In today’s society, it is normal for people to feel anxious about certain occurrences in their lives such as parental responsibilities, job interviews, relationships, taking exams, and dealing with the loss of loved ones. However, when anxiety takes over individuals’ lives, it becomes problematic. According to the National Institute of Mental health, more than 40 million people between the ages of 18 and 54 suffer from anxiety disorders (Bourne 34).
Anxiety is a critical mental health issue because the majority of the victims suffer in silence because of misdiagnosis, failure to seek professional help, or lack of awareness. I think anxiety is the feeling of unease or worry regarding a certain situation or event that an individual is experiencing or anticipating. Anxiety is a normal part of life that can lead to mental illnesses known as anxiety disorders when it occurs frequently and uncontrollably.
An anxiety disorder is a condition that results from constant and never-ending feelings of fear, worry, or panic (Ranchman 22). Individuals with anxiety disorders experience constant worry and the anxiety gets worse with time until it stops them from fulfilling their duties properly. The most common types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalize anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Ranchman 23).
The main symptoms of anxiety disorders include nausea, muscle tension, dizziness, sweaty hands and feet, dry mouth, shortness of breath, numbness, and feelings of fear and panic (Bourne 46). Others include restlessness, sleep problems, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and being easily fatigued. The risk factors for anxiety disorders include gender, history of mental disorders, financial difficulties, shyness, and exposure to stressful life events such as divorce or death of a loved one (Ranchman 31). Women are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders than men.
Generalized anxiety disorder experience heightened anxiety or panic for extended periods and display symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, and restlessness. This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. On the other hand, panic disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of panic attacks that render individuals helpless. Symptoms include accelerated heart rate, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking, and intense sweating (Ranchman 40).
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by fear or avoidance of social situations that individuals think are likely to make them feel embarrassed, rejected, upset, or judged. Individuals with this anxiety disorder feel embarrassed about engaging n everyday social situations because of the fear of being ridiculed by other people. This anxiety disorder is crippling because victims spend a lot of time indoors. Symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include staying away from social situations, anxiousness about interacting with people, self-consciousness when amid other people and excessive sweating when approaching social situations (Ranchman 47).
The two major approaches used to treat anxiety disorders include psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatment remedies for anxiety disorders because it is tailored to treat specific disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common psychotherapy approach used to treat anxiety. It involves teaching individuals new ways of thinking and behaving (Ranchman 73). Skills such as how to effectively react to situations that elicit feelings of anxiety are imparted. Also, social skills are taught.
Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are components of CBT that successfully treat anxiety. Cognitive therapy involves identifying and replacing thoughts that propagate anxiety while exposure therapy involves confronting fears that stop individuals from engaging in certain activities (Barlow 51). Research studies have shown that cognitive therapy is more effective than exposure therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Medication does not eradicate anxiety disorders. However, it relieves symptoms and makes life easy for patients. In many instances, medications are used after other remedies have failed to work. In other cases, physicians used them as the initial form of treatment before using other treatment modalities. Studies have shown that better results are achieved when medication and psychotherapy are used together. The most commonly used medications include antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety drugs (Barlow 53). Anti-anxiety drugs eradicate symptoms that include panic attacks, worry, and extreme fear. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly administered anti-anxiety drug. Beta-blockers are effective in relieving symptoms associated with social anxiety such as rapid heartbeat and trembling (Barlow 53). The type of medication administered depends on the patient’s situation and type of disorder.
In conclusion, feeling anxious is an inevitable part of life. It is normal to experience anxiety when going for an exam, job interview, date, or when approaching a stressful situation. Frequent episodes of anxiety that cripple people and render them ineffective in their daily activities are problematic because they lead to anxiety disorders. Statistics reveal that frequent anxiety is a serious problem because, in addition to disabling people, it causes mental illnesses and exacerbates physical illnesses. Psychotherapy and medication are the most effective treatment remedies for anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy involves teaching individuals new ways of thinking, approaching, and reacting to events and situations that cause anxiety. On the other hand, medications relieve symptoms of anxiety such as shaking, nausea, and excessive sweating.
Barlow, David. Anxiety and its disorders: the nature and treatment of anxiety and panic. New York: Guilford Press, 2004. Print.
Bourne, Edmund. The anxiety and phobia workbook. New York: new Harbinger Publications, 2011. Print.
Ranchman, Stanley. Anxiety. new York: Psychology Press, 2004. Print.