The Types, Triggers, And Treatments Of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a complex disorder that has many symptoms attributed to it. One symptom of anxiety is the developing changes in a person’s natural habits, such as being increasingly tired. Another symptom of anxiety is having chronic worries. An example of this is looking at all the negative things that could go wrong in a situation. The most common symptom for a person with anxiety to exhibit is the repeated changes in their mood. Back in 1 BC, Greek philosopher Cicero was the first person to conclude that anxiety was an illness. Back in the 1980s, it was estimated that two to four percent of people in the United States had some type of disorder related to anxiety. In 2016, these numbers changed significantly. In the United States, it is likely that about eighteen percent of people have an anxiety disorder, and in Europe, about fourteen percent of people have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Two doctors, Borwin Bandelow and Sophie Michaelis from the University Medical Centre in Göttingen, Germany, “found evidence that the prevalence of most anxiety disorders peaks in 18 to 34-year-olds”. Although anxiety presents itself uniquely to each person, knowing the types, triggers, and treatments can be lifesaving.

Gender and age also play a part in the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is from stress, the stress which triggers anxiety are non-life threatening events. Anxiety is not something that is from one’s physical being, but it is in their head. Anxiety is worrying about things that may or may not happen. Anxiety is not fear but related to fear. Anxiety protects a person but also can harm them at the same time. An example of this can be “getting hit by a car will ensure you look both ways before crossing a street”. Anxiety has many parts and can develop at any age. When a person has anxiety, other illnesses may come with it, most commonly depression. 

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorders are all types of anxiety. Generalized anxiety is uncontrolled worry or anxiety about a specified event and its symptoms include increased irritability, sleepiness, and others. According to Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., founder, and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke University's Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, “your body can't tell if the threat is outside or inside your head. So if you have a threatening story going on in your own mind, your body will go into the same fear reaction, and you'll feel anxious”. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, but it is also the least known about type of anxiety. Generalized anxiety comes with the fear of what is going to happen in the future. About two-thirds of the five percent of people who say they have GAD or generalized anxiety disorder, are women. Most symptoms of GAD come in the younger and teen years.

Social anxiety, another type of anxiety, is the fear of being in a situation where a person could embarrass themselves. Social anxiety usually presents itself between the years of ten and nineteen, but most often between ages ten and fourteen. Symptoms of social anxiety in adults are perspiration, shakiness, and others. On the other hand, the symptoms in children can be becoming upset or having fits when placed in uncomfortable social situations. While the brain has matured, teenagers can still be affected by social anxiety. In teenagers, the symptoms are timidity or uneasiness. Although adults are still affected by social anxiety, children and teens are more likely to have worsened and longer spouts of symptoms.

The last type of anxiety is a panic disorder. Panic disorders are spouts of uncontrollable and indefinable worry. This disorder is most commonly related to panic attacks. Panic attacks are usually accompanied by “sensations such as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, unsteadiness, shaking and sweating, as well as feelings that you’re about to jump out of your skin or have a ‘nervous breakdown’”. Panic attacks are the main indications of someone having a panic disorder. In the United States, around 1.6 percent of the population will have had a panic disorder at least once in their life. While both genders can have a panic disorder, women are twice as likely to develop it. Although a panic disorder more often takes root in the younger ages of adulthood, people in their older ages can also be affected. There is evidence to suggest that panic disorders between the cultures, there are differences in how the symptoms are exhibited, but panic disorders can affect everyone, a person does not get to decide whether they have a panic disorder or not.

The triggers of anxiety are different for everyone, but three possible triggers are amygdala, social media, and tests, such as PSATs, permit tests, and the SATs.. The amygdala is the portion of the brain where fear and anxiety are the most active. The amygdala comes into play when the body feels threatened. The amygdala is also the part of the brain where nightmares are created during the time of sleep where dreams occur. During a study, “when researchers stimulate it electrically, levels of the hormone cortisol increase, as does a subject's physical signs of fear”. When the amygdala is not at its peak, anxiety may decrease, but then the person may have difficulty recognizing anxiety and fear in other people. In adults, the changes in the amygdala relating to anxiety are different than those in children. The amygdala, for children, fails to work effectively with increasingly negative symptoms of anxiety.

Social media can be another trigger of anxiety. With the rise of social media, comes the rise of anxiety. Social media brings people of different backgrounds and cultures together that are less likely to have had encountered each other otherwise. It makes people seem like they have lasting connections with the people they are talking to. This is quite the opposite, “in fact, a study at the University of Glasgow in Scotland linked the time on social media with lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety”. Social media makes people seem like they have real, substantial relationships with the people they are talking to, but not being able to see them face-to-face promotes superficial ones. A Time magazine states, 'Technology like texting and social media has made it easier to avoid forming substantive relationships in the flesh and blood'.

A major trigger to anxiety are tests, whether school tests or permit tests. Test anxiety is anxiety a person receives when taking a test, including ones like the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and the American College Test (ACT). These specific tests generate increasing amounts of anxiety because they are the deciding factors into whether a person receives acceptance into a college. It becomes a threat to the person when that test anxiety becomes more about the anxiety and less about the test. Anxiety disorders are different than test anxiety, it affects both the physical body and the mental body. It has physical and mental symptoms. Some of its mental symptoms are forgetting knowledge and making unnecessary mistakes. Some of its physical symptoms are fast-paced breathing and respiration. Test anxiety can also be attributed to poorly made tests. These types of tests limit a students’ ability to achieve a positive grade, resulting in test anxiety. Tests make students feel a sense of tension, uneasiness, or pressure that makes it harder for the student to perform at the level they would like.

There are many types of treatments that are effective, and some examples are medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and yoga. Medication is one way to treat anxiety, but not all medicines are effective and are specific to a person with anxiety. There are two classes of drugs that are mainly used to treat anxiety, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norephedrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These medications work alongside another type of treatment, most often Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In the class of SSRIs, there are five different drugs in its category. Those drugs are Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Paxil, which is also known under the name Pexeva. Cymbalta and Effexor XR are two of the more common types of SNRIs. These classes of drugs all have an amount of time to wait to then determine if that specific medicine works. With these medicines, one dose does not work for everyone and has different side effects for each. There are also drugs that can be used to treat anxiety outside the SSRI and SNRI classes, such as buspirone, beta blockers, and benzodiazepines. Buspirone is another anti-anxiety medication that helps limit the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Unlike other drugs, buspirone is not addictive. Beta blockers, drugs that are used to treat short spells of anxiety that are caused by its physical side effects, are another way to treat anxiety. Common drugs under this category are Tenormin and Inderal LA. The last type of drug used to temporarily treat anxiety is benzodiazepine. When anxiety has made going through life a hassle, people look towards using benzodiazepine. These drugs are used short-term and then will need to be stopped to transition to an SSRI. Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are the most common drugs from this category. If treatments provide effects, other medications can be added to receive more benefit.

The next way to treat anxiety is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps people with anxiety, it identifies what triggers a person’s anxiety and then develops skills to deal with those triggers, when they come. This type of therapy works well with medication. By having CBT, it allows a person to gently push themselves to return to their normal life. Exposure therapy, which is apart of CBT, is the “developing of a plan to gradually but repeatedly face a specific phobia in a predictable and controllable way until your anxiety is more manageable”. In anxiety, the perceived amount of danger is different than the real amount of danger. In CBT, the perceived amount of danger and the actual amount of danger become known. Doctors come up with ways to make the amounts of danger equal. Threats are the main component of anxiety. In a study completed by Dr. Norton, “46% of people whose anxiety was treated with this talk therapy responded, versus 14% of those who received no CBT”, started to make changes in the wiring of their brains. A person will face unwiring of their brain’s at least one time in their life unless it is a constant unwiring. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is based on how changing the way a person thinks from negative to positive can have positive emotional effects. Many studies, done over the course of about twenty years, conclude that CBT has been the most worthwhile treatment for anxiety. It cannot be administered to children the same way it is administered to adults. For children, their therapy must be designed to the specific fear or anxiety causing event they want to deal with or a specific fear (Winters 62). CBT, known as the best type of treatment for anxiety, can be given in person by a therapist, or online. Online CBT has become more popular because of the shortage of therapists. In a study done with eleven patients, “found that nine of them responded to online CBT and seven achieved remission, although it is too early to say if this is better or worse than face-to-face therapy”. Therapy is just another treatment for anxiety, but it is not for everyone.

Yoga is another way to treat anxiety. It is said that, “yoga’s deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the ability to relax'. During yoga, focusing on the slowing of the breathing helps decrease anxiety because a person is focusing on something different than what is going on around them. The neurons that are activated when practicing yoga combine with breathing, which then activates a sense of calming. Christopher Del Negro, a neurophysiologist at the College of William & Mary says that “breathing is about staying alive on one level, but it's also connected to emotional life”. Yoga decreases symptoms of anxiety by seducing the sympathetic nervous system into thinking nothing is wrong. Dr. Timothy McCall says, “Concentrating on the physical intricacies of different poses forces you to filter out the 'endless tape loops of chatter and fear'. While focusing on something else, the mind is preparing itself for worries or anxiety-producing events that might happen in the future.

In conclusion, anxiety is a disorder that has many aspects to it. Every person with anxiety is different because that person has his or her own treatment plan. Medicines have long lists of side effects, and which one’s a person is affected by change depending on the medicine. All types of treatments are available for anxiety and there is not one cause of anxiety. Anxiety is something in which all the treatments, possible causes, and triggers need to be known before responding to the anxiety. Without taking these into consideration, anxiety could end up being deadly. Anxiety is changing the world in which a person sees and is happening in the world in which continues to change. 

16 August 2021
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