Are anxiety disorders affecting your life?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to situations such as examinations, job interviews, heavy traffic, public speaking, etc. Mild anxiety can help you be alert, more focused and prepared, however, anxiety disorders cause distress and stress.

Anxiety disorders can cause symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, shortness of breath, dry mouth, trembling, palpitations and insomnia.

The following are the major kinds of anxiety disorders: (Ref: APA Oct.2008).

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder is accompanied by fears and worries about issues such as health, finances, family members and they have a persistent feeling that something bad is going to happen. The fears and worries prevent concentration on daily tasks.
  • Panic Disorder brings on sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread. The person develops strong fears about when and where the next attack will occur. They may restrict their activities and outings.
  • Phobias are intense fears about certain objects or situations. These may be fear of certain insects, animals, or flying in a plane. Social phobias involve fear of social settings or public places.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the persistent, uncontrollable and unwanted feelings or thoughts (obsessions). The person engages in routines and rituals to rid themselves of these thoughts (compulsions).

Examples include repeated washing of hands, cleaning excessively for fear of germs, checking something over and over again.

  • Post-traumatic stress Disorder occurs when someone suffers severe physical and emotional trauma after an accident, crime or natural disaster. Thoughts, feelings and behavior are affected by reminders of the event sometimes months or years later.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important. If untreated depression can occur, alcohol and drug abuse can start, relationships are affected and work performance is at risk.

Treatment may be a combination of medication and psychotherapy. With close monitoring and adherence to treatment, the anxiety can be effectively controlled.