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Anxiety Disorder

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is like that annoying friend who always shows up uninvited and overstays their welcome. It's that feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease that creep up on you when you least expect it. And just like that friend, it can interfere with your daily activities and quality life if you let it But don't worry, are ways to kick to the curb and show who's boss!

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

GAD is the most common type of anxiety disorder.

The main symptom of GAD is excessive worrying about different activities and events. You may feel anxious a lot of the time if you have GAD. You might feel ‘on edge’ and hyper-alert to your surroundings.

GAD can affect your day-to-day life. You might find that it affects areas of your life including:

  • Your ability to work or hold down employment.

  • Travel, or leave the house.

  • Your energy, sleep or concentration.

You might also have physical symptoms, such as muscle pain.

It is common to have other conditions such as depression or other anxiety disorders if you have Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) be challenging to diagnose as it lacks some of the unique symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Typically, doctors diagnose GAD if an individual has experienced anxiety for most days over six months, and it has negatively impacted multiple areas of their life. If you you may have GAD, it's essential to speak with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by sudden and repeated episodes of intense fear and physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. These panic attacks can occur unexpectedly and often lead to avoidance of certain situations or places. Treatment options include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes

Panic disorder symptoms can include:

  • An overwhelming sense of dread or fear

  • Chest pain or a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly

  • Feeling that you might be dying or having a heart attack

  • Sweating and hot flushes, or chills and shivering

  • A dry mouth, shortness of breath or feeling like you’re choking

  • Nausea, dizziness and feeling faint

  • Numbness, pins and needles or a tingling sensation in your fingers

  • A need to go to the toilet

  • A churning stomach

  • Ringing in your ears

Helping someone who is having a panic attack

Health Anxiety

Health anxiety, also known as hypochondria, is a condition where a becomes excessively worried about their health and misinterprets normal bodily sensations as signs of serious illness. This can lead to frequent doctor visits, unnecessary medical tests, and a decreased quality of life.

Treatment options include therapy and medication.

If you have health anxiety you may find that you are:

  • Constantly checking your body for signs of illness such as lumps or pain

  • Seeking reassurance from others or from medical professionals that you are not ill

  • Worrying that advice or results from medical professionals are incorrect

  • Obsessively consume health related information on the internet and match descriptions of illness to own symptoms

  • Avoid health related content, such as TV soaps

The physical symptoms of anxiety may replicate symptoms of illness which can be mistaken for signs of serious illness by those who have health anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that causes intense fear, nervousness, and self-consciousness in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder may avoid social situations altogether or endure them with extreme distress. It can significantly impact a person's daily life and relationships.

Some common situations where you may experience anxiety:

  • Speaking in public or in groups

  • Meeting new people or strangers

  • Dating

  • Eating or drinking in public

You may be worried that you will do something or act in a way that is embarrassing. You might feel aware of the physical signs of your anxiety, such as:

  • Sweating

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Shaky voice

  • Blushing

You may worry that others will notice or judge you and you might try to avoid certain situations. You may see that your fears aren’t logical , but it’s difficult to control them.

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or where help may not be available in the event of a panic attack. This fear often leads to avoidance of certain places or situations, which can significantly impact a person's daily life.

  • Being in public spaces

  • Using public transport

  • Being in crowded spaces

You might find that these situations affect your daily routine by actively avoiding them as they make you feel distressed, panicked or anxious.

If you have agoraphobia you may find it difficult to make an appointment with your GP to talk about your symptoms. You might feel unable to leave your house to go to the GP surgery. You can arrange a telephone appointment if you have symptoms of agoraphobia.

Dermatillomania

Dermatillomania, also known as skin picking disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by the compulsive urge to pick at one's skin, resulting in skin damage and sometimes infection. It can be a challenging condition to manage, but with proper treatment and support, individuals with dermatillomania can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life

Physical Effects of Anxiety on the Body

Sleeplessness

When you're anxious, your body produces stress hormones that can keep you awake at night. Additionally, anxious thoughts can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. If you're struggling with anxiety-related sleep issues, there are several strategies you can try to improve your sleep, such as practicing relaxation techniques, establishing a consistent sleep routine, and avoiding caffeine and electronics before bedtime.

Social Withdrawal

When we feel anxious, we may avoid social situations or interactions that trigger our anxiety. Over time, this can lead to isolation and a sense of loneliness. It's important to seek support and treatment if you're experiencing anxiety and social withdrawal, as there are many effective ways to manage these challenges.

Specific Phobias

Anxiety can lead to the development of phobias. When someone experiences intense fear or anxiety in response to a situation or object, they may begin to avoid it altogether. Over time, this avoidance can turn into a phobia. It's important to seek professional help if you're struggling with anxiety or phobias.

Sweating/Trembling

 When you feel anxious, your body releases stress hormones that can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, and a rapid heartbeat.

Digestive Issues

When you're, your body releases stress hormones that can affect digestive system, leading to symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhoea. 

Panic

Panic attacks are often a result of intense anxiety and can be triggered by various factors such as stress, fear, or even physical sensations. Panic attacks can cause physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

Ways to help Minimize Anxiety

Talking to someone 

Talking to someone can be a helpful way to manage anxiety. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend, family member, or mental health professional can provide support and perspective, and help you feel less alone in your struggles It's important to find someone who is a good listener and who you feel comfortable talking to.

Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing

Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique to manage anxiety. By taking slow, deep breaths, you can your mind and body, reducing of stress and tension. 

Engaging in regular exercise

Regular exercise has been shown to be an effective way to manage anxiety. Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels. Whether it's a brisk, a yoga class, or a weightlifting session, finding a form of exercise that you enjoy can be a great way to take care of your mental health.

Getting enough sleep

Getting enough sleep can help reduce anxiety. Lack of sleep can increase feelings of stress and anxiety, while getting enough rest can help improve mood and overall well-being. It's important to prioritize good sleep habits as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can be helpful in managing anxiety symptoms. Both substances can increase feelings of anxiety and make it harder to relax. By cutting back or eliminating them from your diet, you may notice a decrease in your anxiety levels.

Additionally, seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional can be helpful in managing anxiety.

Advice for Family and Friends

Don't pressure them

Supporting a loved one with anxiety can be challenging. It's important to be patient and listen to their wishes. Avoid putting pressure on them to do more they feel comfortable with. Remember that being unable to control their worries is part of having anxiety, and they aren't choosing how they feel.

Try to Understand

It's important to understand that anxiety is a real and valid condition that can affect anyone, and it's not something that can be easily controlled or overcome. If know someone who is dealing with anxiety, it's important to be patient, supportive, and understanding.

You could ask them questions about how their anxiety effects their every day tasks to help further your understanding. 

Ask how you can help 

Asking how you can help someone experiencing anxiety can be helpful. It shows that you care and are willing to support them. However, it's important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding, and to be open to their needs and preferences.

Support them to seek help and advice

If you want to help someone with anxiety reach out for help, the first step is to let them know that you're there for them and that care. Encourage them to seek professional help, such as therapy counseling, and offer to help them find resources if needed. Be patient and understanding, and avoid minimizing their feelings or pressuring them to do anything they're not comfortable with. Remember that everyone's journey is different, and the most important thing is to support them their efforts to manage their anxiety.

Look after yourself

When supporting someone with anxiety, it's important to prioritize your own self-care as well. This can include setting boundaries, taking breaks when needed, and seeking support from others. Remember that you can't pour from an empty cup, so taking care of yourself will ultimately benefit both you and the person're supporting.

Further Support

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