Forty million (18.1%) of the adult U.S. population (age 18 and older) are affected by anxiety disorders. These disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one third of the $148 billion total mental health bill for the U.S. People with an anxiety disorder are 3 to 5 times more likely to go to the primary care physician and 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than non anxious people. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, over 6 million children (13%) suffer from anxiety, making it the most common emotional problem in children. Among adolescents, more girls than boys are affected. About half of the children and adolescents with anxiety disorders also have a second anxiety disorder or other mental or behavioral disorder, such as depression.
Anxiety versus Stress response
Stress response is a direct and individual reaction to a specific event or object, and the person is consciously aware of it. Most people experience fear, if for example, someone points a loaded gun at them or if they see a tornado forming on the horizon. They also will recognize that they are afraid and what are they afraid of. It helps respond appropriately to real danger, and it can help motivate any person to escape from dangerous place or situation.. A typical example of the stress response is if the zebra sees a lion closing in for the kill, the stress response is activated. The escape requires intense muscular effort, supported by all of the body’s systems. In humans the fight or flight response evolved in humans, fight was manifested in aggressive, combative behavior and flight was manifested by fleeing potentially threatening situations. Fight and flight responses can assume wide range of presentations, manifested in angry, argumentative behavior, and the flight response may be manifested through social withdrawal, substance abuse, and even television viewing. Behaviorally, the fight or flight response describes men’s reactions to stressful situations better than women’s. That is, men are more likely to cope with stress via social withdrawal, substance abuse, and aggression. Some researchers believe that these aspects of the fight or flight response in men contribute to their earlier mortality, relative to women. Women are more likely to cope with stress through social support, that is, by turning to others to both give and receive instrumental and emotional aid. This pattern of responding has been called “tend and befriend,” and refers to the fact that during stressful times, women are especially likely to show protective responses toward their offspring and affiliate with others for shared social responses to threat.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is often unfocused, vague feelings, that one hardly can pin down to a specific cause of this very unpleasant condition. Anxiety is often triggered by objects or events that are unique and specific to an individual. Anxiety affects people of all ages and social backgrounds. The term for persistent anxiety that affects your day-to-day life is “anxiety disorder.” A small amount of anxiety is normal in the developing child, especially among adolescents and teens. Anxiety is often a realistic response to new roles and responsibilities, as well as to sexual and identity development. The pathophysiology of anxiety is not well understood. Several theoretical models exist. According to one of the theory, patients with panic disorder have a faulty central “suffocation alarm” mechanism, and respond to slight rises in CO2 blood levels with a sensation of suffocation, and hence, panic. Evidence supporting this model includes the observation, confirmed in several studies, that panic attacks can be induced in susceptible individuals (though not in normal controls) by the intravenous infusion of sodium lactate or the inhalation of five percent CO2. A psychological theory of panic disorder postulates that panic attacks are the result of “catastrophizing” misinterpretations of bodily sensations.
Causes of anxiety
Although the reasons of anxiety disorders are mainly unknown, certain factors may contribute to their development:
- Medical conditions. Certain disorders, such as an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), can produce anxiety, among other signs and symptoms. Anxiety symptoms can be induced and accompanied many medical problems (thyroid diseases, heart problems, pulmonary embolism, etc.) and should be always carefully reviewed in the differential diagnosis. Also, substance abuse problems and medications side effects can be often the reason for anxiety. The potential for having an anxiety disorder generally increases with an increasing number of physical symptoms.
- Coping with illness. Having a serious physical illness, such as cancer, can make you anxious. Worrying about the implications of your diagnosis and possible treatment can become excessive and overwhelming.
- Stress. A buildup of stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety. For example, having a physical illness, along with the stress of missing work or losing pay, may combine to cause generalized anxiety disorder.
- Personality. People with some personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders. People with unmet psychological needs, such as having a close relationship that isn’t fulfilling, may feel less secure and be more at risk of any anxiety disorder.
- Heredity. Anxiety disorders appear to run in some families.
- Gender. Anxiety disorders more frequent in women and developing in early age, although treatment may be delayed for years. Anxiety symptoms may be so impairing, that suffering people may receive disability. Most often anxiety treated by primary care physicians, often, without an accurate diagnosis or with adequate treatment.
Anxiety as a medical problem
Anxiety is one of the most common psychiatric complaints, however Anxiety disorders are commonly seen in primary care settings. Several studies have found prevalence rates of all DSM-IV anxiety disorders in primary care settings to range from 5 % to 21%.
Anxiety is characterized by the following symptoms:
Somatic. These physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, tingling, pale complexion, sweating, numbness, difficulty in breathing, and sensations of tightness in the chest, neck, shoulders, or hands.
- Behavioral. Behavioral symptoms of anxiety include pacing, trembling, general restlessness, hyperventilation, pressured speech, hand wringing, and finger tapping.
- Cognitive. Cognitive symptoms of anxiety include recurrent or obsessive thoughts, feelings of doom, morbid or fear-inducing thoughts or ideas, and confusion or inability to concentrate.
- Emotional. Emotional symptoms include feelings of tension or nervousness, feeling “hyper” or “keyed up,” and feelings of unreality, panic, or terror.
Living with anxiety can be difficult. In addition to dealing with excessive worry, you may find that other conditions, such as depression. You may find that talking to a counselor or therapist can help you cope with the effects of anxiety . Our highly professional team is able to train you in self hypnosis and meditation to empower your stress resistance.