Anxiety Disorder

It is normal for most human beings to feel anxiety at some point in their life. Anxiety is a sense of nervousness or fear and can accompany situations such as the first day at a new school or job, or when going on stage to perform in front of an audience. While feelings of anxiety are perfectly normal every now and again, some people suffer from anxiety more regularly than others and, when the feelings of fear or nervousness do not subside, they can become an anxiety disorder.

When anxiety starts to take over a person's life, it can become an everyday problem that needs to be addressed. It is difficult to tell when anxiety has crossed the line from being a normal reaction to a stressful event to being a mental health disorder. There are many different types of anxiety disorder; below we have listed just a few examples.

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Generalised anxiety disorder, or GAD, occurs when a person suffers from prolonged anxiety. They are described as constant worriers mainly because that every time they resolve one issue, they will instantly begin worrying about something else. The person might suffer from an inability to concentrate or focus and may experience racing thoughts. GAD sufferers will worry excessively about particular issues but their level of concern may be disproportionate to the degree of risk involved. GAD can interfere with quality of sleep and can affect a person's ability to hold down a job or have a healthy relationship.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder causes individuals to suffer brief attacks of intense fear, apprehension or nervousness. These panic attacks can cause symptoms such as nausea, confusion, trembling or breathing difficulties. Panic disorder is commonly diagnosed when the sufferer cannot identify the triggers or when they suffer chronic side effects such as constant fear or worry of future attacks, or when their behaviour changes because of the attacks. This constant fear of an attack can often be the trigger for attacks, meaning that it is almost a vicious circle.
  • Phobias: Phobias are intense fears of something, even if there is no danger posed. Those who suffer from phobias experience anxiety and fear when faced with a specific There may be no apparent logic to the fear and many sufferers know that their fear is disproportionate to the danger posed, but they cannot control their emotions. Individuals can have phobias about absolutely anything, from spiders to flying to blood.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, occurs when a person becomes obsessed with a particular thought or image that continually enters their mind. They have no control over these thoughts or images and they may be compelled to carry out a specific action to relieve the anxiety caused by them. OCD sufferers often believe that something bad will happen if they do not do certain things, and even if they know deep down that their behaviour is illogical, they find it almost impossible to stop what they are doing. It could be that they have to regularly check to see if an electrical appliance has been switched off or to continue wiping a worktop for fear of contamination.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, occurs after a traumatic event or extreme situation. Many post-war soldiers suffer from PTSD and it can also affect survivors of accidents, natural disasters and victims of sexual abuse. Those who suffer PTSD may experience symptoms such as anxiety, flashbacks, depression, and hypervigilance.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

The symptoms of anxiety disorder will vary depending on the type of disorder as well as its severity. Below we have listed a few of the more common symptoms of anxiety disorder:

  • feelings of intense dread or panic
  • being extra alert to situations going on around you and constantly feeling on edge
  • having difficulty sleeping
  • being unable to concentrate
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flushes
  • rapid breathing
  • fainting or dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • pins and needles.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

There is no exact cause of anxiety disorder, so it is hard to know why some individuals are affected while others are not. However, there are a number of factors that can affect the risk, including:

  • diet
  • everyday habits and lifestyle
  • past experiences
  • physical and mental health
  • medication

It is easier to identify the cause of some anxiety disorders such as PTSD, whereas the cause of GAD may be harder to recognise. Some experts believe that anxiety is a learned behaviour in early childhood while others think that anxiety is inherited.

Everyday lifestyle can affect anxiety and how people feel. For example, those who tend to have stressful jobs and who work long hours may be more likely to experience feelings of anxiety. Money and relationship problems can also cause feelings of anxiety.

Those with poor diets and/or who consume large quantities of sugar or caffeine may also be more likely to experience symptoms similar to those experienced by anxiety sufferers.

Long-Term Impact of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders have long-term consequences and can include depression and problems sleeping. A lower immune system is another side effect of anxiety disorder and this can lead to those affected being more susceptible to illness and disease.

Other long-term consequences include a change in sex drive and addiction to substances such as alcohol or drugs in a bid to cope with the anxiety. Anxiety disorder affects the ability to maintain healthy relationships and jobs. In short, an anxiety disorder can affect every aspect of everyday life.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorder

There are many treatments available for anxiety disorder; here at Recovery Lighthouse, we understand that treatment depends on the type and severity of the disorder. We look at each individual's circumstances and preferences before recommending a specific treatment plan.

We know that anxiety disorder often accompanies other problems such as depression or substance abuse and we understand that these illnesses may need to be treated first. Treatment for anxiety disorder may include cognitive behavioural therapy, applied relaxation therapy, medication, and group therapy.

Recovery Lighthouse has a team of experienced counsellors and advisors ready to assist clients in dealing with their anxiety disorders. Our aim is to ensure that all clients can overcome their problems in a calm and relaxing environment with the support and help they need.

If you are worried about a loved one, or if you are struggling with an anxiety disorder yourself, let Recovery Lighthouse help you. We are here to provide you with the tools you need to learn to live an anxiety-free life.

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