Anxiety

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Anxiety

“These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb….”  Nawja Zebian

Do you have symptoms of:

Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
Sweating
Trembling or shaking
Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
Feelings of choking
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or abdominal distress

Anxiety feels like fear. It is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. When it’s there a lot of the time, caused by a problem in our life that can’t be solved, like money difficulties, we call it worry. If it is a sudden reaction to a threat, like looking over a cliff or being confronted by a vicious dog, we call it fear. Anxiety and fear are normal human emotions.


Fast facts about anxiety

  • An anxiety attack usually involves a fear of some specific occurrence or problem that could happen.
  • Symptoms include worry, restlessness, and possibly physical symptoms, such as changes in heart rate.
  • Anxiety is different from a panic attack, but it can occur as part of an anxiety or panic disorder.

Kathleen Davis FNP states in Medical New Today  (5 November 2018) that anxiety can be a symptom of panic, but it is different from a panic attack.

An anxiety attack, or anxiety:

  • can have a specific trigger, such as an exam, workplace issues, a health issue, or a relationship problem
  • is not a diagnosable condition
  • is less severe than a panic attack
  • usually develops gradually when a person feels anxious
  • involves physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or “knot in the stomach”

A panic attack:

  • does not have a specific trigger
  • can be a symptom of panic disorder, a diagnosable condition
  • has severe symptoms
  • can happen whether a person feels calm or anxious
  • involves physical symptoms and feelings of terror so intense that the person fears a total loss of control or imminent death
  • often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and last between a few minutes and an hour, although the negative impact may continue

NOTE: The term “anxiety attack” is not listed in the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM-V).

Panic attacks, however, are a symptom of panic disorder in the DSM-V. Only a licensed professional can diagnose panic disorder.


Difference in symptoms

Both panic and anxiety can involve fear, a pounding or racing heart, light-headedness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and irrational thoughts. However, in a panic attack, these are far more severe. The person may genuinely believe they are going to die. A person is more likely to require medical attention if they have a panic attack versus an anxiety attack.


Differences in how they start

Anxiety can be a response to a specific worry or fear. It tends to develop gradually, and a person is usually worried or concerned at the outset. It can be mild, moderate or severe. There may be a sense that if only this problem can be solved, everything will be all right.

A panic attack can happen without warning, and there is no way to prevent it. It can happen whether a person feels calm or anxious, and even during sleep. There is often no obvious cause, and the level of fear is out of proportion to the trigger. In fact, according to the APA, the reaction is unrelated to the situation.


Differences in duration

Anxiety is often related to a specific situation. It tends to build up and continue for some time.

A panic attack starts suddenly, symptoms peak after 10 minutes and usually abate after 30 minutes or so, although the effects may last longer. Anxiety generally does not peak in this way, but some people with anxiety can progress to panic attacks.


Can anxiety lead to panic?

A person who has panic disorder may experience anxiety that they are going to have a panic attack. The uncertainty about if or when an attack is going to happen can lead to anxiety between attacks.

For a person with panic disorder, anxiety may trigger a panic attack. The fear of having a panic attack can affect the person’s behavior and ability to function in daily life.

The APA suggest there may be a biological factor underlying panic disorder, but scientists have not yet identified a specific marker.


Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders differ from normal these normal emotions in terms of degree and duration. The fear is excessive and continues beyond developmentally appropriate periods.

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that share a general feature of excessive fear, which affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms.  For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. In order to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the DSM criteria require that symptoms must cause a person significant distress or impairment. Therefore, just because someone is experiencing some symptoms of anxiety, it does not mean they meet the requirements for a mental disorder unless their symptoms are highly distressing to them, and/or cause significant problems in their functioning. Similarly, panic attacks are a prominent symptom of many anxiety disorders.


There are several types of anxiety disorders:

  • Panic Attacks
  • Panic Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Selective Mutism
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific Phobias
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Related Disorders
  • Associated Psychiatric Disorders

Symptoms

All anxiety disorders share some general symptoms:

  • Panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Not being able to stay calm and still
  • Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Tense muscles
  • Dizziness

Causes

Researchers don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders. Like other forms of mental illness, they stem from a combination of things, including changes in your brain and environmental stress, and even your genes. The disorders can run in families and could be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and other emotions.


Get help

Psychotherapy : Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: People suffering from anxiety disorders often participate in this type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.


Coping with anxiety

DIET: Cut down on foods and drinks that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine is a mood-altering drug, and it may make symptoms of anxiety disorders worse.

BALANCED LIFESTYLE: Eat right, exercise, and get better sleep. Brisk aerobic exercises like jogging and biking help release brain chemicals that cut stress and improve your mood.

SLEEP: Sleep problems and anxiety disorder often go hand in hand. Make getting good rest a priority. Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Talk to your doctor if you still have trouble sleeping.

NOTE: It is not a good idea to watch suspense thrillers, intense action movies or series, or play thrilling Xbox games if you suffer from anxiety. It could trigger an anxiety attack. It is better to read a book or play board games with your family.

SUPPLEMENTS: By using natural remedies and vitamins for anxiety and panic attacks, you can treat the underlying root cause of these mood disorders and get lasting relief.

VITAMIN B COMPLEX: Helpful vitamins for anxiety can be a number of B vitamins. The B vitamin deficiencies most often linked to panic attacks, anxiety and depression are B6, B9, and B12. B-complex supplements usually pack all eight B vitamins into one pill. B vitamins are water-soluble, which means your body does not store them. For this reason, your diet must supply them each day. It is best to supplement with one very good Vitamin B complex tablet per day. If you can buy a sustained release product – they release the vitamin over a number of hours for maximum absorption.


Other supplements that are recommended for anxiety:

Calcium – magnesium: Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, which immensely helps with anxiety. It’s a nervous system relaxant and mineral that assists with fear, irritability, and restlessness.

Passionflower: This is a calming herb for anxiety, insomnia, and even seizures. By increasing levels of GABA [gamma-aminobutyric acid] in the brain, the nervous system relaxes through the reduction of brain activity, resulting in a decrease of anxiety and stress. For people dealing with insomnia, this is extremely beneficial.

Licorice Root: licorice root regulates your adrenal glands, which are the stress glands in your body. The adrenal glands release two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Those are the hormones that make you feel stressed. But licorice root can help slow the production of those hormones. It even helps fight adrenal fatigue so you sleep better at night.”

St John’s Wort: It lifts a low mood and promotes feelings of optimism and contentment, easing anxiety. Just be aware that St. John’s wort may not react well to some prescription antidepressants, so speak to a doctor if you’re considering adding it to your routine.

Melatonin: Your body creates melatonin on its own, but some people just don’t make enough, and that can lead to issues sleeping and relaxing as well as general anxiety issues. Melatonin products are available to supplement your body’s natural production. And that, in turn, can ease those anxiety-related feelings, improve sleep, and even help regulate your circadian rhythms.

Omega 3: In addition to supporting heart health, fish oil contains a specific omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid, which has been linked to mood.  Omega-3’s are the basic building blocks of the brain and nervous system, so taking fish oil helps maintain a healthy level of cognitive function.

Probiotics: While Probiotics are commonly known to support digestion and immune system health, most people don’t realize that they have also been studied for years for their impact on brain health. Maintaining a healthy amount of gut bacteria affects a healthy response to chronic stress and has been shown to promote mental health and cognitive function.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can make anxiety symptoms worse.


MOBIEG Helpline

You can chat to an online facilitator for  more information and help regarding anxiety. Just click on LIVE CHAT.

It is a free counseling service and you may remain anonymous.


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