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By Angela Young
Anxiety has both physiological components and psychological components. Anxiety is different than fear although people often report that anxiety and fear feel the same to them. Fear is the reaction to a present and threat where as anxiety is the reaction to stress or a future event.
Anxiety is a mood that does not seem to have an actual trigger like fear does. Anxiety can help people deal with stressful situations by helping them cope with the situation. When symptoms of anxiety take over a person’s life and become excessive then they are like to have anxiety disorder.
People suffering from anxiety often have unrealistic worry that is out of proportion to what is currently happening in their life. Daily life for people with anxiety disorders becomes one constant worry filled with fear and apprehension.
Symptoms of anxiety can manifest into physical symptoms. The physical symptoms of anxiety include heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and stomachaches.
Anxiety triggers the body to prepare for the stress of a situation, which causes high blood pressure, an increase in sweating, increasing blood flow to the major muscle groups and it inhibits the digestive system. The bodies reaction is instinct based on the flight or fight response mechanisms in the brain.
Panic attacks are another symptom of anxiety. Panic attacks can be serious and debilitating. Some of the physical symptoms panic attacks mimic other issues and may lead people to believe something more serious is occurring, such as a heart attack.
The emotional symptoms of anxiety include feeling dread about something, difficulty concentrating, irritability, jumpiness and restlessness.
For the most part, anxiety is body’s natural reaction to stress and various situations that a person encounters throughout their life. When a person develops and anxiety disorder, however, this is more serious and can have several different causes. There are three main causes of anxiety disorders. They are genetics, brain chemistry and environmental factors.
Family history of anxiety disorders often suggests a predisposition to develop anxiety disorder. While science has not identified a gene that causes anxiety disorder the symptoms of anxiety disorders to tend to run in families.
Brain chemistry as a cause of anxiety disorders involves the malfunction or imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters help process messages in the brain. If there is an imbalance or dysfunction of neurotransmitters can change the way the brain reacts to different situations causing the anxiety.
There are no actual tests available to diagnose anxiety disorders. Typically doctors work to diagnose anxiety disorders by asking a series of questions and learning more about the patient’s family history. Doctors need to know what the symptoms of the patient are and how long the patient has been experiencing the symptoms. Doctors may conduct tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms the patient reports.
The diagnosis of anxiety comes from the intensity of the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms and the amount of interference the symptoms cause in the patient’s life. Symptoms lasting longer than six months or if symptoms are present for more days than they are not during a six-month period, anxiety is generally the diagnosis.
Doctors do not usually treat anxiety in their patients. Usually doctors refer their patients suffering from anxiety to a psychiatrist or psychologist who is has specific training it mental health issues. Treatment is usually a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Using medication to treat anxiety is very useful when the symptoms of anxiety are interfering with the patient’s daily life. Drugs that psychiatrists typically prescribe are in the family of benzodiazepines, which most people refer to as tranquilizers. Some patients may take antidepressants instead of benzodiazepines. The therapy done in conjunction with the medication helps patients to learn how to change the behaviors that lead to the worry. The therapy also helps people to put their worries and anxiety into perspective.
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