ANXIETY is a normal response to stress or danger. At times it's helpful because it can help prepare the body for action, and it can improve performance in a range of situations. It only becomes a problem when it is experienced intensely and it persistently interferes with a person's daily life.
Depression and anxiety commonly occur together. Not everybody who is anxious is depressed, but most depressed patients have some symptoms of anxiety.
CAUSES:Are not fully known, but things to do with your family, your body and what has happened to you in the past are all believed to be involved.
Studies have shown that some people are born more likely to have high levels of anxiety. You are probably more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder if someone in your family does.
Drug use and some physical conditions can also lead to increased anxiety as can one or more events that cause significant adjustments in everyday life (e.g. marriage, injury or retirement).
- Inner tension.
- Fear of losing control.
- Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen, such as a blackout, seizure, heart attack or death.
- Feelings of detachment, as if being trapped in a bubble separate from the world.
- Racing heart beat (palpitations).
- Breathing fast, feeling short of breath or finding it hard to 'get breath'.
- Chest tightness.
- Dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach, feeling sick.
- An urge to pass urine.
Five major types of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
1) Psychological: Often tried first. They may include learning about the symptoms and realising that though they are frightening, they are not medically dangerous. Relaxation techniques can also be helpful.
People with OCD can be taught 'thought stopping' techniques to prevent obsessional thoughts.
Phobias can be treated by a number of techniques including 'graded exposure'.
- Diazepam , Lorazepam - effective in quickly relieving the symptoms of anxiety. However, the body rapidly becomes used to these drugs and they can be addictive. Should not be used for longer periods.
- Other medicines can help some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, for example propranolol (eg Inderal LA) can slow a fast heart beat and reduce tremor.
Antidepressants – such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Seroxat (paroxetine), Lustral (sertraline) and Cipramil (citalopram) – these appear to be better for panic disorder and OCD. A newer antidepressant Cipralex (escitalopram) is also proving to be beneficial in many patients with anxiety and panic disorders. Other antidepressants such as Gamanil (lofepramine) and Edronax (reboxetine) may be helpful for social phobias.