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Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences in a lifetime. What is more, this feeling is usually caused by the tensed and changeable rhythm of life. Many people feel anxious or nervous when facing some problems at work, before taking a test, while making an important decision, or having a new date. Danger, unexpected events, like an accident or death of the loved one, can provoke a panic attack, as well. In addition, an alarm occurs when the source of danger is uncertain, or when a person feels helpless in the presence of challenge. An exaggerated reaction that does not meet the level of threat is defined as anxiety. In other words, it is a signal of impending changes in the body or the outside world, and in this regard, it fulfills an adaptive function. All healthy people can experience anxiety in a state of danger or stress. In such moments, the alarm is a normal defense mechanism. However, if panic increases intensely, it will undoubtedly spoil the life of a vulnerable person turning into pathological anxiety. The diagnosis becomes evident, when such symptoms as tension, anticipation, weakness, discomfort are accompanied with some typical objective characteristics such as rapid breathing, dry mouth, tightness in the chest, muscle tension, sweating of the palms, palpitation, feeling sick, dizziness, trembling, etc. Another typical example is people that are worried and pale all the time and have a wry face. Common signs of anxiety can also be the intrusive imagery, thoughts and memories, nightmares, state of awareness, inadequate consciousness of self, or environment (syndrome of depersonalization and derealization).

Anxiety can be situational and endogenous, paroxysmal, or continuous. What is more, the disease includes some emotional symptoms: clouded sensorium, feeling of insecurity, the worst hypothesis, irritation, and aching void. The case is diagnosed as an Anxiety Disorder when it becomes so severe that it begins to interfere with life.

Based on clinical practice, clinical trials, and epidemiological data, anxiety is deemed a temporary condition. Actually, it lasts not for a long time. Even the most severe anxiety does not pose risks to life. There was nothing mentioned in the history of medicine about serious complications in the body or fatal cases caused by the anxiety disorders. On the contrary, doctors noted that patients with such diagnosis were usually physically strong and got the internal diseases very seldom. However, the constant anxiety might occur because of the personal characteristics or any mental impairment. It has become possible to develop diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders, investigate their prevalence, and analyze clinical and social implications. While on the subject of prevalence, it is worth mentioning that anxiety disorders strike about 18.1% of Americans that are over 18 years of age. “Nearly 15% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime”. In comparison, only approximately 6.7% of the U.S. adults suffer from general depression. Anxiety and depression are interrelated, however. The common symptoms are insomnia, worry, discomfort, and general somatic indications. Some time ago, psychiatrists considered pathological anxiety as a type of depression and offered to treat anxiety disorders according to the rules of the depression therapy. Currently, anxiety disorders are in a separate category, and their treatment methods differ from the depression therapy. To demarcate these two diagnoses, it is necessary to consider that the main signs of depression are sadness, low mood, sense of guilt and suicidal thoughts followed with psychomotor retardation and feeling of pleasure inability. The symptoms of anxiety disorder have indications such as fear, panic attacks, bashfulness, and frank agoraphobia. It is very important to start treatment in both cases of illness.

Definition of anxiety disorder type depends on the course of the disease. Panic disorder is accompanied by the unexpected attacks of fear that can repeat with time and are absolutely unpredictable. Palpitations, sweating, weakness, chest pain, fear of death, and upset stomach accompany this type of disorder. Panic attacks cause a feeling of unreality, impending doom, or lack of control. People take a panic attack for a heart attack or a brainstorm and believe that they are about to die. Consequently, such people become very abashed and self-conscious. Having experienced a panic attack in some place or situation, people can start avoiding the areas where it had happened. Some people’s lives become so restricted that they start to avoid daily pursuits, for example, stop going to the groceries or drive a car. Such a condition is called agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces. Another type of disorders is obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD). People suffering from OCD are experiencing repetitive, intrusive, unpleasant thoughts and rituals (compulsions) for controlling the anxiety, caused by these thoughts. For example, if a person is obsessed with a fear of someone intruding the house, he or she often closes and checks the locks repeatedly before going to bed. Another example is a person’s obsession with the existence of bacteria in the environment. This obsession is performed through washing hands all the time. “People with OCD perform rituals so repetitively that their behavior distresses them and can interfere with the performance of everyday tasks”. Carriers of this syndrome are often extremely embarrassed about it and keep it a secret from others. OCD usually responds well to medical treatment and to specific types of psychotherapy based on the principle of pushing the patient to the situations that cause them fear and anxiety. Because of this therapy, patients are less sensitive to the painful situations. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a result of a severe event associated with physical harm or a threat of physical violence. A person suffering from PTSD is, in most cases, the victim, a relative or friend of the abused or witness of violence against someone from the family or strangers. “Some people who experience traumatic events have severe symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, being very easily startled or scared, or feeling numb/angry/irritable/distracted”. Diagnosis of social phobia, called social anxiety disorder, is made when people become overly anxious and shy or tensed in common social situations. Social phobia can be presented through the intimidation of a specific situation: fear of talking to people, eating, or drinking in front of others, or going to the board, etc. Physical consequences that are caused by social phobia are sweating, blushing, nausea, trembling, and difficulty in speaking. Social phobia can be successfully treated with medication or some form of psychotherapy. Specific phobia is another type in the anxiety disorders classification. It is a strong fear of different things that do not really represent any danger. Heights, moving stairways, tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, dogs, fear of closed spaces, and blood are some of the most common specific phobias. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a strong and chronic worrying about ordinary events. People suffering from the disorder are in constant foreboding and overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes, the idea that they have to find the ways for surviving all the time causes them anxiety. This worrying may last for approximately six months and make people waking all the time. It is also difficult to center on something and engage in the routine activities while suffering from this disease. Physical symptoms that often accompany anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficult swallowing, trembling, convulsions, irritability, sweating, nausea, dizziness, frequent need to urinate, dyspnoea, flushing.

Treatment of anxiety disorders takes much time, persistence, and creativity. While choosing the right treatment, one must consider that anxiety disorder leaves its mark when not cured. It might transform into chronic condition of the body, depression or generalized form of anxiety. Gastric ulcer of a stomach, hypertensive disease, irritable bowel syndrome and other cases can be the consequences of disregarding the anxiety disorder.

The main approaches to the treatment of anxiety disorders are cognitive behavioral therapy,

behavioral therapy, and drug therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy includes the techniques that modify thought patterns influencing anxiety and fear. Besides, this kind of therapy involves teaching methods of psychological work in anxiety coping.

Behavioral therapy uses diaphragmatic breathing exercises that teach people how to control physical signs of anxiety. This kind of treatment relies on small exposures to the frightening trigger. It helps people to overcome their fears.

Drug therapy is often used in combination with psychotherapy. This kind of treatment manages biochemical and psychological abnormalities that produce anxiety including alterations in the levels of serotonin and cortisol (the stress hormone).

In most cases, combination of psychotherapy, medications, and other progressive methods of treatment is the most beneficial for people with severe anxiety disorders. If any signs of anxiety disorder appear, it is important to consult a specialist as soon as possible. Family and friends of the people afflicted with anxiety disorder should attempt to be understanding and encourage their loved ones to seek treatment for this complicated illness.

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