Anxiety is what someone feels when they are worried, tense, or afraid. It can be mild or severe. People experience anxiety as thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
Neuraxpharm provides medication alternatives for anxiety and once your doctor has determined your specific needs, they can prescribe the product that best adapts to your needs and condition.
Find out more about what anxiety is, the symptoms, and how it can be managed and treated.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a potentially dangerous or challenging situation. It is a feeling of unease, worry, fear or dread about what is going to happen. It is entirely normal to feel anxious from time to time, and it can even be beneficial. Anxiety can help us prepare for specific situations, making sure we pay attention and stay alert to any dangers.
However, some people find it hard to control their anxiety. High levels of anxiety maintained over a long time that impact normal, day-to-day activities could mean someone has an anxiety disorder.
Statistics show that anxiety disorders are prevalent across the globe. The World Health Organization estimates that around 284 million people (3.6% of the world’s population) have experienced an anxiety disorder. About 63% (179 million) are female, compared with 105 million males.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), more than one in six people (nearly 84 million people) across the EU had a mental health problem in 2016. Across EU countries, the most common mental disorder is anxiety disorder, with an estimated 25 million people (equating to 5.4% of the population) living with anxiety disorders.
Everyone experiences anxiety differently. The physical and mental effects can vary from one person to the next.
The body reacts to anxiety in a particular way, releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones put someone experiencing anxiety into a high-alert state in which they look for potential threats, and activate their fight-or-flight responses. As a result, some common symptoms of anxiety include:
The early signs of anxiety are sometimes not very obvious and often develop slowly over time. The symptoms vary from person to person. One of the most common early signs of anxiety is excessive worrying about everyday situations. Symptoms sometimes start in childhood or the teenage years and continue into adulthood.
Many different situations or experiences can bring on anxiety. Sometimes it can be challenging to know what is causing the anxiety, and this can result in further stress or upset
Anyone can get anxiety, although anxiety disorders often start when people are teenagers. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
Anxiety is not a life-threatening condition. However, research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry shows that anxiety disorders can significantly increase the risk of death (mortality). Comorbidity (when two disorders are experienced at the same time) of anxiety disorders and depression plays an essential part in the increased mortality risk.
Anxiety is not a simple diagnosis; it can sometimes be difficult for doctors to diagnose whether someone has an anxiety disorder or depression with anxiety as a symptom.
To diagnose anxiety accurately, a doctor needs to rule out certain physical illnesses that may be causing the symptoms. They may ask questions about:
It can be difficult to talk to a doctor about emotions, feelings, and personal issues. Still, the doctor must understand the symptoms and circumstances to make an accurate diagnosis.
To help with the diagnosis, the doctor may also make a physical examination and do some blood tests to rule out conditions such as anaemia (iron deficiency) or an overactive thyroid.
There are no laboratory tests to diagnose anxiety. If a doctor cannot find any medical reason for certain physical and mental symptoms, they may make a referral to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
A mental health specialist will ask further questions about symptoms, feelings and emotions, and make a clinical assessment using questionnaires to gauge anxiety levels. Some examples of anxiety assessment questionnaires include the Hamilton anxiety rating scale (HAM-A), or the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), which measures the severity of anxiety in adults and adolescents.
Treatment and medication for anxiety can relieve the symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.
There is no way to accurately predict what will cause someone to develop problems with anxiety. However, steps can be taken to reduce the impact of related symptoms:
Research is continuing into anxiety, the potential risks for developing anxiety disorders, and effective treatment options. There have been significant advances in understanding the parts of the brain involved with experiencing fear and anxiety. For example, scientists have found that the amygdala region appears to be involved in learning about fear, danger, and safety. People with anxiety disorders seem to have a more reactive amygdala.
Another critical study has looked at how a receptor involved in the brain’s reward system may be a target for treating anhedonia (lack of pleasure), a symptom of several anxiety disorders. The research has significant implications for the development of medications to target specific areas of the brain and will hopefully lead to more informative clinical trials in the future.
One area that has seen significant progress is the role of genetics in various diseases and conditions. Current research is looking at how genes and environments might work together to contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. For example, a child with a genetic predisposition to being shy and sensitive might become a target for bullies. In turn, being bullied (an environmental factor) might increase their anxiety levels.
Research is continuing into treatment options for anxiety because the medication available to help people suffering from anxiety disorders has not changed significantly over the years. Scientists are now working to develop new medicines that could replace current anti-anxiety drugs, which are not effective for all patients. Some are known to have potential side effects and safety concerns (for example, a risk of abuse and dependency).
However, there is optimism in the scientific community that more advances are on the horizon. The future treatment for anxiety will look very different from today’s care.