From past few months I have been feeling weird. The nervousness and restlessness is something I am unable to explain, sometimes it is for a brief period or sometimes much longer. Some situations make me feel blank and my hands and feet become cold and clammy. This feeling is so uncomfortable and unpleasant that I don’t know what to do.

Sometimes my heart starts beating fast, that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had. I visited my family doctor for the same, I get my blood pressure checked on a regular basis. They say everything is normal but how come I don’t feel normal?. I feel fearful of varied situations and places, I feel fearful to step out of the house, scared that something might happen to me. What if I don’t receive help? What if people mock me?. I miss leading a normal regular life, I wish I had friends I could share with but I don’t know whether I will ever be able to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.

After a couple of months, I consulted another doctor who asked me to see a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist referred me to a psychologist. The psychologist diagnosed anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder involves excessive fear or worry of people/situation/event/object or place. Anxiety attack is often misinterpreted with physical condition like blood pressure or heart attack. Medicines helped in controlling my physical symptoms symptoms and eased my discomfort. Once the symptom of an anxiety attack is settled I feel as if everything is normal but I also know it’s not the same as before.

The symptoms of anxiety disorder are:

Physical Symptoms Psychological Symptoms
Cold sweat Trouble listening and concentrating
Dry mouth Distracted thinking
Restlessness Overthinking
Trembling/ shaking Negative thoughts
Inconsistent or blur speech Avoiding People Situations
Pale face Self-occupied
Shortness of breath Stomach Sickness

Psychological and emotional concerns affects one’s sleep, diet and social involvement too.

We all have experienced anxiety some or the other time in our lives like before giving an interview, exam or presentation.

People with Anxiety disorder experience such condition frequently or specific to particular people/situation/event/object or place which does not allow them to lead life normally. The anxiety symptoms are severe and the symptoms interfere with their day-to-day life. Worry and fear is constant and overwhelming.

Anxiety Spectrum/Types of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder includes various conditions like

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

    Sometimes there is no specific cause for a person to worry about things in their life. This then tends impact their emotional and physical wellbeing. A more general and scattered nature of anxiety is what leads to the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

  • Phobias

    Phobias can be defined as irrational, debilitating and excessive fear for an object, animal, situation or place. These are more severe than fears where the danger is often perceived as unrealistically threatening.

  • Panic Disorder

    It is an intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within 10 minutes or less and then begin to subside.

  • Social Anxiety

    Social anxiety is characterized by fear of social interactions and situations. A person has a fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated or offending someone. This inhibits them for attending important social events and could also make them withdrawn and isolated. This type of anxiety holds people back in many ways for achieving and doing things that they want to do.

  • Separation Anxiety

    Separation anxiety is an excessive fear of losing or getting harmed by the major attachment figure and it interferes with or limits an adult’s daily life functioning in a variety of ways.

  • Retroactive jealousy

    It involves obsessive thoughts about partner’s past sexual encounters. Retroactive jealousy could lead to making a pleasant relationship turn sour resulting into divorce or break-ups.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    In OCD people exhibit compulsive behavior in particular form to deal with anxiety provoking situation. OCD comes in various themes- checking, repeating, cleanliness, organizing and obsessive thoughts.

  • Substance induced Anxiety

    Overuse or mix of different substance or alcohol overuse also leads to increased anxiety, palpitations and other symptoms.

Causes of Anxiety

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

    Sometimes there is no specific cause for a person to worry about things in their life. This then tends impact their emotional and physical wellbeing. A more general and scattered nature of anxiety is what leads to the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

  • Traumatic experience or exposure

    One cannot always gauge or predict the arrival of an incident that can leave deep psychological imprints of a person’s mind. Sometimes exposure to certain traumatic events can change the way a person functions or things about certain things in life. This can lead to irrational thoughts and fears and hence lead to anxiety.

  • Drug or alcohol withdrawal

    Abstaining from alcohol after prolonged use may come with its side effects, withdrawal symptoms induces higher level of anxiety periodically until it wears off.

  • Future security or anticipation

    Worrying about future like finance, security, stability, loneliness etc. may lead to anxiety.

  • Stress buildup

    Dealing with ongoing stress itself may cause lots of worry and often person starts responding to stress causing event or people in anxious manner.

  • Personality

    People who are born with anxiety traits may find anything out of their comfort zone or minor change in comfort zone anxiety producing.

  • Undisciplined or sedentary habits

    Fast paced lifestyle and unhealthy eating and routine may provoke unwarned anxiety over a period of time.

  • Genetic or Biochemical factor

    Changes in brain chemistry due to medical factors, age, biological changes can lead to anxiety attacks.

  • Medical or medicine induced Anxiety

    Sometimes a person’s medical issues that cause a serious health condition can lead to other significant stresses related to finances, long term dependency on someone or general side effects of medication. Overall, this can lead to great amount of stress and anxiety.

  • Work stress

    Work life is a prominent part of any person’s life. It can cause distress due to burnout, confidence issues, performance anxiety and can also sometimes spill over personal life and cause distress related to work-life balance, lack of quality time, not being able to spend time with family and friends, etc.

  • Bullying and Harassment

    Bullying is nowadays more common and prevalent due to the advent of social media. Bullying is about a person asserting power over the other. A bully can also taunt, mock and even physically attack the other person. In a formal space, bullying can be more subtle but still very impactful like taking undue advantage of someone or being overly harsh and critical when giving feedback.

  • Childhood trauma

    Childhood trauma is talked about a lot in popular culture. It is fortunately now a well-known fact that the impact of negative experiences in childhood can shape someone relationship and quality of life as an adult. Most of the work in therapy revolves around childhood trauma and definitely it can be a major cause of anxiety.

Anxiety disorder is one of the common mental disorders and can be treated with medication and therapy. Medication gives relief from physical symptoms of anxiety.

Therapy predominantly deals with causes to cure the problem on a long term basis. It has proved to be an effective mode in dealing with anxiety. Therapy takes in to consideration all elements like thoughts, emotions and behaviors and either deal with each element separately or in combination. No matter what the cause is, therapy and counselling for Anxiety is readily available nowadays with well-researched techniques for different types.

Anxiety Counselling Process

  • History taking

    It helps in understanding base, triggering events/situation and severity of the response.

  • Relaxation

    Various relaxation techniques helps in controlling and settling anxiety , which further helps to deal with emotional and conceptual element rationally. Relaxation also helps in dealing with disturbed sleep cycle. Relaxation sessions vary from case to case depending on the severity and response pattern of the client. But, generally 2 sessions are helpful to deal with physical and behavioral symptoms.

  • Triggers

    Once the anxiety is controlled and settled, client and therapist again re-work on the triggers and eliminate unhealthy, unproductive thought patterns.

  • Thought and emotion rationalization

    This step helps in dealing with thoughts and emotions in more detailed manner and formulate a technique that would suit the client’s response and dealing pattern to come out with positive outcome.

  • Dealing with facts

    There are situation which are factual or true in nature but occurrence of the same has left us frightened and anxious. Somewhere our world or particular area of our life comes to a halt which starts affecting us and significant others in many ways. Therapy can work best as Anxiety Treatment by helping the person in exploring coping mechanisms to deal with such situations.

In addition to therapy, few lifestyle modifications are also incorporated to achieve desired results and sustain improvement on long-term basis.

The number of sessions required dealing with anxiety and each stage of anxiety depends from person to person, severity of the concern and how a person approaches or deals with such situations.

Anxiety Counselling Outcome

  • Better understanding of self and the response pattern
  • New perspectives of present stressful events
  • Healthy coping strategies regarding expected or anticipated stresses
  • Improved mental and emotional strength in dealing with future stressful events
  • Developing healthy lifestyle habits

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