Both Anxiety and Stress share many physical and psychological symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, palpitation, butterflies in tummy, dizziness, feeling of choking or dying, etc. These symptoms constitute the well-known flight or fight reaction and arise from hyperactivation of sympathetic autonomic nervous system.

Anxiety disorder on the other hand describes a mental health condition characterized by extreme or persistent anxiety or fear along with avoidance of anxiety-provoking situation. Avoidance behaviours serve to maintain the condition by maintaining the dysfunctional thought pattern and by not allowing opportunity to disconfirm predictions of bad outcome. There are different types of anxiety disorders based on the specific type of anxiety-provoking thought and the object of fear, which are as follows:

Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition in which a person experiences unremitting and perpetual worries about many different aspects of daily living-such as health, well-being, finances, family, or work-and find it hard to control their worry or to relax.

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks along with fear of having further attacks and avoidance. During a panic attack people experience intense anxiety symptoms which can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Not everyone who has panic attacks has a panic disorder.

Agoraphobia is a strong fear of or urge to avoid places where escape may be difficult or embarrassing (like crowds, public places). Panic disorder and agoraphobia may co-exist.

Social anxiety disorder is a condition where a person is terrified of social situations and avoids them due to the fear of being judged or fear of displaying their anxiety in public. This condition is also known as social phobia.

Separation anxiety disorder is a conditions where children or teenagers experience extreme anxiety in the event of actual or anticipated separation from their parents or caregivers. These individuals can develop physical symptoms and will try everything to prevent separation; they often come across as very clingy.

Specific phobias are a group of condition in which people experience unreasonable fear and strong avoidance of specific object, situation or activity. Such triggers can be diverse and commonly include fear of animals, height, flying, enclosed spaces, water, blood, etc.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is syndrome that develops after someone has been exposed to (or has witnessed) a severe traumatic event(s). Examples of such events are-war, physical or sexual assault, accidents and natural disasters and others. In addition to physical symptoms of anxiety symptoms PTSD includes: nightmares, flashbacks, numbness and extreme avoidance of situations that are related or resemble the original traumatic event(s).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where the person has recurrent thoughts or urges that are inherently unpleasant (called obsessions). Examples are-feeling that their hand are dirty or feeling that have to count things. As a result, they develop time-consuming rituals to try and reduce their distress (these are called compulsions), for example, repeatedly washing hands or counting how many times they have done certain things to make it just right. There are other conditions which have similar mechanism as OCD and examples are: Body dysmorphic disorder, where the focus is on minor defects in appearance and Hoarding disorder, where person is unusually preoccupied with collecting useless objects, creating a squalor.

What can I do about my anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are among the most treatable mental illnesses. There are a few different things you can do that have been shown by research to help:

Counselling

Majority of people with mild to moderate anxiety disorders will benefit from a special form of counselling called Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). A CBT-trained mental health professional can work your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that triggers or maintain your anxiety. They can also teach you a variety of coping strategies They will slowly re-introduce the things that you may have been avoiding or are afraid of until you feel more comfortable. CBT is a short-term treatment and requires active participation and practice of learned skills between sessions and after the treatment is over.

Medications

Many antidepressants and some antiepileptics have proven efficacy in management of severe anxiety disorder, when used in conjunction with CBT. Medications work by reducing your body’s anxiety response.

Support groups

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common conditions. You are not alone. Support groups are a great way to share your experiences and learn from the experiences of others.

Self-help

There are some things you can do on your own to feel better. Regular exercise, eating well, managing stress, spending time with friends and family, spirituality, and monitoring alcohol intake can help keep anxiety from getting worse or coming back. Talking to your doctor, asking questions, and feeling in charge of your own health are also very important.

What if I’m not responding to my current treatment?

Your psychiatrist will try to determine the exact cause of treatment nonresponse, which include co-morbid medical conditions, co-morbid brain disorder, or complicated psychological or social problem, among other things. If symptoms remain despite adequate counselling, additional medications can help. Otherwise, it may be time to consider biofeedback and neurofeedback which work by targeting disordered sympathetic nervous system and disordered brain circuits, respectively, which are implicated in maintenance of anxiety disorder.

 

Please speak to our staff or healthcare professional for more information about Neurofeedback.