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Anxiety: Types, Causes, Symptoms,Diagnosis,Treatment, and Prevention

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as the emotion, which is typically characterized by fear, nervousness and increased blood pressure. Anxiety is a very common mental condition, but the sooner the patients are treated, the sooner are the chances to recover. There are seven common types of anxiety, which include:Anxiety

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by uncontrollable and excessive worries on the activities and negative outcomes. GAD symptoms last for about 6 months or longer.

  • Panic Disorder:

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety caused due to the experience of sudden panic symptoms and it creates a worry that panic symptoms will return. The symptoms of panic anxiety disorders might last for few minutes to 10 minutes.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder:

Social anxiety disorder is developed due to the excessive nervousness of being humiliated or embarrassed in daily social situations, which further leads to avoidance behaviors. The symptoms usually last for 6 months or longer.

  • Phobia:

Phobia is excessive and persistent fear of an object or situation. Phobia lasts for about 6 months or longer

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

This type of anxiety is characterized by the intrusive thoughts, which leads to compulsive behaviors, such as excessive exercises, repeated checking, repeated counting or repeated cleaning, etc.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

PTSD is caused due to an exposure to a traumatic incident. Most people experience anxious or negative reactions after a traumatic incident. The symptoms of PTSD last for a month or more after the exposure to an event.

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder:

Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety caused due to the separation from home or most-related people. Separation anxiety disorder is usually caused in children. The symptoms last for about 4 weeks in children and can last up to 6 months or more in adults.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is caused due to complicated factors, such as:

  • Environmental Factors:

Anxiety might develop due to few stressful life events, such as work stress, pregnancy, relationship problems, verbal, or sexual abuse.

  • Genetic Factors:

Genetic factors, such as family history can cause anxiety. However, a person with a family history of anxiety doesn’t mean that they will develop anxiety right away.

  • Physical Factors:

Chronic physical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and hypertension can cause anxiety.

  • Substance Withdrawal:

Withdrawal of an illicit substance can cause anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety:

The patient may experience behavioral, psychological orphysical symptoms when they are stressed or anxious. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Hot flushes
  • Dry mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Choking
  • Tension headaches

Diagnosis of Anxiety:

The symptoms should cause significant distress to diagnose a person with anxiety. To diagnose the patient, the doctor may perform the following:

  • A thorough examination of the medical history might be performed to understand the underlying cause.
  • A clear enquiry about the patient is made to figureout the physical and mental condition of the patient.
  • A psychological questionnaire is given to diagnose anxiety as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

If no specific cause is identified, then the anxiety is identified as the generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In case of an identified underlying cause, a different diagnosis might be performed.

Treatment of Anxiety:

The treatment for anxiety is based on the diagnosis and on how significantly anxiety is affecting the person’s daily life. The important treatment measures are medications and psychotherapy. Most often, psychotherapy is combined with medications to treat and relieve anxiety.


Several medications are used to treat anxiety, some of the medications used for the treatment include:

  • Benzodiazepines:

Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs, which are used to relieve anxiety. They are mostly used to relieve acute anxiety (on a short-term basis). Benzodiazepines are not preferred as they are habit-forming and should be avoided in alcohol abuse or drug abuse patients.

  • Antidepressant Medications:

Usually, antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed for the patients diagnosed with anxiety. Antidepressants are used as the first-line therapy to treat anxiety.

  • Buspirone:

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety drug used on a consistent basis to treat anxiety. As like many antidepressants, buspirone takes longer duration to shows its effectiveness.

  • Other Medications:

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOIs) and beta-blockers are among the other medications used to treat anxiety.


Psychotherapy is often called as psychological counselling or talk therapy. It involves talking with the therapist to reduce anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common and effective type of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy focusses on the specific skills training to manage worries, which will help to get back and perform the activities that were avoided due to anxiety.

Alternative Therapies:

Alternative therapies are on demand as they are non-invasive. Although they do not replace the conventional therapies, alternative therapies can be used as an adjuvant therapy to treat anxiety thathelps to improve quality of life. Some of the alternative therapies include:

  • Stress management
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Preventive Measures:

Although preventing anxiety is a tough task, the daily life anxious feelings can be prevented, which can decrease the risk of attaining a complete anxiety disorder. The preventive measures may include the following:

  • Active Lifestyle:

Anxiety disorders can be prevented by acquiring an active lifestyle. Being active most of the time in a week can reduce the stress and may improve the mood, which helps in keeping the mind and body healthy. An active lifestyle cannot be attained immediately, but gradual increase in the activities would help the patient.

  • Regular Sleep Cycle:

Regular sleep cycle and adequate sleep can help to prevent anxiety disorders. Adequate sleep can decrease the stress and relax the mind.

  • Healthy Diet:

Maintaining a healthy diet, such as eating vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains is advised to prevent anxiety disorders.

  • Avoid Caffeine Products:

Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can trigger anxiety. Therefore, avoid caffeine products, such as tea, coffee, cola and chocolates to prevent anxiety.

  • Quit Alcohol and Smoking:

Nicotine can worsen anxiety. Therefore, smoking should be avoided.

  • Use Relaxation Methods:

Constant use of alternative therapies, such as yoga or meditation can help relax the body and mind, which in turn prevents the anxiety disorders.

Coping with Anxiety:

It is advised to follow certain steps to cope with anxiety, they include:

  • Follow the treatment schedule regularly
  • Leave behind the past concerns
  • Take a brief break while feeling anxious
  • Socialize more and increase interactions to decrease the worries

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