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Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

An anxiety disorder can strike at any time. In the United States today, anxiety disorders are very prevalent.

It’s estimated that approximately 40 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 54 are diagnosed with anxiety disorders at any given time.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is considered by most medical specialists to be a mental illness – it is not.

Anxiety disorder is a behavioural condition, fuelled by the anxious thoughts which it causes.

The anxiety cycle creates anxiety symptoms, these cause anxious thoughts, which causes elevated anxiety, which causes anxiety symptoms and so on – in a subconscious, self-perpetuating anxiety cycle.

The subconscious mind which controls the anxiety reaction has learned to behave at a new, higher anxiety level and it is this which, once adjusted to this new higher level, produces the symptoms, thoughts, sensations and obsessions which plague anxiety sufferers every day.

In the subconscious mind there lies an organ called the Amygdala. This organ is responsible for regulating the anxiety response. It is this organ which becomes ‘re-set’ at a new, higher, resting level of anxiety during anxiety disorders.

Types of Anxiety disorders

There are many anxiety disorders that can lead to depression, these include:

1. Panic disorder

Research shows that as many as 65% of people who suffer from a panic disorder will also suffer from major depression. There is also research that indicates that if a panic disorder is treated early enough it can stave off major depression down the road.

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Over 60% of people who have OCD also have depression.

3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People who have GAD will usually go through a minimum of one depressive event and a lot of them experience events that repeat. Typically, GAD appears in the patient before depression does.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder

Teenagers and people in their early 20s who experience social anxiety are more likely to also suffer from depression.

People who have both social anxiety and depression also have increased odds of severe depression.

5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Those who suffer from PTSD are as much as 7 times more likely to develop depression as people who do not suffer from PTSD.

6. Bipolar Disorder

People who have bipolar disorder, also called manic-depression, often experience symptoms that are similar to a panic disorder.

People who are bipolar have 26 times more panic disorders than people without bipolar disorder. Even worse, anxiety makes bipolar disorder more severe.

Based on a research study done in 2000, teens who have anxiety disorders are more likely to develop the bipolar disorder when they get older.

Teens who have manic tendencies are more likely to develop anxiety disorders in the future.

What Causes Anxiety?

People who suffer from abnormal levels of worry and fear that appear to have no basis, in reality, are often dealing with anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders are the most common cause of mental illness in the United States. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are usually easily treated, and people who get that treatment, for the most part, are relieved from their anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety disorders can take many different forms. Anxiety disorders include

  1. panic disorder,
  2. generalized anxiety
  3. disorder,
  4. phobias,
  5. obsessive-compulsive disorder,
  6. and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

There are many manifestations of anxiety within each category as well.

Why do some people get anxiety disorders?

In the past, it was relatively unknown as to why some people developed anxiety disorders while others never did.

Because of advancements in technology and significant scientific breakthroughs, experts are now able to identify certain factors that can lead to the onset of an anxiety disorder.

As they gain more knowledge about the root causes of anxiety disorders. They will be able to create more effective treatments and possibly even be able to prevent them from developing in the first place.

Possible Causes

There are four main factors that are thought to be responsible for the development of anxiety disorders. They are life experiences, heredity, personality, and brain chemistry.

1. Life Experiences

One of the main factors that professionals believe is a direct link to the development of anxiety disorders is the way in which people live.

For instance, people who are exposed to lengthy periods of time to violence, poverty, or abuse tend to be more prone to excessive anxiety.

When people live under the fear of those external factors, their natural response is to worry about if and when they will have to deal with the aftermath.

2. Heredity

Research has proven that anxiety disorders are passed down from family member to family member.

Several studies have shown that anxiety disorders are more common in identical twins than in fraternal twins.

This indicates that there is a genetic component to why some people develop anxiety disorders and other people do not.

It is believed that this genetic component could lie dormant until it is activated by life experiences.

3. Personality

Some studies result found that a person’s personality could be responsible for excess anxiety.

These studies indicate that people who suffer from a lack of confidence or do not know how to deal with unexpected or new situations appear to be more susceptible to the development of an anxiety disorder.

On the other hand, if a child suffers from an anxiety disorder, it is clear that it can lead to a lack of confidence.

This means the development process can be circular in nature, with anxiety leading to low self-esteem and low self-esteem leading to anxiety.

4. Brain Chemistry

People who suffer from anxiety disorders can often remedy their symptoms by taking prescription drugs that change the chemical make-up in the brain.

This leads scientists to believe that the chemistry in the brain is directly responsible for the development of various kinds of anxiety disorders.

What are the symptoms of Anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety disorders are two types, physical and emotional.

1. Physical Anxiety Symptoms

The physical symptoms of anxiety are assorted, to say the least, and vary dramatically between sufferers. Our genetic makeup is a strong factor in determining if and how we develop and anxiety disorder.

The anxiety symptoms that you experience could be drastically different from those experienced by other anxiety sufferers and can also vary massively in intensity and regularity.

Physical anxiety symptoms include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Shaking, sweating
  • Pins and needles
  • Hyperventilation
  • Stomach troubles
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart
  • Dry mouth
  • Lump in the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain/migraines
  • Numbness in the face, head back, etc.

Whilst anxiety symptoms can feel very threatening indeed. They are not the sign of an underlying physical illness and are, in themselves, completely harmless. They are simply an inappropriate response.

By undermining the core anxiety which fuels these symptoms, the symptoms, along with the core anxiety, will fade away completely, never to return.

2. Emotional Anxiety Symptoms

The emotional symptoms of anxiety can be as frightening as the physical ones. Anxiety produces these symptoms as a by-product of your raised anxiety level.

Emotional anxiety symptoms include:

  • Dreaminess
  • Tiredness
  • Nightmares or bad dreams
  • Depersonalization (feeling removed from oneself)
  • Derealization (feeling as if in a nightmare or dream)
  • Depressive thoughts
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, obsessive thoughts or compulsions
  • Thoughts of a sexual or violent nature. Unsuitable thoughts about
  • people you love, sometimes of a violent or sexual nature.
  • Increased violence/aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to love, inability to care for others
  • Agoraphobia, social phobia, shyness
  • Feeling like you can’t cope
  • Disinterest in life

The list goes on and on.

Anxiety symptoms change from person to person. However, all sufferers have one thing in common, that is that given the correct treatment. All of these anxiety symptoms can be reversed and eliminated permanently.

Many clients experience thoughts that they say: “they would never have thought that before they had anxiety”. These anxiety thoughts can be violent or sexual.

They can cause Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which manifests itself as constantly checking (that the gas is off, that their hands are clean, etc.). This often manifests itself as the performance of rituals.

How to Treat Anxiety?

When it comes to treating anxiety, the method that is going to be the most effective is going to be based on what is causing the anxiety.

Physical Causes

If the underlying cause of the anxiety is related to a physical condition. The way to treat the anxiety associated with that issue is to reduce or eliminate that medical issue.

As an illustration, an overactive thyroid gland can lead to anxiety. In this case, it would be beneficial to remove the thyroid or to prescribe a drug that regulates the thyroid.

Psychological Causes

If the underlying cause of the anxiety is psychological. It is necessary to understand the root cause. So it can be remedied or at least mitigated.

For instance, if the anxiety is resulting from marriage problems. It might be necessary to undergo marriage counseling. Often, if a person is experiencing anxiety due to him or her withdrawing from a drug.  He or she will undergo drug-abuse treatment at the same time.

No Known Cause

On occasion, the root cause of the anxiety is unknown. The only way to remedy the anxiety is to reduce the symptoms as much as possible.

Benzodiazepines

For many years, benzodiazepines, a class of drugs, was used to treat anxiety. Because this category of drugs can lead to addiction fairly easily, these medications are not prescribed nearly as often as they once were.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

These drugs are most commonly prescribed to people who suffer from depression. However, they have been shown to help control the symptoms of anxiety as well.

Some of the drugs in this group are Sertraline, which is more commonly known as Zoloft.

In addition, Venlafaxine also blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine in addition to serotonin.

Anxiety and alcohol

How Alcohol Affects Anxiety?

It is a common perception that the consumption of alcohol reduces the symptoms of anxiety.

However, even though alcohol might look good as an anxiety reducer. It is important to examine how alcohol affects anxiety on a long-term basis.

This article provides how alcohol impacts people who suffer from anxiety that may not be well known. It also provides you with solutions that work.

Short-Term Effects

Everyone is aware that alcohol does reduce nervousness at least slightly. For people who are dealing with stress and anxiety, alcohol can often be the first method they try to eliminate the feelings of anxiousness.

In reality, alcohol can relieve anxiety on a short-term basis. First, it works fast to numb the central nervous system which means you will feel relaxed for a bit.

Second, alcohol raises the chemical known as GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid that suppresses anxious feelings.

This is why alcohol works as an instant “anxiolytic” or anxiety reducer.

This is certainly fine if you need to lower your anxiety levels for a short time, but what happens later?

Long-Term Effects

It is important to understand the effects of regular alcohol use on stress and anxiety.

Basically, it makes it harder to deal with anxiety in the long run. There are four reasons for this conclusion.

  1. Some research has indicated that drinking alcohol over an extended period causes the GABA-benzodiazepine or GBzR receptor to not work as well in the central nervous system.
  2. This means that drinking alcohol for an extended amount of time lowers the anxiolytic properties in the brain, so you are not as able to deal with an anxiety disorder as you would be without the alcohol.
  3. The withdrawal symptoms you experience when stopping the consumption of alcohol makes the anxiety levels higher.
  4. Drinking alcohol over an extended period can trigger panic attacks and generalized anxiety. Other disorders, such as agoraphobia and social phobia, appear to develop before the use of alcohol.