Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health problems that affects about 40 million adult Americans. At some point in life, at least one in four people have an anxiety disorder that need treatment at some point. Anxiety disorders defer per person, while other people have less severe anxieties like fear of snakes or spiders hence need not seek treatment, other people have severe anxieties that they need to be treated. This paper will discuss disorders, classifications, diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders (ADs).
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are classified into the following;
Panic disorder is classified as a real sickness that is characterized by sudden terror attacks accompanied by weakness, faintness, sweatiness and dizziness. During the attacks, people affected by the condition feel chilled while their hands feel numb or may be tingling while they may be experiencing nausea, pain especially in the chest or some sensations. Panic attacks produce a sense of unreality and the fear of losing control (National institute of mental health).
People with this kind of condition believe that they suffer from heart attacks, can lose their minds or are in the verge of dying. They affected people are unable to predict when or where the next attack can occur. Panic attacks occur anytime even while asleep and last for about 10 minutes or sometimes more. The condition affects about 6 million American adults and is very common in women than men and the condition begins in late adolescence. The condition begins as a panic attack although not all panic attacks lead to panic disorders. The tendency to have a panic attack is linked to inheritance.
Panic disorder is one of the most of all other disorders and early treatment of condition is recommended to avoid agrophobia. The condition responds well to most medication or to cognitive psychotherapy. Treatment generally is to help the patient change thinking patterns that leads to fear and later anxiety. Other conditions like depression, alcohol abuse can be treated separately (National institute of mental health).
Obsession-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This is a condition that is characterized by persistent upsetting obsessions (thoughts) and the use of rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety produced by the thoughts. Usually the compulsions end up controlling the patients (Dr. Mulholland). An example is a person who is obsessed with dirt, he/she develops a compulsion to wash hands every now and then while if it is for intruders they may be locking and unlocking the door several times before going to sleep. Overdoing such compulsions is not a pleasurable idea although it produces a temporal relief from the obsessive thoughts.
OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults. The problem then may be accompanied by other anxiety disorders or result into a depression and can appear in childhood, adolescences or early adulthood. Research shows that OCD may run in some families. COD symptoms vary over time but if severe the condition can keep one from carrying normal duties either at home or work. Luckily, OCD responds well to treatment with use of certain medicines and psychotherapy in which relaxes the patient and become less sensitive (National institute of mental health).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety that develops after a certain terrifying ordeal like a physical harm or a threat for the same or by witnessing a harmful event. PTSD results from a variety of traumatic events like torture, rape, mugging, being kidnapped or natural terrifying event like tsunamis or floods. People with the condition relieve the disturbance in their thoughts or as nightmares when asleep in what is called flashbacks. These flashbacks consist of images, feelings, smell or sounds by these occurrences. These flashbacks may make a person lose touch with reality and have the feeling that the incident is happening all over again (National institute of mental health).
Symptoms begin three months after the incident happened and may emerge years afterwards. Different affected people have varying PSTD while others do not develop even a minor PSTD. Some people may recover within a short period while others may take longer but in some people the condition become chronic. The condition may be accompanied by depression, substance abuse or result into more other anxiety disorders.
PSTD affects about 7.7 million adult Americans but the condition can affect any person of any age and women are known to more likely develop the condition than men although evidence suggests that susceptibility may run in families. Certain kinds of medicine and psychotherapy are known to treat PSTD symptoms effectively.
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
This is an anxiety that is developed from fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social places like in public speaking. It is diagnosed when people become extremely and excessively self-conscious in social situations. People with the condition develop an intense and persistent fear of being judged by others or by embarrassing themselves. Many people may realize that they have the problem but are not able to overcome their fears (National institute of mental health).
Symptoms for the disorder include blushing, difficulty in talking and sweating. The condition affects about 15 million adult Americans and women are most likely to develop the condition than men. It begins in childhood or at early adolescence. The condition can be treated successfully with use of certain medications or psychotherapy.
A specific phobia is described as an intense, extreme and apprehensive fear of specific conditions or things that have no apparent harm or causes no specific danger. Some of the common specific phobias include those centered on tunnels, heights, flying, driving, dogs or injuries resulting to shedding of blood. People with this kind of fear find it hard to face the feared object or condition as it causes severe anxiety (National institute of mental health).
This condition affects 19.2 million adult American and it is twice in women as in men. Appearing in childhood, specific phobias persist into adulthood although research suggests that it may run in families. Specific phobias are known to respond very well to targeted psychotherapy and affected people should avoid the situation that causes anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is characterized by a constant, apprehensive feeling that something bad is going to happen. People suffering from exaggerated worry are overly concerned about their health, finances, work or family problems. GAD is generally diagnosed when a person continues worrying about certain problems for more than 6 months and the person seems not to get rid of their concerns despite realizing that they have a problem. Symptoms include failure to relax, concentrate or having trouble sleeping. Physical symptoms include fatigue, muscle ache, trembling, headaches, sweating, hot flashes and nausea. With mild conditions, these people can carry out their duties normally although they cannot avoid the situation. Evidence suggests that genes play an important role in GAD and it affects children and young adults. GAD rarely occurs alone and as a result other anxieties accompany it. GAD is treated with medication or with cognitive-behavioral therapy (Brown et al., p.155-157).
Diagnosis Anxiety Disorders
Diagnosis of ADs is done by physically examining the patient and assessing his/her personal history. During diagnosis, it is important that the doctor uncovers any medical problems that may be masked by the anxiety attack. The patient will be required to describe if there is any occurrence of ADs in the family and if there is any contributing factors to his/her condition like a stressful event or recent life changes. Any condition like excessive drinking or substance abuse or change of moods should be communicated to the doctor. Diagnosing children is difficult but doctors should look into the history of the family and closely ach the child in question (University of Maryland Medical Center). Health professional cans also use a handbook called Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) to make diagnoses (Cuncic)
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are treated with specific type of psychotherapy, medication or both. The choice of treatment depends on the patient’s preference. People with anxiety disorder should seek medical intervention before the condition can take a toll on them.
Although medicines do not cure ADs, they keep them under control while the patient receives psychotherapy. Medications are to be prescribed by physicians (usually psychiatrists) who can offer psychotherapy or assist psychologists and or social workers to provide psychotherapy. Proper use of medication cures many AD patients who can then lead normal lives once again.
Some of the medicines administered include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Antidepressants are developed to treat depression and can be effective against ADs. These medicines can start to work immediately but they take about 4-6 weeks to take full effect. Some of the common antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclics and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Anti-Anxiety Drugs include the high-potency benzadiazephines that combat anxiety and are known to have few side effects. Anti-Anxiety Drugs are usually prescribed for short periods because people easily get used to them. Beta-blockers like propranolol are used to treat heart conditions as well as preventing symptoms that accompany ADs (Health.com).
Psychotherapy is the act of talking to trained mental health professional like a psychologist, social worker or a psychiatrist to discover the cause and how to deal with the anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful to treating ADs. Usually it is done in such a way to help people alter people’s thinking ways that help them to support their fears or how they react to certain situations. CBT can last up to 12 weeks or longer especially for OCD, social phobia and PTSD.
Although the cause of ADs is not exactly known, the condition is not due poor upbringing or a weakness. If diagnosed with the condition, patients are advised to seek medical care. The best treatment for many people is a combination of medication with CBT.