What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. It is often the body’s natural response to danger or pressure, and can help you stay alert and focused. Everyone has feelings of anxiety in a wide range of situations, it can be over an exam or a job interview, but when these fears become overwhelming and interfere with one’s daily life, it is classified as an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder can be mild or severe, as some people find it harder than others to control their worries. It is a long-term condition, which can affect you psychologically as well as physically, and can even cause intense panic episodes known as anxiety attacks.
The condition also encompasses panic disorder, social anxiety or anxiety brought on by phobias.
Symptoms of anxiety can be mental as well as physical.
Psychological symptoms can cause a change in behaviour and the way you think and feel about things. You may withdraw from social contact and find general scenarios difficult and stressful. Symptoms include;
- Trouble concentrating
- Sense of dread
- Feeling ‘on edge’
Physical symptoms include;
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle aches and tension
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach ache and nausea
The exact cause of anxiety disorders are unknown, it is usually a combination of factors. It could be caused by problems in the functioning of brain circuits that regulate fear and emotions, along with environmental factors causing trauma or stress.
It may not always be clear what is triggering your anxiety, which can cause further worry and uncertainty.
There are certain risk factors associated with developing anxiety disorders;
- Behavioural inhibition
- Few economic resources
- Exposure to stressful life events
- Anxiety disorder in close relatives
It can be a challenge to diagnose and distinguish anxiety disorders from other mental health conditions such as depression.
You are usually diagnosed with the condition if;
- Your worrying significantly affects your daily life, including your job and social relationships
- Worries are extremely stressful and upsetting
- You worry about all sorts of things and have a tendency to think the worst
- Worrying is uncontrollable
- You’ve felt worried nearly everyday for the last six months
Your GP may ask about your physical and/or psychological symptoms, assessing how long you’ve had them and their nature.
If required, you may be asked to carry out blood tests to rule out other conditions such as anaemia and hyperthyroidism that may cause similar symptoms.
It is essential to understand the condition and all the risks associated with it before beginning treatment for anxiety.
Anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on your daily life. You can help ease your worry through regular exercise, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol and caffeine.
We at The Online Surgery can prescribe Beta-blockers, such as Propranolol, to help treat the physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heartbeat and trembling.