Individuals experiencing anxiety may suffer from some of the following symptoms: extreme fear, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, insomnia, nausea, tremors and dizziness. Symptoms of anxiety may be experienced by anyone, from children to adults. There is some evidence that there may be a genetic component to anxiety making individuals more predisposed to experiencing anxiety.
There are several major types of anxiety disorders. Each has unique characteristics and symptoms.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: recurring fears or concerns, feeling that something bad is about to happen. The fears and concerns feel real to individuals.
• Panic disorder: sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread that usually last for minutes, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, tremors.
• Phobias, or intense fears on certain objects or situations. Specific phobias may include situations such as encountering certain animals or flying, whereas social phobias involve fear of social settings or public places. In most cases individuals realize that the fear is not logical or realistic.
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by feelings or persistent, uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and routines or rituals (compulsions) that people do try to avoid or to get rid of these thoughts. Examples of common compulsions include washing hands or cleaning house excessively for fear of germs, or checking something again and again for errors.
• Post-traumatic stress disorder is experienced after a traumatizing event, such as those produced by a natural disaster or an accident or serious crime may experience. Symptoms include: insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance. Symptoms at times may be experienced months or even years after the traumatic experience.
Often anxiety disorders can be treated successfully by mental health professionals. Several studies have shown that both behavior therapy and cognitive therapy can be very effective in treating anxiety disorders. Behavioral therapy targets unwanted behaviors associated with these disorders and introduces behaviors that are more acceptable to the individual. Cognitive therapy assists client in learning about how thoughts contribute to the symptoms or anxiety disorders and how to change those thought patterns to reduce the probability of occurrence and intensity of the reaction.
In conjunction with psychotherapy, adequate and effective medication can play an important role in treatment. In cases where medication is recommended and the client is interested the therapist will refer the client to a physician or psychiatrist. It is important that patients realize that there could be side effects due to the medication and he or she should be monitored by the prescribing physician.