Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7 NKJV)
Anxiety disorders are conditions that involve unrealistic fear and worry. These disorders could affect adults, teenagers and even kids. Some of these disorders are discussed below:
1. General Anxiety Disorders (GAD): Everyone experiences some anxiety from time to time, but people with GAD have a constant fear with no apparent cause. It could be mild, where it is easily manageable. In some cases, however, it could be debilitating. While people without GED can put normal worries on hold to focus on daily activities, people with GED are distracted by their worries and can hardly think about any other thing else. These people wake up feeling anxious and cannot identify any particular reason for their fears. Anxiety never seems to disappear throughout the day. The worrying sometimes may be so deep that rational thinking maybe non-existent because the anxious feelings are so dominant. Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy and a loss of interest in life are common. Many times, there may be no trigger or cause for these feelings, and the person realises these feelings are irrational. The emotional fear or worry could be quite intense. If a loved one is delayed by 10 minutes, the GAD patient imagines the worst. He may begin to think that the person in question was involved in an accident. He may volunteer to go to hospitals and look for the person. There are physical symptoms associated with this condition. These include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur.
2. Panic Disorder: This is a condition of recurring attack of anxiety or terror. The sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions. In more cases than one, there would have been a long series of medical test conducted with negative results. A panic attack would last for between 15 to 30 minutes. Usually, in between attacks, there are intense periods of anxiety. A panic attack consists of a person feeling extreme fear or discomfort along with at least four of the following symptoms; sweating, rapid heart beating, shakiness, shortness of breath, choking feeling, dizziness, nausea, feelings of unreality, numbness, hot flashes or chills, chest pain, fear of dying and fear of going insane.
What causes anxiety disorders? Anxiety disorders have been widely adduced to a combination of biochemical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors. Most people with anxiety disorders are known to have a biological vulnerability to stress which makes them more susceptible to environmental stimuli. Studies have identified an imbalance of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain can cause anxiety disorders. About 85% of close relatives of people with anxiety disorders may experience a condition giving credence to the impression that there may be a genetic component to the disorders. Psychological and environmental factors like low esteem, poor coping skills, and the history of abuse or domestic violence are conditions that have been found to make people more susceptible to panic disorders.
Treatment of Panic Disorders
These are best treated with a combination of antidepressant drugs and cognitive behaviour therapy. The focus of behavioural therapy is to influence the patient’s negative thinking. This is even more so if there had been an undertone of abuse, violence, low self-esteem. Sufferers are also taught relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, affirmations and program relaxation to get them in the habit of focusing on the present moment rather than on a dreaded outcome.
3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This is a form of anxiety that develops after exposure to a terrifying event or situation in which grave physical harm had occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events associated with this condition include military troops who had served in wars such as the Gulf War or rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters like the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC. Post-traumatic stress disorder may also call in cases of violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused This condition is frequently found in survivors of accidents especially such that had involved loss of lives, rape, or armed robbery. It is not unusual that the Chibok Girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorist and released after negotiations between the government and the militia would suffer from PTSD. PTSD can occur in different age groups including children and adolescents. People living with PTSD are also known to be prone to depression, alcohol and drug abuse. Another form of this disorder known as Complex PTSD (Disorders of Extreme Stress), is found among individuals who have been exposed to prolonged traumatic circumstances in childhood such as childhood sexual abuse. Developmental research is revealing that many brain and hormonal changes may occur because of prolonged early trauma and contribute to difficulties with memory, learning and regulating impulses and emotions. This can also play out in development of severe behavioural problems such as aggression, sexual dysfunction, emotional and mental difficulties. The symptoms associated with PTSD come from reliving the traumatic event. This happens when they are exposed to events objects that serve as sharp reminders of the tragic event. Anniversary of events has been known to trigger symptoms. I have had patients who after many years still experience pain at sites where they had sustained fractures even long after the bones have healed. They claim the symptoms usually come at the anniversaries. There may be physical symptoms such as palpitations, difficulty in breathing, heart missing a beat, et cetera. Other symptoms include insomnia, depression, anxiety and emotional problems.
Treatment for PTSD involves the use of antidepressants, psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.