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What is Anxiety?

Some people would say that anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion. Others say that is just feeling stressed or worried. However, if a person regularly experiences disproportionate levels of Anxiety, it can cripple his or her ability to live happily.

anxiety disorder
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as a condition where a person feels fear, nervousness, and apprehension in a certain situation. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. It is also the most common health condition.
If your feelings of anxiety are persistent or extreme or last longer than 6 months, interferes with your life and makes it hard for you to cope with life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

What are the Causes of Anxiety?

Environmental

Environmental factors such as stress from a personal relationship, job, school or financial predicament can contribute to anxiety disorders.

Genetics

People who have a family member who experiences anxiety may have a genetic tendency towards anxiety. These conditions may sometimes run in the family.

Medical factors

Medical conditions may increase and can lead to an anxiety disorder such as the side effects of medication, stress from an underlying medical condition or symptoms of diseases. It may not directly trigger the changes seen in anxiety disorder but might be causing significant lifestyle adjustments, pain or restricted movement.

Brain chemistry

Traumatic and stressful experiences and genetic factors can alter brain structure and function to react more vigorously to triggers that would not previously have caused anxiety. Many anxieties and mood disorders define anxiety as disruptions to hormones and electrical signals in the brain.

Withdrawal

The use or withdrawal from an illicit substance and stress of day to day living can also serve as key contributors to an anxiety disorder.

Substance abuse

Alcohol and substance abuse can contribute and aggravate anxiety conditions particularly when the effects wear off.

Other mental health conditions

Other people may experience multiple anxiety conditions or other mental health problems. Those who have depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.

Personality

Research says that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety. Let us say, children who are perfectionists, timid, easily flustered, inhibited, lack self-esteem or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety during childhood, adolescence or as adults.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Some symptoms of anxiety conditions are not obvious as they often develop slowly over time. Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
• Feeling nervous, restlessness or tense
• Sense of impending panic, danger or doom
• Increased heart rate
• Hyperventilation
• Trembling and Sweating
• Feeling weak or tired
• Trouble thinking or concentrating on anything other than the present worry
• Sleep difficulties
• Having gastrointestinal problems
• Difficulty controlling worry
• Having the need to avoid things that trigger anxiety

Types of Anxiety

GAD

Someone who has a generalized anxiety disorder feels excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason for a period of six months or more.

Specific Phobias

If a person feels intense fear of a specific object or situation, he or she might have a specific phobia and may go to great lengths to avoid it.

Social anxiety

People who have social anxiety feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. Also, they have an intense fear of being criticized, embarrassed or humiliated.

Panic disorder

This is characterized by repeated episodes panic attacks. A person may feel impending doom, chest pain, shortness of breath, and pounding heart.

Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder

Post Traumatic Syndrome can happen to a person after he or she experiences a traumatic event such as war, accident, assault or disaster. The symptoms include upsetting dreams, difficulty relaxing, flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. This disorder is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least one month.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

This disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. An example of obsession is a repeated unwanted violent fantasy meanwhile; repeated washing of hands is compulsion which is sometimes created in response to an obsession.

Agoraphobia

Someone who has this anxiety disorder is very fearful about certain situations because they fear that they might have a panic attack or something bad may happen. Common things that they are anxious about are using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in a crowd or being in closed spaces.

Selective mutism

Selective is commonly diagnosed in children. This is a severe complex childhood anxiety which is characterized by the inability to speak and communicate in social settings such as schools or with relatives. This disorder usually coexists with shyness or social anxiety.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

People who have this anxiety disorder experience extreme anxiety regarding separation from home, a particular person to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment.

Treatment for Anxiety

Medications
Benzoamdiazepines

In some cases, a doctor will prescribe a Diazepam benzodiazepine to relieve you from symptoms of anxiety. These medications are generally used only to relieve acute anxiety on a short term basis.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants and medications in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) classes are the first line of medication treatments. Some antidepressants used for generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment are escitalopram (Lexapro), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and paroxetine (Paxil).

Therapies

CBT

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a structured psychological treatment which examines how negative thoughts or cognitions and behavior contribute to anxiety. CBT attempts to make changes to replace unhelpful patterns with new ones that reduce anxiety and improve coping skills.

Behavior Therapy

This type of therapy puts emphasis on encouraging activities that are rewarding, pleasant or gives a sense of satisfaction in an effort to reverse the patterns of avoidance and worry that make anxiety worse.

Self-treatment

• Stress/ anxiety management
You can limit potential triggers by managing stress levels. Keep an eye on deadlines and try organizing daunting tasks in to-do lists. Also, Take enough time off from educational or professional obligations.
• Relaxation techniques
Measures or techniques such as long baths, meditation, yoga, inducing deep breathing exercises and resting in the dark can help reduce signs of anxiety.
• Exercise
Having an active lifestyle can improve self-image and trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that stimulates positive or good emotions.
• Support network
Talking to a friend or family member can help you release your stress and problems. As much as possible, avoid storing up and suppressing anxious feelings since it can worsen anxiety disorders.

Foods to eat to Help Reduce Anxiety

Fatty fish
Salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines are high in Omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a strong connection with cognitive function and mental health. Consume at least two portions of fatty fish a week. Salmon and sardines also contain Vitamin D which is effective in improving mood disorders and positively helps in anxiety and depression.
Chamomile
Chamomile tea has been used as a herbal remedy around the world due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and relaxant properties. A study shows that chamomile did reduce anxiety symptoms. Chamomile tea may be useful in managing anxiety symptoms.
Turmeric
Turmeric is a common spice used in South East Asian cooking. It contains an active ingredient called curcumin. Curcumin may help lower anxiety levels by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that often increase in people who are experiencing mood changes, such as anxiety and depression. In addition, one study found that an increase of curcumin in the diet increased DHA levels and reduced anxiety.
Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids. A study suggests that flavonoids may reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain and improve blood flow. Also, chocolate is high in tryptophan content which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.
Yogurt
Yogurt contains good and healthful bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. From a recent clinical review, yogurt and other dairy products may produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Also, research suggests that chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety, stress, and depression.
Green tea
Green tea contains theanine which has anti-anxiety and calming effects and may increase the production of serotonin and dopamine. According to a 2017 review, 200 mg of theanine improved self-reported relaxation and calmness while reducing tension in human trials.
Pumpkin seeds
According to researches, Zinc is important for brain and nerve development. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and potassium which helps regulate electrolyte balance and blood pressure. Consuming foods rich in potassium like pumpkin seeds or bananas may also help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Eggs
Egg yolks are also a great source of vitamin D. It is also an excellent source of complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids for growth and development. Eggs also contain an amino acid which is tryptophan that helps create serotonin.
Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium which improves mood by reducing inflammation. Also, selenium is an anti-oxidant which helps prevent cell damage. It is also anti-carcinogenic, meaning it helps prevent cancer from developing. Mushrooms and soybeans are also an excellent source of selenium. Brazil nuts and other kinds of nuts are also a good source of Vitamin E which is an anti-oxidant that can be beneficial for Treating anxiety.