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Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion that most of us experience from time to time. Some people worry more than others. However, anxiety that is out of proportion with the situation and takes over our lives, it is an indication that it is time to get some help.

Anxiety is usually triggered by stress. It becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with our day to day functioning. This is referred to as GAD or generalized anxiety disorder. It is characterized by excessive and exaggerated worry. People suffering from this can’t seem to stop worrying about money, children, their health, work etc. It takes over their lives. Sometimes it can be so bad that they stop socializing or meeting other people. This can lead to other problems such as depression, insomnia, difficulties in relationships and alcoholism or drug abuse.

Kinds of anxiety

Anxiety can take various forms. Usually anxiety means worrying excessively accompanied by feelings of restlessness, worry, tension besides the physical symptoms such as headaches, sweating, heart palpitations etc. Sometimes anxiety can take on a more specific form as opposed to general worrying.


Sometimes people suffer from specific phobias such as a fear of closed spaces, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of lizards or even a fear of flying. Such people worry about being in a situation where they may have to face their fears and go to great lengths to avoid it. A large part of their lives may be taken up by worrying about how to handle their phobia.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the urge to repeat a particular action several times. These can range from things like washing the hands repeatedly, touching wood a certain number of times, checking that the door is locked to mental obsessive compulsions like counting. These are acts a person feels compelled to do, often against his will.


Agoraphobia is also a form of anxiety which is associated with people who are afraid of being in a place from where they feel trapped and fear they may not be able to get away. The fear can take extreme forms such as being afraid to travel in a crowded bus or train, fear of standing in a queue, even fear of leaving the house alone. Sometimes agrophobia can even be the fear of going over a bridge. This makes traveling and many other situations difficult for people suffering from this form of anxiety. Agraphobia often occurs along with a panic attack.

Social Anxiety

Some people have a fear of social situations like meeting other people, wondering what to say in a social situation. While many of us may worry about such situations to some extent it is recognized as a disorder when it begins to interfere with your daily life. Such people often feel that everyone is talking about them or staring at them. They may take extreme measures to avoid being caught in a social situation such as attending parties, eating with other people, speaking in public etc.

Panic Anxiety Attacks

Panic attacks are short spells of a feeling of intense fear which is accompanied by sweating, trembling, nausea, feeling of unreality and an increased heart rate. These attacks can occur suddenly and without warning. They usually occur to people who are afraid of losing control of a situation or afraid of something , perhaps death.

Post-Traumatic Anxiety

A severe trauma such as a serious accident, an assault, rape or a major natural disaster can cause this form of anxiety. Such people tend to have recurring dreams about the incident become very agitated and upset when they come in contact with people they associate with the incident or places and objects that remind them about it. They usually try to avoid anything and anyone that brings back memories of that particular unpleasant incident. They often have trouble sleeping and may also suffer from panic attacks when placed in a situation where they are reminded of the traumatic incident.

Symptoms of anxiety

Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety are the feeling of apprehension,trembling, difficulty in concentrating, headache, fatigue, nausea, tense muscles, heart palpitations and sweating. These can be accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhoea, frequent urination, stomach churning and backache. Sometimes these symptoms can be mistaken for a physical ailment like a heart attack or a stroke.

What causes it

No one really knows what causes anxiety. A number of factors may be the cause of anxiety. The Anxiety can be a genetic, which means that if a person has a family history of anxiety he or she is more likely to suffer from it. Environmental factors can also contribute to anxiety. Factors such as the death of a loved one, moving to a new place, changing jobs, relationship problems such as a divorce or a separation or even giving up alcohol or nicotine can trigger off feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety is more common amongst women than men.

Can Anxiety Be Prevented?

  • It is not possible to prevent anxiety disorders but it is possible to reduce the severity of the symptoms. To control the symptoms:
  • Reduction of all products that contain caffeine such as colas, tea, coffee and chocolate.
  • Exercising every day
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid junk food.
  • Certain drugs increase the feelings of anxiety so it a good idea to consult a doctor before taking any kind of medication, even the moist common ones
  • Seek medical counseling when going through a particularly traumatic experience such as a divorce or the loss of a loved one.
  • Avoid situations that increase your feelings of anxiety such as going to crowded places.
  • Meditation and deep breathing can help to alleviate feelings of anxiety.
  • Establish a regular sleep pattern
  • Avoid negative self talk. Learn to be positive.
  • Join a support group
  • If the symptoms persist don’t hesitate to seek professional help

Treating anxiety

Treatment for anxiety is usually a combination of medication and therapy by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

A psychiatrist helps people suffering from anxiety disorders to recognize what leads to the feelings of anxiety. He tries to help his patients to change their thought patterns and look at life more positively.

Medicines that are used to treat anxiety belong to a class of drugs that are known as benzodiazepines. They are often referred to as tranquilizers. They relieve the feelings of anxiety and leave a person feeling calm and relaxed. The medication reduces the physical symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension, headaches, insomnia and restlessness. Some of the commonly

The doctor may also suggest other techniques such as deep breathing and meditation to help a person to relax.


  • MedicineNet
  • The University of Sydney

See Also