Alyssa Lindley

OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #29
2:20 (anxiety)

What is Anxiety?

  • Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities.
  • Anxiety is a normal human emotion that most people experience at times.
  • Anxiety disorders cause a great deal of distress that it obstructs with a persons ability to function normally.
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Types of Anxiety

There are several different types of anxiety including panic disorders, social anxiety, specific phobias, and general anxiety.

- Panic disorders are psychiatric disorders in which debilitating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without reasonable cause.

  • People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly without warning.
  • Some symptoms include sweating, chest pain, strong/irregular heartbeats, and feelings of choking.

- Social anxiety is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety.

  • Social anxiety involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday situations.
  • The worry often centers on a fear of being judged or being embarrassed.

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • problems sleeping
  • cold or sweaty hands/feet
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • inability to be still and calm
  • dry mouth
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • nausea
  • muscle tension
  • dizzieness

What causes anxiety disorders?

  • The exact cause is unknown: but anxiety disorder are not a result of personal weakness.
  • As scientist continue research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many disorders are caused by a combination of factors.
  • Like other brain disorders, anxiety may be caused by problems in functioning of brain circuits that regulate fear and emotions.
  • Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the way nerve cells within these circuits transmit information from one region of the brain to another.
  • Other studies have shown that people with certain anxiety disorders have changes in certain brain structures that control memories linked with strong emotions.
  • Moreover, certain environmental factors may trigger an anxiety disorder in people who have an inherited susceptibility to developing the disorder.

How are anxiety disorders diagnosed?

  • If symptoms of anxiety are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by asking questions about your medical history and performing a physical exam.
  • There are no lad tests to specifically diagnose anxiety, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
  • If there is no physical illness found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or different mental health professional who is trained to diagnose and treat mental illness.
  • The doctor will base his/her diagnosis on the patient's report of the intensity and duration of symptoms and the doctor's observation of the patient's symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate a specific anxiety disorder.

How are anxiety disorders treated?

There has been much progression in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:

  • Medication : Drugs used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include anti-depressants and anxiety-reducing drugs.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This is a particular type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Relaxation therapy.

Can Anxiety Disorders be prevented?

Anxiety disorders cannot be prevented; however, there are somethings you can do to control or lessen symptoms:

  • Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.
  • Seek counseling and support if you start to regularly feel anxious with no apparent cause.