The different types of anxiety disorders
With 33.7% of the population experiencing anxiety disorders in their life we need to look at holistic ways to treat this debilitating disorder. It has been shown consistently in the research that women are twice as high as men to get anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder which is mostly treated in an outpatient setting. Anxiety disorders often have co-morbidity with other mental disorders such as depression.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatment options.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to trigger it. People with GAD may feel restless, irritable, and on edge and often have difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks, along with persistent worry about future attacks and a fear of situations from which the person cannot escape. Physical symptoms during a panic attack may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or stomach upset.
Patients with panic disorders often assume they have a medical condition over a mental health condition and are represented in doctors clinics and emergency rooms.
An intense fear of social or performance situations marks social anxiety disorder (SAD). People with SAD may worry excessively about being judged by others or making mistakes, so they may avoid social situations altogether. They may also experience physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, or trembling.
Specific phobias involve intense fear of specific objects or situations (such as flying, heights, animals, and needles). People with phobias often go to great lengths to avoid the thing they’re afraid of.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Common obsessions include fears of contamination or harm, while common compulsions include excessive handwashing, cleaning, and counting. OCD can be highly distressing and disabling, but it is treatable with cognitive-behavioural therapy and/or medication.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, intense feelings of distress when reminded of the trauma, and avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the event.
Separation anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that usually occurs in young children. It is marked by an excessive fear of separation from home or loved ones and can result in physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or difficulty sleeping.
Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being in situations from which escape may be difficult, or help may not be available during a panic attack. People with agoraphobia often avoid public places and stay at home.
Selective mutism is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person does not speak in specific social situations, such as school, even though they may be able to speak normally in other settings.
Finally, body dysmorphic disorder(BDD) is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person becomes preoccupied with perceived flaws in their physical appearance. People with BDD often obsess over minor or imagined defects and may repeatedly seek reassurance from others.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders
Symptoms of anxiety result from overactive threat detection systems in the mind and body. As a result of the alarm system going off and the body being flooded with stress chemicals, you can experience various symptoms. Anxiety disorders can be challenging to treat because it is hard for the body to distinguish a normal sensation from what is dangerous.
Anxiety disorders come in many different forms, each with its own unique set of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
-Feeling restless or on edge
-Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
It’s important to note that everyone experiences anxiety differently—some people may only display a few common symptoms, while others may experience all of them. When you feel like a lion is chasing you, it makes sense that your breathing rate will increase, your heart will race, and your muscles will tense up—and your desire for sleep is probably nonexistent.
To reset the body and refocus the mind on calmness, it’s vital to reduce stress on all fronts: the mind and body must learn they are safe. This can be done with mindful breathing exercises or other techniques that work for each person.
The causes of anxiety disorders
Various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences, cause anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are thought to be caused by an imbalance of the brain’s chemical serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety. Imbalances in serotonin levels are thought to play a role in anxiety disorders.
Certain life experiences like trauma or stress can also trigger anxiety disorders.
Genetics can also play a role in the development of anxiety disorders. Studies have found that some people have a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders.
It is important to note that anxiety disorders are complex and can be caused by any combination of factors.
What we are trying to shift is the anxiety symptoms once we know why they are occurring.
The treatment options for anxiety disorders
Numerous treatment options for anxiety disorders can be tailored to suit an individual’s needs. Psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used to help modify thinking and behaviour concerning anxiousness, while exposure therapy allows a person to confront their fears. Medication such as antidepressants and beta-blockers has also been effective in reducing symptoms.
Moreover, mind-body interventions such as yoga, breathing, mindfulness-based interventions and relaxation exercises are low-cost and low-risk options which can help people take control of what is happening in their bodies, although research is still relatively new in this area.
How breathing helps you reduce anxiety and panic
Dysfunctional breathing is one of the first signs of anxiety disorders. Clinically patients can present with Hyperventilation syndrome, which has anxiety as a symptom. Often it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situtation when it comes to breathing and anxiety. What came first, the breathing dysfunction or the anxiety symptoms?
Either way, we must treat the underlying triggers that keep you in the anxiety spiral. Shifting your breathing to a calm pattern is the first way to break the anxiety spiral. To test if your breathing patterns contribute to your anxiety symptoms, take the simple 3-step test and the Nijmegen Questionnaire to see if you could have Hyperventilation syndrome.
When your breathing gets altered with anxiety, you can start to breathe faster; adapt to use your backup breathing muscles(your scalenes, upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid) instead of your primary diaphragm muscle, where 80% of the work of breathing should come from.
So you see, breathing is a crucial puzzle in solving anxiety symptoms and getting you back in control.
I often recommend my clients practice mindful breathing and deep belly breathing techniques. This can help you reduce your panic attacks and anxiety symptoms. Notice the breath coming in and out, observe it without judgement and be curious about how it changes as you become more relaxed. Start by taking a few slow deep breaths – inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
This type of breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which will help to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase feel good hormones like oxytocin.
So, in summary, breathing is a powerful tool to help you manage anxiety and panic attacks. Whether it’s using mindful techniques or deep belly breathing, simply shifting how you breathe can profoundly reduce anxiety symptoms.
How to deal with anxiety and fear daily
Anxiety and fear are common emotions that people experience daily. There are many different ways to deal with anxiety and fear, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, some general tips can help you to deal with anxiety and fear in your everyday life.
One of the best things you can do to deal with anxiety and fear is to face your fears head-on. This may seem daunting, but it can help you overcome your fears and learn to cope with them healthily. Facing your fears can help you to understand them better and give you a sense of control over them. It is important to remember that you can take small steps when facing your fears – start with something that is not too scary and work your way up from there.
The mind and body can also be rewired by reframing your mindset around your fear with a coach and reshaping your belief in it.
Another helpful tip for dealing with anxiety and fear is to stay positive. This may be difficult when feeling anxious or scared, but it is essential to remember that these emotions are only temporary. Focus on the good things in your life and keep things in perspective. Additionally, staying active and engaging in activities that make you happy can help reduce anxiety and fear.
Getting stuck in an anxiety state can be caused by emotions that hijack us, and we need to learn how to release them. Sometimes you cannot positive the pain away, and you have to learn to sit in the fear, use tools like breathing, and bring the nervous system back to calm during release.
Finally, it is vital to seek professional help if your anxiety or fear impacts your quality of life. A therapist can help you to identify the root cause of your anxiety or fear and develop coping mechanisms to deal with it in a healthy way.
Anxiety and fear can be overwhelming, but there are steps that you can take to help manage them. Taking the time to identify what is causing your anxious or fearful feelings can help you understand how to address them. Additionally, focusing on positive self-talk and engaging in activities like exercise and relaxation techniques can aid in reducing those feelings of unease. With these tips, managing anxiety and fear doesn’t have to seem daunting anymore.
It is important to remember that everyone responds differently to different strategies, so it is important to find out what works best for you. If your anxiety or fear becomes too difficult to manage on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right help and support, it is possible to reclaim your peace of mind and take back control.
If you know that you need support navigating dealing with anxiety and resetting to calm I have several ways I can help.
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