How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders
Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.
The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.
Criteria For Diagnosing Gad
When assessing for GAD, clinical professionals are looking for the following:
- Edginess or restlessness
- Tiring easily more fatigued than usual
- Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank
- Increased muscle aches or soreness
- Difficulty sleeping
Excessive worry means worrying even when there is no specific threat present or in a manner that is disproportionate to the actual risk. Someone struggling with GAD experiences a high percentage of their waking hours worrying about something. The worry may be accompanied by reassurance-seeking from others.
In adults, the worry can be about job responsibilities or performance, ones own health or the health of family members, financial matters, and other everyday, typical life circumstances. In children, the worry is more likely to be about their abilities or the quality of their performance . Many people with GAD also experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea, or diarrhea.
Causes Of Anxiety Disorder
Some causes of anxiety disorders are:
- Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Brain chemistry. Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.
- Environmental stress. This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse. Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
- Medical conditions. Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. Itâs important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.
Also Check: What Are The Best Vitamins For Stress And Anxiety
What Are The Symptoms Of Gad
All of us are born with the instinctive fight or flight response that helped our ancestors escape predators and other threats. When we are afraid, concerned or stressed, the part of our brain responsible for the fight or flight response will generate the nervous, fearful sensation we call anxiety. While everyone experiences anxiety at times, children with anxiety disorders contend with excessive worrying that does not subside the way normal anxiety does.
Children with generalized anxiety disorder experience excessive and uncontrollable worry about a number of events or activities. They feel anxious in multiple settings and are often unable to put their worries aside no matter how hard they try.
Examples of common worries experienced by children with GAD include:
- future events
- past behaviors and incidents
- social acceptance
- family matters
- personal abilities
- perceived personal shortcomings
- school performance
Children with GAD often worry about the same subjects as children who do not have an anxiety disorder. The difference is that for a child with GAD, there is no on-off switch for the worry: it is ever-present and so extreme that it interferes with the childs ability to relax, concentrate and enjoy activities.
Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can vary. They may include:
Physical signs and symptoms may include:
- muscle tension or muscle aches
Trouble Falling Or Staying Asleep
Sleep disturbances have a strong association with anxiety disorders.
People with an anxiety disorder may find themselves waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling asleep.
Some studies suggest that people with insomnia are 10 to 17 times more likely to develop further mental health conditions such as anxiety.
While insomnia and anxiety are strongly linked, its unclear whether insomnia leads to anxiety, anxiety leads to insomnia, or both.
What is known is that if a person treats their underlying anxiety disorder, insomnia often improves as well.
Panic disorder is another type of anxiety disorder in which a person may experience recurring panic attacks.
Panic attacks produce an intense, overwhelming sensation of fear that can be debilitating.
During a panic attack, a person may also experience:
- rapid heartbeat
- chest tightness
Panic attacks can happen as isolated occurrences, but they may be a sign of panic disorder if they occur frequently and unexpectedly.
You may be showing signs of social anxiety disorder if you find yourself:
- feeling anxious or fearful about upcoming social situations
- worried you may be judged or scrutinized by others
- fearful of being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others
- avoiding certain social events because of these fears
Social anxiety disorder is very common, affecting 5 to 10 percent of people worldwide.
Recommended Reading: Who To See For Social Anxiety
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.
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.
You May Like: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
When To Talk With A Doctor Or Seek Help
Unlike other anxiety disorders, people with GAD dont often feel too restricted in social settings or while working. They dont usually avoid certain situations as a result of the condition.
However, sometimes the symptoms you experience may be severe enough to affect areas of your life, including your social life, work, and relationships.
If this is the case for you, theres no reason to feel shame or extra anxiety. There are many treatment options including traditional therapies, home remedies, and lifestyle changes that can help you find relief.
If your daily anxiety symptoms have worsened, or theyre entirely new to you, reach out to a healthcare provider about what youre experiencing.
Theyll likely ask you about your health history and do an exam to make sure your symptoms arent due to unrelated physical conditions. They may then refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatric or psychologist .
Psychotherapy and certain anti-anxiety medications are generally recommended as the first-line treatments for GAD.
You may also want to try other complementary and alternative treatments, either combined with traditional therapies, or if traditional therapies arent accessible to you.
Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorder
Some things also make you more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors you canât change, but others you can.
Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of mental health disorder. Having another mental health disorder, like depression, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Childhood sexual abuse. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.
- Trauma. Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder , which can cause panic attacks.
- Negative life events. Stressful or negative life events, like losing a parent in early childhood, increase your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Severe illness or chronic health condition. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
- Substance abuse. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs makes you more likely to get an anxiety disorder. Some people also use these substances to hide or ease anxiety symptoms.
- Being shy as a child. Shyness and withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places during childhood is linked to social anxiety in teens and adults.
- Low self-esteem. Negative perceptions about yourself may lead to social anxiety disorder.
Recommended Reading: How To Know If You Have Stress Or Anxiety
Effects Of Anxiety On Your Mind
These can include:
- feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
- having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst
- feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
- feeling like other people can see you’re anxious and are looking at you
- feeling like you can’t stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying
- worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen
- wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you
- worrying that you’re losing touch with reality
- low mood and depression
- rumination thinking a lot about bad experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again
- depersonalisation a type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from your mind or body, or like you are a character that you are watching in a film
- derealisation another type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn’t real
- worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future you can read more about these sorts of worries on the Anxiety UK website.
“I could feel all these physical symptoms building inside me, literally filling every part of my body until I felt completely light-headed and disembodied.”
Anxiety and physical health problems
Having a physical illness or disability can also make you feel stressed and anxious, so it might sometimes feel like your anxiety problems and physical health problems are part of a vicious circle.
How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
You May Like: How To Know You Have Social Anxiety
What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. They usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes theres an obvious triggergetting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to givebut in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.
Anxiety attacks usually peak within 10 minutes, and they rarely last more than 30 minutes. But during that short time, you may experience terror so severe that you feel as if youre about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms are themselves so frightening that many people think theyre having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, you may worry about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isnt available or you cant easily escape.
The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
Don’t Miss: Is Depression And Anxiety A Mental Illness
Information For Carers Friends And Relatives
If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.
How can I get support?
You can do the following.
- Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
- Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
- Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
- Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
- Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.
What is a carers assessment?A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.
How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.
How can I support the person I care for?
You can do the following.
- Read information about anxiety disorders.
- Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
- Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
- Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
- Help them to manage their finances.
You can find out more about:
How Lifting The Lockdown Is Triggering Anxiety And Stress In Many
Though the exact reasons are not yet known, few factors put a person at a higher risk of suffering from anxiety.
Genetics or the surrounding environment.
A shy person who avoids meeting new people, avoids social interaction and get together are at a higher risk of suffering from anxiety disorder.
A person with family history of anxiety disorders.
Any traumatic experience at an early age
A person who worries a lot, experiences stress without a specific reason
According to the research, women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and mental health problems due to the hormonal disbalance during periods may be the underlying reason.
You May Like: How To Calm Body Anxiety