Anxiety Disorders

In day today’s life anxiety to some extent is normal. Usually, people worry about their health, wealth, job, family, and so on. When the anxiety becomes severe associated with physical disturbances starts interfering with daily activities. It makes it difficult for a person to get through the day. Anxiety disorder interferes with a person’s ability to function and the patient overreacts to situations and can’t control the responses to the situations. It is more commonly seen in the age group less than 30 and more common in women. It occurs in nearly about 30% he adults at some point.

A person with anxiety can present with panic attacks, feeling of nervousness, sweating, and an increased heart rate. Various factors play role in anxiety disorders. Anxiety can be hereditary and can occur when the person is under constant stress over a longer period or in people who have experienced trauma which may precipitate the anxiety.

Anxiety disorder is mainly of 5 types, can be generalized or can be a panic disorder where a person gets intense sudden panic attacks, it can be phobia where intense fear for certain situations or objects present or can be separation anxiety which happens in a child or teens who worry about being away from their parents. Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder also come in this.

Anxiety Disorders: Causes

The main causes for anxiety disorder are not fully understood. Some of the factors which can induce anxiety disorder include the following −

  • Constant stress either because of family problems, being jobless, or constant stress at the workplace

  • Health issues − People having chronic disorders like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other severe systemic disorders

Anxiety Disorders: Symptoms

The most common symptoms of anxiety disorders include −

  • Sensitivity to noise

  • Dry mouth

  • Cold or sweaty hands

  • Feeling of nervousness or fear

  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Restlessness, inability to stay calm, tremors

  • Stomach upset

  • Headache

  • Inability to sleep

  • Constriction in the chest

  • Poor concentration

  • Feeling tired or weak

  • Repeated thoughts of traumatic experiences

  • Uncontrollable obsessive thoughts

Anxiety Disorders: Risk Factors

The risk factors for anxiety disorder include −

  • Certain personality types such as people who have behavioral inhibition where they avoid unfamiliar things, situations, and environment

  • People who have experienced severe trauma during childhood or adulthood

  • History of anxiety disorders in the family

  • Drug abuse or withdrawal

  • People having chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and severe systemic diseases

Anxiety Disorders: Diagnosis

The anxiety disorder-related problems interfere with the ability to enjoy life and perform any activities, it does not improve even after logical explanations to address the worries have been done

There are 5 main types of anxiety disorder. Each one of them is diagnosed as follows −

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder − It is diagnosed when individual experiences unrealistic or excessive anxiety or worry for a period of at least 6 months, and is not capable of controlling the anxiety along with the above-mentioned symptoms

  • Panic Disorder − In this the individual experiences a repeated unexpected panic attack usually peaks in 10mins which lasts no longer than 30mins. These attacks are followed by 1 month of one or more persistent concerns about future attacks

  • Phobias − In this the people have a specific phobia to certain specific objects or situations like a social phobia is a fear of social situations, agoraphobia fear of crowded places.

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder − In this, the symptoms occur usually within 3 months of the traumatic incident and the patient presents with nightmares, negative thinking, unwanted distressing memories of the incident.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder − In this, the individual has obsessive thoughts and impulsive behaviors that impair routine activities. The individual has a fear of contamination of the hands even after frequent hand washes

Anxiety Disorders: Treatment

The mainstay treatment of the anxiety disorder includes

  • Psychological Education − short-term counseling, stress management, psychotherapy, meditation and exercise, avoiding alcohol and smoking, relaxation techniques, and a healthy diet.

  • Psychological Therapy − the most supporting evidence in anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy in which the individual is thought different ways of thinking, behavior, and reacting to the situations.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy − these strategies are made to reduce discomfort and anxiety.

  • Pharmacological Treatment − treatment with drugs can help the individual to reduce the symptoms by causing the changes in the brain to release certain chemicals which control the mood. They take several weeks to work. Certain antidepressants and antianxiety medications are used. The 1st line of drugs used in anxiety disorders is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Other medicines such as benzodiazepines and beta blockers are also used to reduce anxiety. These drugs are used for short term.

Anxiety Disorders: Prevention

Prevention of anxiety disorder is usually not possible but some of the steps can control the symptoms −

  • Learn to manage the stress, meditation, exercise, and relaxation activities can make the individual worry less

  • Regular healthy balanced diet

  • Proper sleep

  • Limit alcohol, smoking, and caffeine

  • Assistance, seek help when the individual has experienced a traumatic event

  • Mental Support from family, friends, and community


The number of individuals having anxiety disorder has increased drastically in recent times. Anxiety disorders are often not diagnosed and not treated. Anxiety disorder makes it difficult for an individual to go through a day and interferes with routine activities.

Anxiety disorders can be effectively managed. Treating the individual at the right time improves the quality of life, relationships, and productivity. It also supports overall well-being.

If the individual is under constant stress or fear should visit the healthcare provider do not hesitate to consult the doctor. It is better to be diagnosed and treated at the earliest. Constant support from the surrounding people and a combination of psychotherapy and medications limit the problems of anxiety disorder.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 27-Jan-2023


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