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Is Anxiety A Psychiatric Disorder

Rethinking Your Expectations May Help You Cope With Stress

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One way to cope with stress is to set realistic goals at home and at work â even if that means lowering your expectations a bit. Other things that can help include accepting that some events are beyond your control, preparing well for things that you know may be stressful , trying to see change as a challenge instead of a threat, eating and drinking sensibly, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly.

Who Do They Affect

Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, and they are the most common mental health problem. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience. Anxiety disorders may be more likely to occur when we have certain ways of looking at things or learn unhelpful coping strategies from others. But sometimes there just doesnt seem to be a reason.

What Is A Panic Disorder

If you have a panic disorder, you get intense, sudden panic attacks. These attacks often feature stronger, more intense feelings than other types of anxiety disorders.

The feelings of terror may start suddenly and unexpectedly or they may come from a trigger, like facing a situation you dread. Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks. If theres any chance youre experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Its better to err on the side of caution and have a healthcare professional check you.

During a panic attack, you may experience:

  • Sweating.
  • Chest pain.
  • Feeling of choking, which can make you think youre having a heart attack or going crazy.

Panic attacks are very upsetting. People with panic disorder often spend a lot of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also try to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.

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How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:

  • Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
  • Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
  • Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
  • Is treatable.

What Are The Types Of Anxiety Disorders

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There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder .People with GAD worry about ordinary issues such as health, money, work, and family. But their worries are excessive, and they have them almost every day for at least 6 months.
  • Panic disorder. People with panic disorder have panic attacks. These are sudden, repeated periods of intense fear when there is no danger. The attacks come on quickly and can last several minutes or more.
  • Phobias. People with phobias have an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Their fear may be about spiders, flying, going to crowded places, or being in social situations .

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How Generalised Anxiety Disorder Is Treated

GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms.

These include:

With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic and distressing and that interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:

  • Panic or anxiety attacks or a fear of these attacks.
  • Physical anxiety reactions for example trembling, sweating, faintness, rapid heartbeat, difficulties breathing or nausea.
  • Avoidance behaviour a person may go to extreme lengths to avoid a situation that they think could bring on anxiety or panic.

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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

When you experience symptoms of anxiety, they can manifest as physical symptoms such as:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • insomnia

Neither stress nor anxiety is always bad. Both can provide you with a boost or incentive to accomplish the task or challenge before you. But if these feelings become persistent, they can begin to interfere with your daily life. In that case, its important to get treatment.

What Are The Signs Of Anxiety

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The signs of anxiety differ from person to person. On the psychic level, anxiety invades the whole field of thought.

A feeling of fear, worry, panic, or unease takes place. A feeling of loss of self-control predominates along with the feeling of no longer being yourself. We always fear the arrival of a catastrophe. Even when things are going well, we tell ourselves its not going to last.

Relationships with others are difficult because you feel irritable. Sleep disorders can appear , leading to fatigue and memory problems, which only increase anxiety. There may be a state of panic which paralyzes and leads to a feeling of imminent death.

In the normal process of anxiety, the body prepares to face fear. We therefore frequently find in anxiety disorder associated physical signs that can make one think of other diseases:

  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache
  • Tingling or numbness of the limbs with a feeling of weakness or tightness in the muscles
  • An exaggerated startle response
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory loss
  • A lump in the throat, difficulty swallowing
  • More frequent urination

Anxiety disorders are often associated with life events .

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What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder

This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.

Ways You Can Look After Yourself

  • Talk about how youre feeling and what’s making you anxious. Just being heard and understood may make you feel better. You could open up to a friend or call Anxiety UKs helpline.
  • Look after your physical health. Eating well, staying physically active, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol and getting enough sleep can also help you manage anxiety better.
  • Breathing exercises can help: our page on panic attacks has some suggestions. Some people find practicing mindfulness useful, but be aware it isn’t recommended for social anxiety.
  • Consider joining a peer support group. They offer a safe place to share your experiences and worries with other people who also have an anxiety disorder. Ask your GP about local groups or visit our page on peer support. Anxiety UK offers online support groups.

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Can Meditation Or Other Relaxation Techniques Help With My Anxiety

They can. They are the best option for mild anxiety that most of us experience from time to time. There are many instructional books on relaxation exercises and meditation, which is a form of relaxation. They are relatively simple to learn. These approaches can provide relief and can be used anywhere once the person understands the method. Mental health professionals can guide the person who needs a more personal approach to learning relaxation or meditation.

Symptoms And Signs Of Anxiety Disorders

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Anxiety can arise suddenly, as in panic, or gradually over many minutes, hours, or days. Anxiety may last from a few seconds to years, though a longer duration is more characteristic of anxiety disorders. Anxiety ranges from barely noticeable qualms to intense panic. The ability to tolerate a given level of anxiety varies from person to person.

Anxiety disorders can be so distressing and disruptive that depression may result. Alternatively, an anxiety disorder and a depressive disorder Depressive Disorders Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness severe enough or persistent enough to interfere with function and often by decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Exact cause is unknown… read more may coexist, or depression may develop first, with symptoms and signs of an anxiety disorder occurring later.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Specific Phobias

Symptoms of specific phobias may include:

  • Excessive or irrational fear of a specific object or situation
  • Avoiding the object or situation or enduring it with great distress
  • Physical symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack, such as a pounding heart, nausea or diarrhea, sweating, trembling or shaking, numbness or tingling, problems with breathing , feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feeling like you are choking
  • Anticipatory anxiety, which involves becoming nervous ahead of time about being in certain situations or coming into contact with the object of your phobia for example, a person with a fear of dogs may become anxious about going for a walk because they may see a dog along the way.

Children with a specific phobia may express their anxiety by crying, clinging to a parent, or throwing a tantrum.

Do You Need More Help

Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.

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Panic Attacks Are A Common Symptom

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in certain situations or for no apparent reason. A panic attack does not mean a person is necessarily suffering an anxiety disorder. However, a panic attack is a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • choking
  • nausea.

The cause of panic attacks is unknown, but they may be related to a chemical response in the brain, caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes in the body, such as shallow breathing and rapid heartbeat.

Panic attacks can be frightening. Some people say they feel like they are going to die or go crazy. People affected by panic attacks may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the development of other anxiety disorders including agoraphobia.

How Is Panic Disorder Treated

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Your doctor may refer you to a specialist called a psychotherapist. They might recommend:

  • A type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy that helps you learn how to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that bring on panic attacks
  • Antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • Benzodiazepines, which are sedatives that affect your central nervous system
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Cutting back on caffeine

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Not All Anxiety Is A Disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety and fear at times these are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational anxiety and worries that become ongoing and distressing, and that interfere with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no obvious or logical reason for the way the person feels. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the sufferer.

Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety refers to feelings of nervousness, fear, or worry. Most people will feel anxious before a job interview, when taking a test, or on their first day at a new job or school.

Anxiety disorders involve excessive fear, anxiety, or worries that interfere with your well-being and ability to function. For example, recurring anxious thoughts and behaviors can have a big impact on your work life, school life, hobbies, or relationships.

Anxiety disorders are defined by the situations or objects that cause your anxiety. Some anxiety disorders have different symptoms and types of negative thoughts associated with them.

Types of anxiety disorders include:

Other mental health conditions may feature anxiety symptoms, though theyre not labeled as a type of anxiety disorder under the DSM-5:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder . PTSD can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. The symptoms typically develop within 3 months of the trauma, but sometimes they dont arise until years later.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder . OCD involves recurring, uncontrollable thoughts or behaviors. The obsessions or compulsions linked with OCD can create intense anxiety.

Specific phobias are the most common anxiety disorders in the United States. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that specific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S. population.

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What Happens If I Dont Get Treatment For My Child With An Anxiety Disorder

Getting your child help for an anxiety disorder can improve their development and self-esteem. But untreated anxiety disorders can harm:

  • Family relationships.
  • School performance.
  • Social functioning.

Your child may also end up with more serious mental and physical health problems. Fortunately, there are several treatments for anxiety disorders. The right treatment can help your child manage their symptoms and feel their best.

Is Anxiety A Mental Illness

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Picture yourself walking out of your bedroom at night to get a drink of water. The house is dark and quiet. Youre sure that you are the only one awake at the time. As you get closer to the kitchen, you suddenly hear what sounds like a footstep behind you. You react immediately you shout, jump, or freeze when you hear the noise.

When your body senses that you are in danger, it sends a message to your brain, triggering a fight-or-flight response. Imagine experiencing a constant sense of fear every day. That is what anxiety is. One of the most popular questions asked about anxiety is whether or not it is a mental health illness. Its essential to understand what anxiety is to cope with it positively.

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Anxiety Disorders Can Have Serious Effects

An anxiety disorder may lead to social isolation and clinical depression, and can impair a persons ability to work, study and do routine activities. It may also hurt relationships with friends, family and colleagues. Its common for depression and anxiety to happen at the same time. Depression can be a serious illness with a high risk of self-harm and suicide.

Causes & Risk Factors

Like most mental health problems, anxiety disorders appear to be caused by a combination of biological factors, psychological factors and challenging life experiences, including:

  • stressful or traumatic life event
  • family history of anxiety disorders
  • childhood development issues
  • alcohol, medications or illegal substances
  • other medical or psychiatric problems.

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How Common Are Specific Phobias

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about 5%-12% of Americans have phobias. Specific phobias affect an estimated 6.3 million adult Americans.

Phobias usually first appear in adolescence and adulthood, but can occur in people of all ages. They are slightly more common in women than in men. Specific phobias in children are common and usually disappear over time. Specific phobias in adults generally start suddenly and are more lasting than childhood phobias. Only about 20% of specific phobias in adults go away on their own .

The Primary Care Practitioner Role

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Anxiety symptoms are extremely common. In the primary care setting, a major task is to determine whether the symptoms are a reaction to a distressing situation, indications of an anxiety or other psychiatric disorder such as depression, or signs of a non-psychiatric condition.

What Is Reasonable to Expect of a Primary Care Practitioner?

  • Screen for and establish the specific anxiety disorder diagnosis.
  • Develop a treatment plan.
  • Be familiar with antidepressants and anxiolytics, as well as psychotropic agents used mainly to augment antidepressants .
  • Provide psychoeducation and help patients make an informed treatment choice about medications and psychotherapy.
  • Discuss self-help options with patients and support them in using these resources.
  • Monitor the patients response to treatment

When to Refer to a Specialist

  • Following an attempt to treat the patient or earlier if the patient is severely affected by the anxiety disorder
  • When an anxious young adult is too fearful to attend school or socialize
  • When a patient cannot get to work or maintain usual activities of daily living
  • When a patient has multiple comorbid mental disorders
  • When a patient is being prescribed multiple psychiatric medications
  • When a patient is using recreational substances, or over-the-counter medications to alleviate anxiety

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Age Distribution For Anxiety Disorders

Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood . Separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder that commonly begins in childhood and often includes anxiety related to going to school. This disorder may be a precursor for adult anxiety disorders, most commonly panic disorder. According to the DSM-5, separation anxiety disorder can begin in adulthood.

Panic disorder demonstrates a bimodal age of onset in the NCS study in the age groups of 15-24 years and 45-54 years. The age of onset for OCD appears to be in the mid 20s to early 30s.

Most social phobias begin before age 20 years .

Agoraphobia usually begins in late adolescence to early adulthood .

In general, specific phobia appears earlier than social phobia or agoraphobia. The age of onset depends on the particular phobia. For example, animal phobia is most common at the elementary school level and appears at a mean age of 7 years blood phobia appears at a mean age of 9 years dental phobia appears at a mean age of 12 years and claustrophobia appears at a mean age of 20 years. Most simple phobias develop during childhood . and eventually disappear. Those that persist into adulthood rarely go away without treatment.

New-onset anxiety symptoms in older adults should prompt a search for an unrecognized general medical condition, a substance abuse disorder, or major depression with secondary anxiety symptoms.

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