Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. . But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities. This ongoing worry and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or problems sleeping. Often the worries focus on everyday things such as job responsibilities, family health or minor matters such as chores, car repairs, or appointments.
The core symptom of panic disorder is recurrent panic attacks, an overwhelming combination of physical and psychological distress. During an attack several of these symptoms occur in combination:
- Palpitations, pounding heart or rapid heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Feeling of shortness of breath or smothering sensations
- Chest pain
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
- Feeling of choking
- Numbness or tingling
- Chills or hot flashes
- Nausea or abdominal pains
- Feeling detached
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
Because symptoms are so severe, many people who experience a panic attack may believe they are having a heart attack or other life-threatening illness and may go to a hospital .Panic attacks may be expected, such as a response to a feared object, or unexpected, apparently occurring for no reason.
Phobias, Specific Phobia
A specific phobia is excessive and persistent fear of a specific object, situation or activity that is generally not harmful. Patients know their fear is excessive, but they can’t overcome it. These fears cause such distress that some people go to extreme lengths to avoid what they fear. Examples are fear of flying or fear of spiders.
Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing, or help might not be available in the event of panic symptoms. The fear is out of proportion to the actual situation and lasts generally six months or more and causes problems in functioning. A person with agoraphobia experiences this fear in two or more of the following situations:
- Using public transportation
- Being in open spaces
- Being in enclosed places
- Standing in line or being in a crowd
- Being outside the home alone
The individual actively avoids the situation, requires a companion or endures with intense fear or anxiety. Untreated agoraphobia can become so serious that a person may be unable to leave the house. A person can only be diagnosed with agoraphobia if the fear is intensely upsetting, or if it significantly interferes with normal daily activities.
Social Anxiety Disorder (previously called social phobia)
A person with social anxiety disorder has significant anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected or looked down on in social interactions. People with this disorder will try to avoid the situation or endure it with great anxiety. Common examples are extreme fear of public speaking, meeting new people or eating/drinking in public. The fear or anxiety causes problems with daily functioning and lasts at least six months.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
A person with separation anxiety disorder is excessively fearful or anxious about separation from those with whom he or she is attached. The feeling is beyond what is appropriate for the person’s age, persists (at least four weeks in children and six months in adults) and causes problems functioning. A person with separation anxiety disorder may be persistently worried about losing the person closest to him or her, may be reluctant or refuse to go out or sleep away from home or without that person, or may experience nightmares about separation. Physical symptoms of distress often develop in childhood, but symptoms can carry though adulthood.
Primary Remedies of Anxiety
A panic attack that comes on suddenly with very strong fear (even fear of death) may indicate this remedy. A state of immense anxiety may be accompanied by strong palpitations, shortness of breath, and flushing of the face. Sometimes a shaking experience will be the underlying cause. Strong feelings of anxiety may also occur when a person is just beginning to come down with a flu or cold.
This relieves apprehension or stage fright accompanied by agitation and a feeling of hurriedness. A physical sign corresponding to this medicine is stomach aches with belching, due to a slower digestion.
People who are deeply anxious about their health, and extremely concerned with order and security, often benefit from this remedy. Obsessive about small details and very neat, they may feel a desperate need to be in control of everything. Panic attacks often occur around midnight or the very early hours of the morning. The person may feel exhausted yet still be restless—fidgeting, pacing, and anxiously moving from place to place. These people may also have digestive problems or asthma attacks accompanied by anxiety.
This remedy is usually indicated for dependable, solid people who become overwhelmed from physical illness or too much work and start to fear a breakdown. Their thoughts can be muddled and confused when tired, which adds to the anxiety. Worry and bad news may agitate them, and a nagging dread of disaster (to themselves or others) may develop. Fear of heights and claustrophobia are also common. A person who needs this remedy is often chilly and sluggish, has a craving for sweets, and is easily fatigued.
When a person has been exhausted by overwork or illness and feels a deep anxiety and inability to cope, this remedy may help. The person is jumpy and oversensitive, and may be startled by ordinary sounds. Hearing unpleasant news or thinking of world events can aggravate the problems. Insomnia and an inability to concentrate may develop, increasing the sense of nervous dread. Eating, warmth, and rest often bring relief. Headaches, backaches, and nervous digestive upsets are often seen when this remedy is needed.
Individuals likely to respond to this remedy feel anxiety from mental stress and suffer from a lack of confidence. They can be self-conscious and feel intimidated by people they perceive as powerful (yet may also swagger or be domineering toward those with whom they feel more comfortable). Taking on responsibility can cause a deep anxiety and fear of failure, although the person usually does well, once started on a task. Claustrophobia, irritability, digestive upsets with gas and bloating, and a craving for sweets are often seen when this remedy is needed.
People who need this remedy are openhearted, imaginative, excitable, easily startled, and full of intense and vivid fears. Strong anxiety can be triggered by thinking of almost anything. Nervous and sensitive to others, they can overextend themselves with sympathy to the point of feeling exhausted and “spaced out” or even getting ill. They want a lot of company and reassurance, often feeling better from conversation or a back-rub. Easy flushing of the face, palpitations, thirst, and a strong desire for cold, refreshing foods are other indications for Phosphorus.
People who need this remedy often express anxiety as insecurity and clinginess, with a need for constant support and comforting. The person may be moody, tearful, whiny, even emotionally childish. (Pulsatilla is a very useful remedy for children.) Getting too warm or being in a stuffy room often increases anxiety. Fresh air and gentle exercise often bring relief. Anxiety around the time of hormonal changes (puberty, menstrual periods, or menopause) often is helped with Pulsatilla.
This relieves apprehension or stage fright accompanied by a feeling of general weakness, trembling, dizziness, headaches and difficulty to focus and recall memories.
Ignatia amara relieves symptoms caused by stress or emotions, with hypersensitivity to light, noises, pain and emotions. Physical symptoms such as a lump in the throat, localized headaches, and frequent yawning are often present. All symptoms are improved by distraction.
Deep emotions and a self-protective shyness can make these people seem reserved, aloof, and private. Even when feeling lonely, they tend to stay away from social situations, not knowing what to say or do. (Inhibitions sometimes leave completely if they turn to alcohol, which makes them feel embarrassed afterwards.) Easily hurt and offended, they can brood, bear grudges, dwell on unhappy feelings, and isolate themselves—refusing consolation even when they want it. However, they are often sympathetic listeners to other people’s problems. Claustrophobia, anxiety at night (with fears of robbers or intruders), migraines, and insomnia are often seen when this remedy is needed.
Silicea (also called Silica)
People who need this remedy are capable and serious, yet are also nervous, shy, and subject to bouts of temporary loss of confidence. Anxiety can be extreme when they are faced with a public appearance, interview, examination, or any new job or task. Worry and overwork can bring on headaches, difficulty concentrating, and states of exhaustion, oversensitivity, and dread. Responsible and diligent, they often overreact and devote attention to tiny details—making their worries (and their work) more difficult. They often have low stamina and come down with colds, sore throats, or other illnesses after working hard or being under stress.