Anxiety Disorders: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Diagnosis

Anxiety is a natural adaptive mechanism that allows us to be alert to committed events. A certain degree of anxiety provides an adequate precautionary component in, especially dangerous situations. Moderate anxiety can help us stay focused and face the challenges that lie ahead.

Sometimes, however, the anxiety response system is overwhelmed and malfunctions. More specifically, anxiety is disproportionate to the situation and sometimes even occurs in the absence of any obvious danger.

The subject feels paralyzed with a feeling of helplessness. In general, a deterioration of psychosocial and physiological functioning occurs. It is said that when anxiety occurs at inappropriate times.

And it is so intense and long-lasting that it interferes with a person’s normal activities. Then it is considered a disorder.

Causes of Anxiety

1. Genetic causes

Anxiety can be inherited through genes. However, even someone who is not naturally anxious can experience this feeling of fear in a stressful situation, as the Spanish Psychiatric Society (SEP) notes.

2. Circumstantial causes

traumatic events such as a traffic accident, an attack or a fire can cause anxiety. In these cases, the feeling of anxiety may disappear when the problem is over or remain for months or years. It is what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

3. Drug use:

Drug is another cause of anxiety. For some people, caffeine or theine can also produce it.

4. Significant life experiences:

without being traumatic, life changes in the present such as a pregnancy, or even alterations in the workplace (a layoff, promotion, etc.) can produce anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself emotionally and physically. It is important to recognize both types of manifestations. To see a doctor as soon as they are detected.

Since a person with anxiety who experiences these symptoms may consider them as signs of a serious illness and, consequently, worsen the disease.

1. Mental Symptoms

  • constant worry
  • tiredness
  • irritability
  • trouble concentrating
  • falling asleep.

2. Physical Symptoms

  • high heart rate
  • excessive sweating
  • muscle tension
  • tremors
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • indigestion
  • diarrhea,
  • deep breathing

Prevention OF Anxiety

Anxiety is a common feeling of nervousness in threatening or difficult conditions. According to the Spanish Psychiatric Society, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer some episodes of anxiety at some point in their life.

Anxiety by itself is not bad, as it alerts us and motivates us to face dangers. It becomes a problem when anxiety episodes are frequent, intense and appears for no apparent reason, limiting the person in his day to day.

To prevent anxiety, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle and avoid the consumption of drugs and substances that cause it (caffeine, theine, and drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamines or LSD).

Practicing physical exercise regularly, especially outdoors. It also helps clear the mind and avoid the anxious feelings.

Similarly, relaxation techniques help combat the onset of the crisis. They can be learned from professionals or self-taught, through books and self-help audiovisual material.

Types Of Anxiety

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It is a chronic tension even when nothing seems to cause it. This excessive worry or nervousness is almost daily and is diagnosed as such when it lasts for at least six months.

2. Panic disorder (or panic attack)

The patient experiences recurring panic attacks that arise spontaneously. It is acute and extreme anxiety in which it is frequent that the person who suffers from it believes that they are going to die.

These sudden attacks of intense fear have no direct cause. Sometimes patients suffering from this disorder develop anxiety to experience the next attack. The occurrence of which they cannot foresee is the so-called anticipatory anxiety.

3. Phobic Disorder

A disorder whose essential feature is the presence of an irrational and persistent fear of a specific object, activity or situation, with the consequent avoidance of the feared object.

For example, the fear of flying, birds or open spaces.

4. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

These are non-voluntary thoughts or actions that the patient cannot stop thinking or doing in order not to generate anxiety.

In any case, the subject recognizes the absurd nature of his thoughts or actions. For example: wash your hands every so often.

5. Post-traumatic stress disorder

It occurs in those cases in which there are unpleasant psychological consequences after the impact of emotional trauma, war, rape, etc. It is characterized by persistent memories of the traumatic event.

PTSD is an emotional state with exalted vigilance. And it is a general reduction in interest in everyday events.

Diagnosis Of  Anxiety

Diagnostic criteria:
To assess whether a certain patient suffers from anxiety. It is advisable to rule out the existence of systemic disease. For this, the doctor must take into account the following aspects:

  • Physical symptoms that anxiety presents.
  • Previous medical and psychological history of the patient and his family.
  • Probability of unpleasantness from an illness that generates anxiety disorder.
  • Influence of toxins such as caffeine, cannabis or cocaine and other synthetic drugs, triggers of anxiety and anxiety crises in people with the predisposition.
Semi-structured interview

The clinical interview is the instrument par excellence to establish a diagnosis of anxiety disorders and reach a global understanding of the patient. It must collect the necessary information to guide the diagnosis and is usually structured in four phases:

1. Preliminary phase: the objective is to know the reason for the consultation.

2. Exploratory phase: the patient is asked about the following:

  • Symptoms, location, intensity, chronology, and evolution.
  • Presence of organic pathologies.
  • Direct triggers, such as life changes, grief, traumatic events, etc.
  • Personal history: manic episodes, previous depressions, etc.
  • Exploration of the psychosocial sphere: beliefs and expectations, thought, affectivity and the socio-family environment, personality.

3. Resolution phase: the problems are summarized, the patient is informed of the nature of the problem and his involvement is requested in the elaboration of a diagnostic-therapeutic plan.

4. Final phase: the doctor offers the patient a series of recommendations that he must begin to put into practice until the next appointment.