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Anxiety is a normal emotional experience and everyone will experience some form of anxiety at any point in their life. Public speaking, taking an exam or seeing cockroaches/spiders will make most people anxious. However, we cope by being cautious and prepared. It normally does not interrupt us from doing our daily tasks. Anxiety disorder happens when the feeling of intense fear and distress is overwhelming and it interferes with daily activities.
Types of Anxiety Disorder and its Symptoms
Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions and each has its own unique symptoms. Nevertheless, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common which is constant and excessive fear and worry in situations that is not life threatening.
Three most common types of anxiety disorder are listed below.
1) Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is often characterized by panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear (may include heart palpitations, chest pain, pounding heart, shortness of breath, choking, sweating, trembling, dizziness and stomach upset).
2) Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People with GAD are excessively worried about their everyday life, making them unable to go about their daily routine. They will also feel nauseous, and have bad headaches. They often find it difficult to complete their daily routine and lose concentration.
3) Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety and fear of being judged, negatively viewed, embarrassed, fearful or rejected in social or performance situations. It should not be confused with feeling shy. People with social anxiety disorder will avoid taking part in conversations, participating in classes or activities and will eventually isolate themselves from public.
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- Very self-conscious when there’s people around and fear of being judged, embarrassed or rejected
- Highly anxious being around people and finding it hard to blend in or to start a conversation
- Difficulty in making new friends or maintaining friendships
- Nausea or sick to the stomach feeling when being around people
- Avoid places with people
- Worry about an upcoming event where other people will be attending
Causes of Anxiety Disorder
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1) Genetics: Research shows that some families will have higher than average numbers of members experiencing anxiety issues. Anxiety disorders runs in families.
2) Environment: An unhappy, stressful or traumatic event such as violence, attack, abuse or death of a loved one is often linked to the development of anxiety disorder.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Certain physical health conditions such as overactive thyroid or low blood sugar can worsen anxiety disorder symptoms. Healthcare professionals will normally evaluate through physical examinations, tests and interviews before referring patients to a mental health professional. A mental health professional will do a thorough mental health check-up as anxiety disorders often co-exist with other related conditions such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The types of treatments may vary for each individual and will be advised by your mental health professional. Treatments are largely similar to depression treatments, such as psychotherapy, medication, stress management and finding relaxation techniques to combat stress.
Dr. Khairi Rahman
Ms. Usha Ponnudurai
Ms. Sarah Zehan