and physical activity requirements during the course of the treatment?

Though medications and counselling are formal treatment methods to control anxiety disorders, some lifestyle changes can also make a difference. Avoid alcohol and coffee, and quit smoking as these worsen anxiety. Make conscious efforts to steer away from thoughts and situations that make you anxious – socialising and participating in hobbies and activities can help regroup your mind. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can alleviate anxious feelings.

How can you prevent the disorder from happening or recurring?

You may not have any control over preventing anxiety disorders, but you can make healthy choices in form of diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and support for past trauma.


Sources:

“Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center,” WebMD.com, http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-anxiety-disorders

“Anxiety disorders,” National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

“Anxiety disorders,” Mayoclinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/anxiety-disorders/types.html

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