Anxiety Disorders And Their Treatment
Anxiety is a natural emotional state that appears in everyday life. It is a normal reaction to stressful situations such as a public speech, an important exam, or a threat from an aggressive dog. However, for some people, anxiety lasts longer and is more severe, even after the stressful moment is long past. Prolonged anxiety and tension can become a serious disorder that makes it impossible to deal with everyday matters, and the person experiencing it is unable to control it. It’s really important to start treatment as soon as possible. One of the highly effective methods is TMS therapy. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it begins to have a paralyzing effect on a person’s life – when it significantly reduces the quality of life and functioning (e.g. by avoiding social contact) and is a source of mental suffering.
Anxiety disorders – common features
There are many types of anxiety. Each of them is slightly different, however, there are several common elements:
- feeling worried and anxious most of the time
- difficulty in calming down
- feeling overwhelmed or scared by sudden panic / anxiety feelings
- experiencing recurring thoughts that cause anxiety
- experiencing unpleasant states (memories, nightmares) after a traumatic event,
- there may be ailments related to the circulatory system, respiration, digestive system – specific examples of somatic symptoms are given for individual disorders,
- It is also worth knowing that anxiety may accompany some somatic diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease, hypoglycaemia). For this reason, in order to diagnose anxiety disorders, it is necessary to first exclude the causes of anxiety resulting from somatic diseases.
What are the causes of excessive anxiety?
Excessive anxiety is most often a combination of factors:
mental disorders in the family of origin:
may be a predisposition to develop anxiety disorders, but this does not mean that if someone in the family has struggled with psychological problems, they will automatically affect us as well,
change of work, apartment, pregnancy and the birth of a child, experiencing a traumatic event, death of a loved one, experiencing verbal, sexual, physical or emotional violence,
physical health problems:
the most common somatic diseases that trigger anxiety are hormonal problems, diabetes, asthma, heart disease,
Panic anxiety with or without agoraphobia
A person with this disorder experiences sudden panic attacks (around 5-20 minutes), intense and overwhelming episodes of severe anxiety that feel “unmanageable”. They are usually accompanied by a number of physiological symptoms (dyspnoea, sweating, body tremors, shallow breathing, dizziness, numbness, nausea, abdominal pain, fear of death, paraesthesia). Panic attacks are sudden, not related to any situational factor. A person experiencing panic anxiety is often afraid of the occurrence of further attacks, therefore he avoids places from which escaping could be difficult (often in a cinema, supermarket, public transport) – in such cases, panic anxiety is diagnosed with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia can also occur without panic attacks. In this case, the person avoids being in public places for fear of somatic ailments – heart attack, fainting. More: in the article Panic disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The main feature of OCD is the repeated occurrence of obsessions and compulsions, which are severe and time-consuming (> 1 hour per day). Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive, unacceptable and repetitive thoughts, images and impulses that are difficult to control and cause great stress, even if the experiencing person realizes their irrationality. Their content focuses on deadly, disgusting, meaningless content such as dirt, pollution, germs, unacceptable sexual behavior, fear of harming someone, the need for order and symmetry.
Compulsions usually occur in response to obsessions. These are rigid, repetitive rituals that one feels compelled to perform. Their purpose is to reduce the tension caused by intrusive thoughts and to protect against fear.