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What is Anxiety Disorder? Types, Symptoms, Causes, & Risk Factors

Learn how to manage your anxiety and what you can do if anxiety is affecting your life
anxiety disorder

Table of Contents

In this article, we will know what is Anxiety Disorder and what are it’s types, symptoms, causes, and risk factors.

Anxiety disorder is a type of mental illness. Anxiety can make it challenging to get through the day. It can cause panic attacks, anxiety, fear, and nervousness. It can also lead to rapid heartbeats and sweating. There are two options for treatment: medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Your healthcare provider can help you design the best treatment plan.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety can be a natural reaction to stress. In some cases, anxiety can even be beneficial. It can help us be aware of dangers and prepare us for them. Anxiety disorders are different from the usual feeling of nervousness or anxiety and can cause excessive fear or anxiety. 

Anxiety disorders, which are the most common mental disorder, affect almost 30% of adults at one time or another. Anxiety disorders can be treated, and there are many effective treatments. Most people can lead productive and everyday lives with treatment.

What is anxiety disorder

Anxiety is the anticipation of future problems and is more closely associated with muscle tension, avoidance behavior, and muscle tension. Everyone feels anxious every now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with an issue at school or work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Occasional anxiety is OK. But anxiety disorders are different. 

It is a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming fear. Excessive anxiety can make you avoid work, school, social situations, get-togethers, and so on, which might trigger or worsen your symptoms. Anxiety disorders can affect job performance, schoolwork, and personal relationships. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There is a variety of anxiety disorders.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Feel excessive worry, unfounded tension, and anxiety with little to no cause.
  • Panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by intense, sudden fear. You may feel as though you are choking or having an attack of the heart.
  • Social anxiety disorder. This is also known as social phobia. It’s when you have an overwhelming fear of social situations and are self-conscious. It is characterized by obsessive worry about being judged or ridiculed by others.
  • Specific phobias. A fear that is intensely linked to a particular object or situation (e.g. flying or heights) This fear may lead to you avoiding situations that are more normal.
  • Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a fear of being trapped in an area where it’s difficult to escape or receive help in an emergency. You may feel anxious or panic when you are on an airplane, on public transport, or waiting in line.
  • Separation anxiety. Little kids aren’t the only ones who feel anxious when a loved one leaves. Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder. It can make you feel anxious and fearful about the possibility of losing someone you love. It’s possible for you to worry about the worst.
  • Selective Mutism. This is a form of social anxiety where young children who speak normally with their families don’t talk in public like school.
  • Medication-induced anxiety disorder. Some anxiety disorder symptoms can be caused by withdrawal or the use of illegal drugs or certain medications.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder 

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry or fear. It can make it difficult to breathe, sleep, concentrate, stay still, or even stay awake. The type of anxiety disorder that you have will determine the symptoms.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Fear, panic, and uneasiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Unable to remain calm and still
  • Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet
  • Breathing problems
  • Hyperventilation (faster breathing)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Tense muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Rumination is a way to keep thinking about the same problem over and over.
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Obsessively or intensely avoiding fearful objects or places

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

There are many causes of anxiety disorders:

What is anxiety disorder
  • Genetics. Anxiety disorders may run in the family.
  • Brain chemistry. Research suggests that anxiety disorders could be related to brain circuits that fail to control fear and emotion.
  • Environmental stress. Stressful events that you have experienced or witnessed. Anxiety disorders are often associated with life events such as childhood neglect and abuse, the death of a loved one, or being attacked by or witnessing violence.
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal. Some drugs can be used to mask or reduce anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Medical conditions. Anxiety disorders can be caused by thyroid, heart, or lung conditions. 

Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorder

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Certain things can increase your chances of developing anxiety disorders. These are known as risk factors. You can’t change some risk factors, while others you can.

  • History of mental health disorder. An anxiety disorder is more likely if you have another mental disorder like depression.
  • Sexual abuse in childhood. Anxiety disorders later in life are often linked to childhood sexual abuse.
  • Trauma. Trauma can increase the likelihood of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can lead to panic attacks.
  • Negative life events. Anxiety disorder can be triggered by stressful or negative life events such as the death of a parent early in childhood.
  • A chronic or severe illness. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one or caring for someone who is sick can cause you to feel overwhelmed.
  • Substance abuse. Anxiety disorders are more common when you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. These substances can also be used to mask or reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • Being shy as a child. Shyness and withdrawal from strangers and places during childhood are linked to social anxiety in teens and adults.
  • Low self-esteem. Negative self-images can cause social anxiety disorder.

Diagnose and Treatment

First, you should see your doctor ensure there are no medical conditions causing the symptoms. A mental health professional can help you find the best treatment if an anxiety disorder has been diagnosed. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders neglect to seek treatment. They are unaware that there are effective treatments for their condition.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Each anxiety disorder is different, but most people respond to psychotherapy or “talk therapy” and medication. These anxiety treatments can be used together or separately. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which is a type of talk therapy, can help someone learn a new way of thinking, reacting, and behaving in order to feel less anxious. 

Although medication cannot cure anxiety disorders, it can help to relieve symptoms. Anti-anxiety medication (generally only prescribed for a brief period) and antidepressants are the most common medications. Sometimes, beta-blockers are used to manage anxiety symptoms.

We hope you now understand what is anxiety disorder and it’s symptoms, types, and treatment. Contact Dr. Neha Mehta if you are experiencing these symptoms of anxiety disorder.

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Dr. Neha Mehta

Dr. Neha Mehta is an RCI registered Psychologist, certified Relationship Counselor, and a well-known Child Psychologist practicing in Haryana. Dr. Neha has 10 years of enriching experience in the field of counseling. She’s an accredited Psychologist by NIMHANS and International Affiliate with American Psychological Association.

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