We do not dispute the fact that it is normal occasionally in life to experience anxiety or fear, however it becomes a disorder when it becomes frequent, intense and affect the everyday life of an individual, it is then referred to as ‘Anxiety Disorder.’
Anxiety disorder is a medical condition characterized by significant feeling of anxiety or fear and it interferes with daily activities. It is a mental disorder because it brings about an alteration(change) in the personality of an individual.
Anxiety disorder can be associated with depression(despresive personality disorder) According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety. The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide with specific phobia, major depressive disorder and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorder can be classified into different categories;
Generalized Anxiety disorder(GAD): Gad is a long lasting anxiety disorder that is not generalized or focuses in one specific subject. In gad, an individual might display anxiety on two or more subjects. They experience non specific worry about different issues and is accompanied by chronic(long lasting) excessive worries, disturbance in sleep pattern, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension and is most commonly found in adults. Gad can be confirmed when an individual has been worried about an everyday subject for six months and above.
Society Anxiety Disorder(SAD): This is the intense fear or avoidance of negative public, humiliation, embarrassment, e.t.c This can be specific to certain social function like public speaking or generally for all public interaction. Such a person prefer to be in isolation in public
Specific Phobia: As it name suggests, this is an anxiety disorder in which the individual express excess worry over a particular subject for a long period of time. Like an allergy, the individual fear having an encounter with his/her object of fear when it has no health hazard or physical injury on them. They understand it has no potential damage on them, but they are still afraid by the thought of it and contact with it may cause shortness of breath or rapid breathing.
Panic Disorder: An individual has brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and/or difficulty breathing . These panic attacks , defined by the American Psychiatric Association(APA) as fear or discomfort that abruptly arises and peaks in less than ten minutes, can last for several hours. Attack can be triggered by stress, irrational thought or general fear of the unknown. Agoraphobia which is linked to it is the anxiety about being in a place where help or am escape route is difficult to find and this in return stimulate panic disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD): Although no longer classified under Anxiety disorser, PTSD is the aftermath of a trauma, it is the intense fear created as a result of a trauma or abuse which an individual experienced.
Separation Anxiety Disorder(SepAD): This is the intense fear or anxiety associated with being separated from a person or a place. While it is normal to have a separation anxiety(especially in babies and children) it becomes a disorder when it is excessive and difficult to control.
Situational Anxiety: This is an intense and long lasting fear caused by certain situations or events and while such situations or events might not cause fear in other individuals, some might feel totally uncomfortable in it.
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder(OCD): Like PTSD, OCD is no longer categorized under anxiety disorder, but it is a condition where the individual has the obsession(persistent thought) and compulsion(urge) to repeatedly carry out an act or rituals that are not caused by drugs or physical order and it causes distress or social dysfunction with the individual having the intense fear of harm befalling them if they fail to carry out the act.
Certain medical conditions (heart disease, diabetics melitus, tumors)
•Uncontrollable feelings of worry
Anxiety disorder can be caused by a lot of factors:
•Genetic: A family history of anxiety is a reason to have any anxiety disorder later in life.
•Environmental factors: Stress, work, relationship or family issues.
•Withdrawal symptoms: Anxiety disorder might be as a result of reaction to withdrawal from the use of certain drugs or substances.
•Medications: Anxiety disorder might sprang up as a side effect to the use of certain medications(drugs)
Brain reaction: Anxiety disorder might also be as a result of certain changes in the brain such as the malfunction of certain hormones or electric signals.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Get Early Help: When you start to notice one or more symptoms of anxiety disorder, get help, visit the nearest hospital, it can be difficult to treat if it gets harder.
Stay Active: Participate in actives you enjoy doing, attend social gathering, find something doing, which might help lessen your worries. Engage in simple activities that can take your mind off worries and fear
Avoid Alcohol Or Drug Use: Anxiety disorder is often as a result of alcohol intake or substance abuse especially when you tend to withdraw from it. Do not indulge in alcohol intake and if you do, get a medical help in quitting.
Stress Management: Learning how to manage, cope and handle stress can help deal with anxiety disorder and limit potential triggers(you might need to attend a stress management class for this)
Exercise: Exercise can help improve self esteem and help release triggers in the brain which produce positive feelings, exercise your body and mind to recognise and focus on positive feelings and thoughts only.
Therapy And counselling : Consult a therapist, engage in behavioral therapy and counselling, e.g cognitive behavioural counselling (CBT) which aim to recognise and change harmful thought patterns or behaviour.
Medications: The use of anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines and Antidepressants(depression is a risk factor for anxiety). Consult with your doctor to know the best anti-anxiety drug for you
By – Oyebisi Oyelami
IG – @queenitee