Introduction to Anxiety:
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is ‘to vex or trouble’. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, nervousness, or fear. The source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognized, which can add to the distress you feel.
Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry often is unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning, including work, school, social activities, and relationships.
Anxiety, Stress, Tension, Apprehension
Stress is a normal part of life. In small quantities, stress is helpful — it can motivate you and help you be more productive. However, too much stress, or a strong response to stress, is harmful. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another.
It can set you up for general poor health, as well as physical and psychological illnesses like infection, heart disease, and depression. Ongoing stress can lead to anxiety and unhealthy behaviors like overeating and abuse of alcohol or drugs.
Emotional states like grief or depression, and health conditions like an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar, or heart attack can also cause stress-like symptoms.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully known, but a number of factors – including genetics, brain chemistry and environmental stresses — appear to contribute to its development.
- Genetics: Some research suggests that family history plays a part in increasing the likelihood that a person will develop GAD. This means that the tendency to develop GAD may be passed on in families.
- Brain chemistry: GAD has been associated with abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that help move information from nerve cell to nerve cell. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot get through the brain properly. This can alter the way the brain reacts in certain situations, leading to anxiety.
- Environmental factors: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may lead to GAD. GAD also may become worse during periods of stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can also worsen anxiety.
Certain drugs, both recreational and medicinal, can lead to symptoms of anxiety due to either side effects or withdrawal from the drug. Such drugs include:
- ADHD medications, especially amphetamines
- Benzodiazepines (during withdrawal)
- Bronchodilators (for asthma and certain other breathing disorders)
- Cold remedies
- Diet pills
- Thyroid medications
A poor diet — for example, low levels of vitamin B12 can also contribute to stress or anxiety. In very rare cases, a tumor of the adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma) may cause anxiety or stress-like symptoms. The symptoms are caused by an overproduction of hormones responsible for the feelings of anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
Anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain (this may be the only symptom of anxiety, especially in a child)
- Diarrhea or frequent need to urinate
- Dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
- Muscle tension
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Twitching or trembling
Sometimes other symptoms occur with anxiety:
- Decreased concentration
- Irritability, including loss of your temper
- Sexual problems
- Sleeping difficulties, including nightmares
Anxiety may occur as part of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that involve excessive anxiety. They include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects the way a person thinks, but the anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, as well. Symptoms of GAD can include:
- Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
- An unrealistic view of problems
- Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty concentrating
- The need to go to the bathroom frequently
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Being easily startled
In addition, people with GAD often have other anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder, obsessive –compulsive disorder, and phobias), suffer from depression, and/or abuse drugs or alcohol.
Diagnosis of Anxiety/GAD:
If symptoms of Anxiety/ GAD are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by asking questions about your medical history and performing a physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose anxiety disorders, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
The doctor bases his or her diagnosis of GAD on reports of the intensity and duration of symptoms — including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate a specific anxiety disorder. GAD is diagnosed if symptoms are present for more days than not during a period of at least six months. The symptoms also must interfere with daily living, such as causing you to miss work or school.
Treatment for Anxiety:
If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses like GAD. Treatment for GAD most often includes a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy.
- Medication: Drugs are available to treat GAD and may be especially helpful for people whose anxiety is interfering with daily functioning. The medications most often used to treat GAD in the short-term are ‘anti-depressants’ and ‘tranquilizers’. They work by decreasing the physical symptoms of GAD, such as muscle tension and restlessness. These antidepressants may take a few weeks to start working but they’re more appropriate for long-term treatment of GAD.
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy: People suffering from anxiety disorders often participate in this type of therapy, in which you learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviours that lead to anxious feelings. This type of therapy helps limit distorted thinking by looking at worries more realistically.
- Ayurvedic treatment for anxiety:
One should use,
- Apply Ayurvedic Massage Oils such as Hibril Oil
- Application of Paste of Ayurvedic Herbs (Tagara, Vacha, Rakta-chandan and Nilotapala-these four heabs mixed with luke warm Ghee).
- Take ayurvedic medicines internally, such as, Vacha (Acorus calamus), Jyotishmati (Celestrus paniculatas), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Tagara( Valeriana jatamansi), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Brahmi (Centella asiatica), Haritaki ( Terminalia chebula) etc.
In addition, relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and biofeedback, may help to control the muscle tension that often accompanies GAD. Also, find healthy lifestyle choices to help you cope with stress.
- Don’t use nicotine, cocaine, or other recreational drugs.
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Don’t overeat.
- Do Yoga exercises (including Pranayama) and Meditation regularly.
- Find self-help books at your local library or bookstore.
- Get enough sleep.
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques like guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi or meditation.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Take breaks from work. Make sure to balance fun activities with your responsibilities. Spend time with people you enjoy.
- Take Relaxing bath
- Press the Calming pressure points.