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Sorry no actual update this week, as you can see I have been busy building websites, please take a look. I am 52 and have loads of life experience. I've been a computer engineer now for about 20yrs and on a course to become a tutor for adult learners. This is the PTTLS course. My aims in life are ! Make Money Be Happy Help Others and enjoy the rest of my life, hopefully. I like to meet new people and love to chat, anyone is welcome to offer content for my blog or to contact me. Take a look at my online dating site: It's for anyone who wants a short term or long term relationship. One night stands and group parties or even the bizaar, take a look and see.

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Monday, 7 December 2009

What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
These disorders affect how we feel and behave. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, seriously impacting daily life.

People often experience a state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as an examination, recital, or interview. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person's ability to sleep or otherwise function. Anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be expected in a situation. Anxiety comes in various forms as outlined below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterised by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about non specific life events and situations. GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions.
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension leading to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after approximately ten minutes, but they then may last for several hours or a short period. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well. A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness – hyper vigilance followed by hypochondriasis.

A Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias are different from general anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response identified with a specific cause. The fear may be irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results. Stimuli for phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects. For example, agoraphobia occurs when one avoids a place or situation to avoid an anxiety or panic attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterised by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered near impossible.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterised by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive. OCD sufferers usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as rape, hostage situations, or a serious accident. PTSD often leads to flashbacks and behavioural changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by high levels of anxiety when separated from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety.

People with anxiety disorders present a variety of physical symptoms in addition to non-physical symptoms that characterize the disorders such as excessive, unrealistic worrying.
Many of these symptoms are similar to those exhibited by a person suffering general illness, heart attack, or stroke, and this tends to further increase anxiety. The following is a list of physical symptoms associated with GAD:
• Trembling
• Nausea
• Diarrhoea
• Headache
• Backache
• Heart palpitations
• Sweating/flushing
• Restlessness
• Easily tired

Those suffering from panic disorders may experience similar physical symptoms to those with GAD. They also may experience chest pains, a sense of choking and shortness of breath. Flashbacks or nightmares of re-experiencing the trauma
Anxiety disorders may be caused by environmental factors, medical factors, genetics, brain chemistry, substance abuse, or a combination of these. Usually anxiety is a response to outside forces, but it is possible that we make ourselves anxious with a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen.

Environmental factors that are known to cause several types of anxiety include:
• Trauma from events such as abuse, victimization, or the death of a loved one
• Stress in a personal relationship, marriage, friendship, and divorce
• Stress at work
• Stress about finances and money
• Stress from a natural disaster

Anxiety is associated with medical factors such as anaemia, asthma, infections, and several heart conditions. Some medically-related causes of anxiety include:
• Stress from a serious medical illness
• Side effects of medication
• Symptoms of a medical illness
• Lack of oxygen from emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung)

Substance use and abuse
It is estimated that about half of patients who utilize mental health services for anxiety disorders such as GAD, panic disorder, or social phobia are doing so because of alcohol or benzodiazepine dependence. More generally, anxiety is also know to result from:
• Intoxication from an illicit drug, such as cocaine or amphetamines
• Withdrawal from an illicit drug, such as heroin, or from prescription drugs like
Vicodin, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates

It has been suggested by some researchers that a family history of anxiety increases the likelihood that a person will develop it. That is, some people may have a genetic predisposition that gives them a greater chance of suffering from anxiety disorders.

A psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or other mental-health professional is usually enlisted to diagnose anxiety and identify the causes of it. The physician will take a careful medical and personal history, perform a physical examination, and order laboratory tests as needed. To be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a person must:
• Excessively worry and be anxious about several different events or activities on more days than not for at least six months
• Find it difficult to control the worrying
• Have at least three of the following six symptoms associated with the anxiety on more days than not in the last six months: restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating
Generally, to be diagnosed with GAD, symptoms must be present more often than not for six months and they must interfere with daily living, causing the sufferer to miss work or school.
If the focus of the anxiety and worry is confined to a particular anxiety disorder, GAD will not be the diagnosis. For example, a physician may diagnose panic disorder if the anxiety is focused on worrying about having a panic attack, social phobia if worrying about being embarrassed in public, separation anxiety disorder if worrying about being away from home or relatives, anorexia nervosa if worrying about gaining weight, or hypochondriasis if worrying about having a serious illness.
Patients with anxiety disorder often present symptoms similar to clinical depression and vice-versa. It is rare for a patient to exhibit symptoms of only one of these.

Anxiety can be treated medically, with psychological counselling, or independently. Ultimately, the treatment path depends on the cause of the anxiety and the patient's preferences. Often treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, and medications.
Sometimes alcoholism, depression, or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until the coexisting conditions are brought under control.

A standard method of treating anxiety is with psychological counselling. This can include cognitive-behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, or a combination of therapies.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to recognize and change the patient's thinking patterns that are associated with the anxiety and troublesome feelings. This type of therapy has two main parts: a cognitive part designed to limit distorted thinking and a behavioural part designed to change the way people react to the objects or situations that trigger anxiety.
For example, a patient undergoing cognitive-behavioural therapy for panic disorder might work on learning that panic attacks are not really heart attacks. Those receiving this treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder for cleanliness may work with a therapist to get their hands dirty and wait increasingly longer amounts of time before washing them. Post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers will work with a therapist to recall the traumatic event in a safe situation to alleviate the fear it produces. Exposure-based therapies such as CBT essentially have people confront their fears and try to help them become desensitized to anxiety-triggering situations Psychotherapy is another type of counselling treatment for anxiety disorders. It consists of talking with a trained mental health professional, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other counsellor. Sessions may be used to explore the causes of anxiety and possible ways to cope with symptoms.

Medical treatments for anxiety utilize several types of drugs. If the cause of the anxiety is a physical ailment, treatment will be designed to eliminate the particular ailment. This might involve surgery or other medication to regulate a physical anxiety trigger. Often, however, medicines such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, tricyclics, and beta-blockers are used to control some of the physical and mental symptoms.
Anxiety historically has been treated with a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Their use has declined, however, due to their addictive nature. These drugs tend to have few side-effects except for drowsiness and possible dependency. Some common benzodiazepines include:
• Diazepam (Valium)
• Alprazolam (Xanax)
• Lorazepam (Ativan)
• Clonazepam (Klonopin)

Anti-depressants - especially those in the class of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) - are also commonly used to treat anxiety even though they were designed to treat depression. SSRIs have fewer side effects than older anti-depressants, but they are still likely to cause jitters, nausea, and sexual dysfunction when treatment begins. Some anti-depressants include:
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Paroxetine (Paxil)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Escitalopram (Lexapro)
• Citalopram (Celexa)
• Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Tricyclics are a class of drugs that are older than SSRIs and have been shown to work well for most anxiety disorders other than obsessive-compulsive disorder. These drugs are known to cause side-effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and weight gain. Additional drugs used to treat anxiety include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), beta-blockers, and buspirone. MAOIs, such as phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Prate), and isocarboxazid (Marplan), are an older type of anti-depressant that is used to treat some anxiety disorders. These drugs carry with them several restrictions on diet and prevent one from taking other medications such as pain relievers. Beta-blockers, such as propranolol (Inderal), are usually used to treat heart conditions, but they can also treat physical symptoms that accompany some anxiety disorders. Buspirone (Buspar) is another type of medication that affects neurotransmitters to control anxiety but lacks the side effects of sleepiness and dependency. However, it has been associated with dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

This again is not an exhaustive list of symptoms or remedies and a visit to your doctor is most advisable.
With thanks to Greg, here is a link to assist with Social Phobeas.


Greg said...

Interesting post you have here. Social phobia is not easy to overcome. But you can learn from www.whatcausespanicattacks.comabout simple prevention methods. Can be pretty handy.

comprepman said...

Thanks Greg have made a point of putting link in the post

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