Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes and treatment

Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes and treatment

Anxiety is a normal and healthy emotion. Occasional anxiety is a part of life. However, regular disproportionate levels of anxiety that do not go away can result in a clinical disorder. It can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, routine work, and relationships.

Anxiety disorders affect approximately 4% of the global population and according to statistics released by the World Health Organisation, around 25 percent of the India’s population is suffering from them today.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety disorders alter a person’s ability to process emotions and can also lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, irregular behaviour and worry.

There are several types of anxiety disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by display of excessive anxiety or worry for a long duration (up to 6 months or more). The emotion is related to a number of regular things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and routine life. The fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in everyday situations.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Uncontrollable worrying
  • Sleep problemssuch as difficulty falling or staying asleep, unsatisfying sleep

Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be triggered by a feared object or situation; they last for a brief span of time but are of high intensity.

Panic disorder symptoms include:

  • Accelerated heartrate
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
  • Uncontrollable emotions
  • Uncontrollable thoughts
  • Self talk

They often avoid these situations, but in case they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. In the most severe form they might become housebound.

Social anxiety disorder: People who have social anxiety disorder have an intense fear of appearing or performing in social situations. They worry that their actions or behaviors will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed and anxious.

Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:
• Racing heart
• Upset stomach
• Shaking
• Fidgeting
• Choking sensations
• Sweating
• Blushing
• Trembling
• Dry mouth
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Light-headedness,
• Blurred vision,
• Urge to urinate
• Avoid eye contact and communication

People with such symptoms tend to avoid social situations, in intense cases even school life or workplace. In case they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. In the most severe form, they might become housebound.

Separation anxiety disorder: People who have Separation anxiety disorder experience excessive anxiety regarding separation from anything with which they are emotionally attached (e.g., a parent, caregiver, siblings or home). It is often considered an issue only children deal with; however, adults can also be suffering from separation anxiety disorder.

Separation anxiety disorder symptoms include:
• Fear that loved ones, or yourself, will be abducted or fatally injured
• Extreme and persistent hesitancy or refusal to leave the proximity of loved ones
• Difficulty sleeping away from a loved one
• Depression
• Anxiety attacks
• Nightmares
• Crying
• Nausea
• Fatigue
• Stomach-ache
• Headache
• Lack of concentration
• Unexplained physical illness

Selective mutism: A rare disorder associated with anxiety is selective mutism. People fail to speak in specific social situations despite having normal language skills. Selective mutism usually occurs before the age of 5, such children do not initiate speech or respond reciprocally when spoken to by others in social settings. They struggle with reading out loud, speaking in front of a group, or working in large groups.

Selective mutism symptoms include:
• Failure to speak
• Extreme shyness
• Fear of social embarrassment
• Compulsive traits
• Withdrawal or social isolation
• Clinging behavior
• Temper tantrums.
• Oppositional behaviour
• Negativity
• Low self esteem

Children diagnosed with selective mutism will speak comfortably at home in the presence of immediate family members or with close friends. They are often also diagnosed with other anxiety disorders and receptive language difficulties.


According to research, both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Although the risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder can vary, some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Temperamental traits
  • Behavioural inhibition in childhood
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
  • A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.
  • Substance abuse such as caffeine or other substances/medications


Anxiety disorders can be generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.


Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but ishelpful inrelieving symptoms. Medication for anxiety is prescribed by a psychiatrist. The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), antidepressants, and beta-blockers.


Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” directed at the patient’s specific anxiety can be of great help. Patient becomes aware of the situation and also is assured that help is available.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an example of one type of psychotherapy that teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.

For more information on Anxiety symptoms, causes and treatment call for an appointment with our expert at phone numbers +91-9971625610 , 70422 23755 , 70422 23756

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