Anxiety – Types, Causes, And Treatment

We have all felt anxious at some time, whether we call it feeling uneasy, on edge or uptight. It is perfectly natural to feel anxious and, in fact, to some degree it can have good effects such as toning us up for a big match or sharpening awareness for interview or exam.

But some forms of anxiety are not as healthy as others. If you get mildly worked up before an exam, that can be beneficial. However, if you cannot sleep well the night before, or begin to sweat profusely and feel nauseated as you enter the examination hall, this sis a more serious anxiety attack and if you find that this is part of a continuing pattern, you should seek help.

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Our reaction to stress is an inbuilt survival mechanism that originally enabled us to act instantly when our lives were threatened. To prepare for action, the heartbeat strengthens to pump blood to all the muscles, and blood pressure rises.

When action has been taken and the danger is over or the problem resolved, the body relaxes and returns to normal once more. But when the threat is low-level and continuous as is common in the emotionally stressful situations of modern living, often no direct action can be taken to deal with it and the body will suffer the effects of long-term tension. Secondary symptoms can develop; these can include skin rashes, spots, weight problems (under or overweight). Strangely enough, those suffering from anxiety can also experience either increased aggression or the reverse effect, becoming completely inhibited, withdrawn and even extremely depressed.

KINDS OF ANXIETY

Anxiety takes many forms. Some have obvious causes, as a fear of dogs in someone who was bitten or frightened by one as a child. Other forms are not so clear and may include anxiety about a relationship which can make you sexually impotent or frigid. Occasionally the anxiety takes an unspecific form, such as sudden, unexplained panic on the way to the office or a sense of general hopelessness, about the state of the world (called ‘angst’).

CAUSES OF ANXIETY

There are two main theories about the causes of anxiety. The first holds that it is due to a personality disorder that makes our psychological defences unable to work in the way they should. In other words, instead of recognizing the anxiety symptoms and dealing with them, the sufferer turns the symptoms into a pattern – one that is often self-destructive.

The second theory claims that there is a failure in some physical function, especially in the nervous system. This may be due to an imbalance of chemicals in the body. Supporters of this theory believe that these ‘malfunctions’ can be cured by effective and painless drug therapy.

Thirdly, some theorists suggest that the causes of the problem are much simpler than either of these facts, is merely a result of modern life: the widespread loss of social and ethical values and a response to conditions over which we no longer feel we have any control.

TREATMENT OF ANXIETY

It is possible to try and cope with anxiety on your own. The first thing to do is to recognize and accept the symptoms and try to discover and face the causes.

But, if this self-help process is not enough – and not even with the aid of family and friends – it is best for you to consult the doctor. The doctor may refer you to psychotherapist who will help you discover and cope with the causes. This treatment may be carried out either in individual sessions or in the company of other anxiety sufferers in group psychotherapy.

Many doctors are suggesting alternative therapies, the purpose of most of them being to help you relax and gain a greater self-awareness. These may include yoga, breathing exercises, biofeedback or even meditation.

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Alternative Therapy: Yoga, An Ancient Technique in Treatment of Panic and Anxiety Disorder

Yoga as an integrated form of exercise may be used for treatment of panic and anxiety disorder in combined with standard treatment.

Panic and anxiety disorder is a mental condition characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks. of sudden periods of intense fear inducing palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness, or a feeling that something really bad is going to happen.

Yoga, the ancient technique practice for harmonized external and internal body well beings, through breath control, meditation, bodily movement and gesture… has been best known for people in Western world and some parts in Asia due to health benefits reported by various respectable institutes’ research and supported by health advocates.

In the study of total of 20 subjects diagnosed with panic disorder, randomly assigned to both experimental groups: Group 1 (G1-Yoga: 10 subjects) attended yoga classes and Group 2 (G2-CBT + Yoga: 10 subjects) participated in a combined intervention of yoga practice followed by a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) session, researchers filed the following results:

1. Both group displayed a statistical analysis in reduction of anxiety levels associated with panic disorder, panic-related beliefs and panic-related body sensations

2. The combination of yoga and CBT (G2) showed a better reductions in all observed parameters in compared to only yoga group.

Dr. Vorkapic CF, the lead author, after taking into account of other con-founders said, “… improvements in different mental health parameters after the practice of contemplative techniques alone or combined to psychotherapy” and “(Understanding) joining psychological and physiological variables could help better elucidate the mechanisms through which mind-body practices work to improve mental health”.

Other, in the review of literature published on quality of life in panic disorder from 1980 to 2010 on database of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and PubMed, indicated that yoga intervention in combination of standard treatment may ameliorate substantial quality of life impairments in panic disorder, improve mental and physical health… and be used as post-treatment in enhanced quality of life (QOL) in these group of patients.

Dr. Davidoff J, the lead author went even further to suggest, ” understand the nature of comorbidities in panic disorder (PD) as well as to determine whether additional interventions that have been studied in other psychiatric disorders, such as exercise, meditation, yoga, humor, massage, and nutritional supplements, can be utilized to improve QOL in PD to normal community levels.

Interestingly, in the review of literature published on PubMed in English up to December 2012 to evaluate the effect of complementary and alternative therapies in panic and anxiety disorder, researchers also found that

1. Data based illustrated that depression evidence base is significantly larger than anxiety disorder

2. Yoga was considered as levels 3 line of treatment of patients with panic and anxiety disorder due to the quality of available evidence.

Taking altogether, there is no doubt that yoga may be considered as an adjunct exercise in combined with standard therapy for treatment of panic and anxiety disorder.

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