Fear and Anxiety are probably one of the most basic emotions that we all have experienced at least once in our lives. The response to an unfavorable condition is noticed not just in humans, but in animals as well. It might be short-lived as in an anxiety before delivering a speech or when sitting in a rollercoaster ride or even before an exam or it could be more long-term as regards our work and professional life or personal life.
Certain situations which impact are daily life such as a new job, moving to a new place, going for an interview, decisions of marriage or divorce, fear of losing someone or even being diagnosed with a disease – these situations can be a constant reason for worry and potential causes of long-term anxiety.
Everyday life habits like stress at work or studies, family pressures and money problems can contribute to anxiety. Although anxiety is an unpleasant reaction, it is not a dangerous one. Just like our other emotions, fear, anxiety and panic are a part of our body’s normal reactions.
Anxiety can also be triggered by what you eat. Having an excess of caffeine or sugary foods in the diet to even street drugs, alcohol and certain medications for your mental or physical disorders can make you feel out of track.
Anxiety can occasionally be evident to other people by how we behave or react to our surroundings. Sometimes this anxiety can even take a toll on our daily habits and routine, making us seem incapable of handling even minute pressures of our daily life. It is then, that people often have seen medical professional help to deal with this malignant anxiety.
Many people do not even recognize what this anxiety is. They simply see this feeling as being something wrong with them. They also do not seek proper treatment for it considering it as a mild disorder and partly due to the stigma attached to mental disorders. So what exactly is anxiety and how can you explain anxiety to your doctor?
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a subjective feeling of uneasiness, excessive worry or a fear of something. A lot of people also use the term “Ghabrahat” to explain anxiety to their doctors.
Anxiety is a good response by your body as it releases some amount of adrenalin preparing your body for the “fight or flight” response. Anxiety, in a way, prepares your body for upcoming dangers or adversities in your life. Also, it is often limited to the adverse time and no longer persists after that. In short, anxiety and panic situations help a person to “survive”.
Anxiety, therefore, is a normal bodily reaction to an adverse situation. The symptoms of anxiety turn alarming when they are present even in absence of any stressful condition. This also affects your ability to lead a normal life.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety is differentiated into certain types for the purpose of understanding and treatment. These types are
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Feeling anxiousfore a long period of time without any apparent cause for worry.
- Panic Attacks – Being afraid of an unpredictable situation. Triggering factors are often not identified. Fear of having a panic attack itself can trigger your panic episodes. Panic attacks have a different pattern in different people.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – This type of anxiety has obsessions like negative thoughts, impulsive actions and images that constantly appear in your mind and compulsions repetitive action.
- Phobia – Intense fear of a person, thing or situation. In this case, the triggering object can be something with which you have had a bad experience previously or it could be present without any apparent history.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Flash back of an event which has caused you both physical and mental trauma can trigger anxiety.
What are the Causes for Anxiety?
Both hereditary and environmental factors determine the way in which our body reacts.
- Genetic And Hereditary – Just like we inherit certain physical and behavioral traits from our parents, anxiety and panic are also can be inherited.
- Temperament – Persons having a specific type of temperament are bound to react in a particular way.
- Stress – This factor is known to bring out the worst in some people. It is also associated with depression and anxiety in people.
- Learning From A Previous Bad Experience – Instils fear in the mind of the person. When faced with a similar episode in future, the person experiences anxiety and panic.
- Related to Thoughts About a Situation – When a person has been constantly warned about some bad situation, it instils fear towards that particular situation.
- Amygdala – A component of our brain is responsible for recognizing frightful conditions.
How to Explain Anxiety To Your Doctor?
Certain signs and symptoms can be observed when a person speaks of anxiety. And here are differnt ways to explain anxiety to your doctor.
- Rapid heartbeat and palpitations. This is also felt as a pounding sensation felt in the chest.
- Cold sweating
- Nausea or an uneasy feeling at the pit of the stomach. Occasionally diarrhea may also be present intermittently.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- A feeling o pressure upon the chest and sometimes a feeling oppressed breathing. The tendency to take deep breaths frequently. There may also be a choking sensation present around the neck along with difficulty breathing.
- A feeling of heaviness of legs and tingling and numbness.
- There may be repetitive movements of the hands or legs which the person doesn’t realize. These movements occur only when faced with anxiety.
- Raised blood pressure
- Constantly have negative thoughts
- Unable to concentrate on activities of daily routine.
- Difficulty in developing or maintaining relationships.
The list above shows the commonly observed signs and symptoms of anxiety. It is now quite obvious from the possible list of symptoms above that signs and symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person. Some people may even display a more serious presentation of anxiety.
In order to explain your anxiety to your doctor, it is essential to understand your own pattern of anxiety first. This is to say, to understand how your body reacts to stressful situations. What are the symptoms which always occur when you are anxious or worried? It is equally important to understand which thoughts cause anxiety and to recognize the anxious behaviour. Recognizing and understanding your pattern of anxiety will up to some extent help you to manage your own anxiety.
Some Methods Which Work as Self Help Measures During Anxiety
- Talk to a trustworthy person about it. A third person’s insight often helps to cope.
- Breathing exercises often help to calm you down physically and mentally. Whenever anxious, inhale and exhale slowly and try to relax your body and mind.
- Do something that may shift your focus. Any activity like art and music often deviate your mind.
- Give yourself assurance that even this will pass. Since every dark cloud has a silver lining, similarly there will be better times when this phase passes.
- Take up some sort of a physical activity or exercise. Exercise often refreshes the mind and body.
- Keep a diary to record when you have experience anxiety and what was the cause for anxiety. This will help you understand your pattern of anxiety. Also, it will help you to explain anxiety to your doctor.
- Meditation, yoga, bach flower remedies, reflexology and aromatherapy also help in calming you down to a great extent.
- Self-help tools are available abundantly on the internet these days.
In spite of taking up all these measures, if you are unable to cope up with your panic and anxiety, it would be advisable to seek professional help.
Dr. Himanshi is a Homoeopathic consultant and currently working as a lecturer in Post-graduate faculty of Homeopathy, Parul University, Vadodara. Completed BHMS and MD in Homeopathy in January 2018 and also has a clinical experience of about 6 years. Personal interests include reading, spending time with family and traveling.