Anxiety can have many symptoms and causes. Here is a general description of the effects and what treatment strategies are there to get rid of anxiety attacks.
Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment Strategies
Anxiety (literally meaning “to vex” or “to trouble”) can refer to both a psychological and physiological condition. It can occur either as a response to acute psychological stress or in the complete absence of it. When it is caused by a stressor, it is often considered a positive reaction or coping mechanism for a difficult situation.
However, when anxiety is seemingly without cause and constant or overbearing, it can fall under the category of an “anxiety disorder”. This classification is made based on the reasoning (or root cause; whether it is adequate) and intensity (whether or not the level of anxiety is justified by the degree of stressor).
Anxiety is different from fear in that it is often times more general and without any specific stimulus. It is not an acute, emotional response to a specific threat, nor is it related to the behaviors of avoidance and escape; rather, anxiety is linked to situations that the individual perceives as out of their control or unavoidable. Fear is generally focused on the present whereas anxiety is more focused on the future.
The symptoms of anxiety include muscle weakness, heart palpitations, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow to the muscles, and sweating. A sense of dread (generalized or acute) and panic, accompanied by trembling or paling of the skin is also common. Panic attacks, which have often been linked to anxiety, are very common but do not always occur.
The effects of anxiety are as acutely emotional as they are physical. People suffering from anxiety disorders commonly experience trouble concentrating, constant feelings of dread, nightmares, irritability, and perpetual negative expectations. Sometimes these disorders can manifest themselves in something as innocent as foot tapping,.
In other situations, the individual may withdraw entirely from situations linked to their anxiety such as social functions or the outside world in general.
Anxiety disorders have been said to have a wide range of causes both psychological and biological. In the brain, neural circuitry in the hippocampus and amygdale is said to be the primary culprit.
Researchers have also found a wide variety of genes and environmental factors said to contribute to anxiety disorders, though nothing conclusive has been proven. Additionally, health issues such as heart arrhythmia, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and heart failure have all been shown to have anxiety as a symptom.
Anxiety Types and Treatments
“Anxiety disorder” is a broad category of conditions that can mean any of the following: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These can be treated via psychotherapy, medication, and alternative medicine.
Psychotherapy (specifically Cognitive-Behavioral therapy) seeks to question and talk through the root cause of the anxiety (cognitive) while attempting to separate the feelings of anxiety from the stressor (behavioral).
Medication such as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), a class of antidepressants, has proven to be effective in treating the symptoms, though once it is stopped the underlying cause is generally still present. Finally, alternative therapies such as proper sleep patterns, decreased use of caffeine, and regular aerobic exercise have proven to reduce the generalized feelings of anxiety in an individual.