Anxiety is a psychological state of distress that may be accompanied by physical symptoms. People experience mild anxiety in their everyday routine. It can be linked to multiple causes. Persistent anxiety for a longer duration can be due to an anxiety disorder. If you experience mild anxiety for a short time, relaxing techniques can be practiced to lessen it. Severe anxiety can debilitate a person and make it difficult to perform any task efficiently. It is necessary to seek professional help in such cases.
Multiple factors can cause anxiety in a person. Certain psychological factors can trigger anxiety in a person. History of trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or other distressing events can cause anxiety when facing similar scenarios. A mild level of anxiety can occur due to the stress of completing tasks within a particular deadline, performing well at an exam or presentation, fear of disappointing someone with less efficient work, etc. A certain majority of people also have anxiety related to social factors. Going into large crowds, talking to a stranger, or engaging at social events can make them nervous. Anxiety is also a part of multiple psychological disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc. The presence of an illness or disease can also trigger anxiety. Few of these diseases include diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, respiratory distress syndrome, hypo or hyperthyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. If you are addicted to smoking, alcohol, or any other drug, lack of these agents can also elicit an anxiety response. Alcohol and drug use can cause an imbalance in your brain’s chemical activity, and excessive intake of these things can make you more prone to develop anxiety. Anxiety can also occur as a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, etc.
Anxiety is considered to have a genetic component. If you have a family history of anxiety, you may also find yourself getting anxious as a frequent occurrence. The low financial status of a person can also be a significant risk factor for anxiety. Anxiety is also linked to the personality traits of an individual. If you are an introvert by nature, you may develop anxiety upon exposure to social situations. History of physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse can also lead to anxiety even in later stages of life. The use of alcohol or other drugs is a risk factor. Withdrawal from any of these agents can also contribute to severe anxiety. Stressful situations at work or in personal life can lead to mild anxiety that may become severe at some point. Systemic illnesses, surgical operations, medications, psychological disorders, self-esteem issues, personal insecurities, etc., are a few other risk factors for anxiety. Anxiety has affected a significant portion of the present world. It can develop at any age due to variable factors, although it is more frequently noticed among teenagers and young adults. Anxiety is more prevalent among females than males.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety can vary depending on its cause and severity. General signs and symptoms of anxiety include a feeling of restlessness or being tense, excessive worry, tiredness, lack of concentration, sense of fear or panic, increased irritability, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep pattern, or frequent crying. Severe anxiety can also be accompanied by physical signs and symptoms, including increased heart rate, irregular breathing patterns, palpitations, increased sweating, chills or tremors, dizziness, muscle tension, frequent urination, etc.
Anxiety is mainly diagnosed on a clinical basis. It is done by a psychologist or a psychiatrist specializing in mental health disorders. Your doctor will begin with acquiring a detailed history involving the onset, duration, and severity of your symptoms, medical history, history of smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, history of a traumatic event or major stressors, information about social, financial, and economic status, etc. A clinical exam may accompany this if you present with physical symptoms. Lab tests are not done unless they are required to diagnose an underlying systemic disease.
Anxiety symptoms may be similar to those of other psychological or systemic illnesses such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, atypical psychosis, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, hyperthyroidism, anaphylaxis, etc.
Mild to moderate anxiety can be managed with certain relaxing techniques and breathing exercises. These techniques include meditation, yoga, relaxing bath, etc. Focusing on your surroundings may also help you calm down to some extent. Severe anxiety is treated by psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders. Your therapist guides you about multiple techniques that can be used to diminish anxiety and related symptoms. It is also important to gain support from your family, friends, or loved ones to better manage this condition. Anxiety support groups can also be beneficial. If anxiety is due to an underlying systemic illness, it is essential to diagnose and treat it with suitable treatment options.
Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, etc., are prescribed in patients with severe anxiety. Sedatives such as benzodiazepines may be prescribed in a limited number of cases to relieve anxiety symptoms. These medications should not be used without a prescription, and abrupt withdrawal should be avoided.
Anxiety can be managed well if proper interventions are done. Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, psychotherapy, and meditation can help manage moderate to severe anxiety so you can perform your day-to-day activities in a better way.
Anxiety can occur without a precursor, so there are no established methods to prevent anxiety. However, it can be avoided to some extent by seeking help at an early stage if you went through a traumatic event, talking with your family or friends, exercising regularly, establishing a productive routine, and making out time for yourself to relax and destress yourself.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 11, 2023.