Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.
Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your daily routine.
For people who have anxiety disorder, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.
All anxiety disorders share some general symptoms: Panic, fear, and uneasiness, sleep problems, not being able to stay calm and still, cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, tense muscles, and dizziness.
Researchers don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders. Like other forms of mental illness, they stem from a combination of things, including changes in your brain and environmental stress, and even your genes. The disorders can run in families and could be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and other emotions.
If you have symptoms, your doctor will examine you and ask for your medical history. She may run tests to rule out medical illnesses that might be causing your symptoms. No lab tests can specifically diagnose anxiety disorders. If your doctor doesn’t find any medical reason for how you’re feeling, she may send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist. Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and testing to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.
For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Evaluation for an anxiety disorder often begins with a visit to a primary care provider. Some physical health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid or low blood sugar, as well as taking certain medications, can imitate or worsen an anxiety disorder. A thorough mental health evaluation is also helpful, because anxiety disorders often co-exist with other related conditions, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. However, like other forms of mental illness, anxiety disorders can be caused by a combination of various things, including genetic and environmental factors.
A recent study has shown that the burden of anxiety disorders is growing at an alarming rate across India. As per a report in The Times of India, the study listed literate and urbanised states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala among top 10 states that have more problems due to anxiety disorders.
Kerala, which witnessed about 420 cases of anxiety disorders each day, was placed on top spot, followed by the northeastern state of Manipur (415), West Bengal (341), Himachal Pradesh (331), Rajasthan (328), Maharashtra and Telangana (326), Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (325), Delhi (322). The data is based on a daily rate of anxiety disorders seen in 2016.
In recent years, a number of research studies have linked anxiety disorders to mortality. Also, a study by the University of Edinburgh published in the British Medical Journal in July 2012 showed that mild mental health problems could be linked to increased risk of death from major causes.
If left untreated, anxiety disorders could progress to depression, which is the leading cause of self-harm and suicides.