Each person experiences a vague, obnoxious diffuse sense of apprehension, often accompanied by headache, palpitation, sweating, stomach discomfort, chest tightness, and even irritability. This is called anxiety, an alerting reaction to an unknown and internal threat. Serving as a warning sign for an external or internal threat, it aids a person for survival thus, preventing one from pain, damage to organs, punishment/sanctions, and frustrating situations like separation from relatives and loved ones, and decline in social status. This brings about the necessary action to avoid or diminish the possible outcomes. Therefore, anxiety helps a person from damage and further dangers.
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent group of psychiatric cases. Women are reported to have higher prevalence compared to men and overall prevalence is noted to be lower in higher socioeconomic status.
Several explanations contribute on the causes of anxiety. Psychological theories like the Psychoanalytic, Behavioral and Existential theories, the Biological theories on the Nervous System and Neurotransmitters (Norepinephrine, Serotonin and Gamma Amino-Butyric Acid). Genetic studies also have contributed information on gene components that contribute in developing anxiety disorders which just supports the association of anxiety patients having at least one relative with anxiety disorder. Based on modern brain imaging procedures such as the MRI, the Limbic System and the Cerebral Cortex are the specific sites of the Nervous System where much of the studies on anxiety were focused.
There are different kinds of anxiety disorders which will be discussed below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is can be described with chronic and excessive worrying of a broad spectrum of activities which causes considerable social impairment. Medications for GAD are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Venlafaxine and Buspirone.
OCD is comprised of having excessive and irrational obsessions and/or compulsions which lead to impairment of social function. Clomipramine or the SSRIs and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are the common modes of treatment.
Panic disorder is comprised of panic attacks that are unanticipated and frequent. Agoraphobia (abnormal fear of being helpless in a state where escape may be difficult) is common in about 40 of cases. Medications include antidepressants like SSRIs, Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and Benzodiazepines. CBT are also employed.
Social or public performance situations trigger marked anxiety in Social Phobia, which can either be specific (like closed spaces or dark rooms) or general (like public speeches). Main treatment involves desensitization of the person by gradual exposure to the feared stimuli. Social Phobia can be addressed with SSRIs, benzodiazepines or beta blockers.
and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Lastly, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense fear and helplessness, after a significant life event, which last for more than a month. Treatment includes SSRIs, buspirone and mood stabilizers like Lithium. Support groups and CBT are also effective for these cases.