Anxiety disorder

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Anxiety disorder

Post  counselor on Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:14 pm

Anxiety


Anxiety (also called angst or worry) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. It is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread. However, anxiety should not be confused with fear, it is more of a dreaded feeling about something which appears intimidating and can overcome an individual. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to a stressor. It may help an individual to deal with a demanding situation by prompting them to cope with it. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.


Signs and symptoms
Anxiety is a generalized mood that can occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which is an appropriate cognitive and emotional response to a perceived threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is related to situations perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable. Another view defines anxiety as "a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events," suggesting that it is a distinction between future and present dangers which divides anxiety and fear. In a 2011 review of the literature, fear and anxiety were said to be differentiated in four domains: (1) duration of emotional experience, (2) temporal focus, (3) specificity of the threat, and (4) motivated direction. Fear is defined as short lived, present focused, geared towards a specific threat, and facilitating escape from threat; while anxiety is defined as long acting, future focused, broadly focused towards a diffuse threat, and promoting caution while approaching a potential threat. While most everyone has an experience with anxiety at some point in their lives, as it is a common reaction to real or perceived threats of all kinds, most do not develop long-term problems with anxiety. When someone does develop chronic or severe problems with anxiety, such problems are usually classified as being one or more of the specific types of Anxiety Disorders.

Anxiety takes several forms: phobia, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and post-traumatic stress. The physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, tachycardia, muscle weakness and tension, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, stomach aches, or tension headaches. As the body prepares to deal with a threat, blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, blood flow to the major muscle groups are increased, while immune and digestive functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response). External signs of anxiety may include pallor, sweating, trembling, and pupillary dilation. For someone who suffers anxiety this can lead to a panic attack.

Although panic attacks are not experienced by every person who has anxiety, they are a common symptom. Panic attacks usually come without warning and although the fear is generally irrational, the subjective perception of danger is very real. A person experiencing a panic attack will often feel as if he or she is about to die or lose consciousness. Between panic attacks, people with panic disorder tend to suffer from anticipated anxiety- a fear of having a panic attack may lead to the development of phobias. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in America as approximately 40 million adults are affected by it.

The emotional effects of anxiety may include "feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) of danger, and, feeling like your mind's gone blank" as well as "nightmares/bad dreams, obsessions about sensations, deja vu, a trapped in your mind feeling, and feeling like everything is scary."

The cognitive effects of anxiety may include thoughts about suspected dangers, such as fear of dying. "You may... fear that the chest pains are a deadly heart attack or that the shooting pains in your head are the result of a tumor or aneurysm. You feel an intense fear when you think of dying, or you may think of it more often than normal, or can’t get it out of your mind."


Nervous habits such as biting fingernailsThe behavioral effects of anxiety may include withdrawal from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past. Anxiety can also be experienced in ways which include changes in sleeping patterns, nervous habits, and increased motor tension like foot tapping.

The symptoms of anxiety include excessive and ongoing worry and tension, an unrealistic view of problems, restlessness or a feeling of being "edgy", irritability, muscle tension, headaches,sweating, difficulty concentrating, nausea, the need to go to the bathroom frequently, tiredness, trouble falling or staying asleep, trembling, and being easily startled.


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