Anxiety, in other words 'worry, anxiety, worry, overwhelm' is an emotion we feel quite often. It is the mental and physical reactions of a person to a frightening or threatening situation. It is a normal and generally healthy emotion. A certain level of anxiety alerts us to potential dangers and negative possibilities, regulates our stress response and supports our adaptation process to the situation. However, when a person consistently experiences disproportionate levels of anxiety, it can become a medical disorder when daily functioning is affected.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms are observed as a result of the constant anxiety. Frequently, feeling tense, restless, panicked, fearful, and depressed, resulting in restlessness, rushing or avoidance behaviors may be seen. The most common physical reactions are palpitations, sweating, trembling, inability to breathe, muscle tension, dry mouth and sleep problems. Relationships with other people also tense up. Especially conflicts with friends and family are common and any kind of relationships may degenerate. During this period, when anxiety is very intense, panic attacks may occur too. In this state of intense anxiety palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, feeling like fainting or dying, which starts suddenly and increases fear in a short notice, sometimes without any reason.
There are many psychiatric disorders related to anxiety. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and specific phobias.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
It is a state in which a person, for no apparent reason, thinks about the negative aspects of every situation and feels constantly worried that something bad will happen to them. These anxieties are above normal and even if the person knows this, they cannot prevent it. Generally, these worries experienced are about daily life problems such as health, family-relationship, financial. Since the person spends most of their day with anxious thoughts, their mental functionality deteriorates. Fatigue, attention problems, insomnia, muscle aches, gastrointestinal problems often accompany anxiety. Anxiety is a common disorder that can be occurred in all ages and genders.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear in any social setting. There are intense thoughts of making a mistake, being criticized, ridiculed or humiliated in situations where others will evaluate us. It is especially experienced when entering a new environment, meeting someone new, speaking in front of a group, attending important meetings. At those moments, it may be accompanied by complaints such as palpitations, sweating, trembling, flushing and dry mouth. While the person actually wants to participate in, they avoid many social environments due to their intense anxiety.
What Is the Treatment of Anxiety?
Since many physical symptoms are seen in anxiety disorders, it is important to perform a detailed physical examination, thyroid function tests and cardiologic evaluations if necessary. In the detailed psychiatric evaluation, treatment is determined according to the diagnosis and severity of the condition. Today, there are two scientifically proven treatment methods for anxiety. These are medication and psychotherapy.
1. Drug Therapy
Many different groups of medicines are used in the treatment. These medicines reorganize the cycle in the brain nerve cells that have been disrupted by the disease. The appropriate medication is selected according to the symptoms of the person and should be used for the appropriate period of time. The average duration of treatment is 1 year, but usually patients whose symptoms regress stop taking the medication on their own and the disease recurs frequently. Therefore, it is important that patients are regularly followed up psychiatrist during the entire treatment process. It is important to stop treatment at the appropriate time in psychiatrists’ order.
Many different schools of therapy can be used for anxiety disorders, but the most effective is 'cognitive behavioral therapy'. This therapy plays an effective role in regulating the person's misinformation and beliefs about anxiety and attacks, strengthening ways of coping and correcting the symptoms.
Studies have shown that the most effective treatment method is the combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
There are also some practices that can be done by the person themselves to cope with anxiety. These include regular physical exercises such as walking and sports to reduce stress, learning and practicing breathing-relaxation exercises. Also avoiding sugary foods, caffeine and smoking as they may increase attacks.