It’s hard to describe anxiety in a very general sort of way. Is it the uneasiness? A baseline negative emotion accompanying something in the near future? Scientifically speaking, anxiety is defined as a physiological phenomenon as the body’s reaction to anything stressful, dangerous and unfamiliar. The unease accompanying the anticipation of potentially troubling situation is one that is in-built in our mechanism; it often works as an alarming note to prepare our body and mind ready for whatever is coming up. There exists a very healthy and normal level of anxiety, which actually helps people to respond better to different challenging circumstances. However, beyond this limit, anxiety by no parameters seems useful anymore and can be seriously threatening. This is where the term Anxiety Disorder comes in. Here is the science behind anxiety, and its effects.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is associated with brief periods of dread-evoking situations. On the other hand, anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness, which constantly interferes through the victim’s normal lifestyle, persists without any direct reason; the reactions like worry, nervousness, stifling concerns become crushing and also induces the following responses –
- Heart palpitations
- Breathing trouble
- Muscle tension
- Hot and cold flushes
- Sleeping disorders
- Dizzy feeling etc.
Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorders are some common forms of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety: The Neuro-chemical changes
Before starting to formulate ideas about anxiety, it is very important to understand clearly that there is no such thing as personal weakness, or poor raising or character defects associated with anxiety disorder. It is not incurable, either. Neurochemical changes in the brain and environmental stress are what set off this condition.
The amygdala in brain is responsible for distinct fears like specific phobias alerts us for different threats and spurs the said reactions, and the hippocampus encodes threatening events into memories, thereby playing its role is regarding circumstances. Serotonin, (chemical name: 5-hydroxytryptamine, formula: C10H12N2O) is a monoamine neurotransmitter found in our central nervous system. This compound is known to be a mood-controller, and lower levels of it can cause anxiety symptoms to surface. Lower serotonin levels can be genetic, but the worse thing is- anxiety can lower the level further.
Some factors that contribute to the illness this way are:
- Frequent stress-exposure or existence of a long-run stress inducer factor
- Traumatic experience
- Substance abuse like alcohol or drugs
- Certain medications having side-effects
- Other mental illness occurrence
- Family history of anxiety
Scientists have been researching for multiple decades about survival on this disorder, while the patient count continues to exponentially rise. Therefore it is important to know that like most other disorders, this is curable, With proper treatment, either by medical help, psychological counselling or natural remedy (properly enforced) or all of them together. In addition, it is essential to overcome the stigma associated with mental illness and to reach out for help.
Benzodiazepines are the most prescribed treatment of such disorders. Other anti-depressants, sometimes low-dose antipsychotic drugs are also prescribed. However, self-prescribing can do more harm than good; the professional expert opinion is compulsory for medications. There are natural medication options too. For example, one of the many turmeric health benefits includes reduction of anxiety and depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Group therapies are some of the examples of a psychological approach to this problem .
Self-help + recovery
Healthy lifestyle changes can do wonders to fix the chemical imbalances in one’s brain. Some of the prescribed modifications are
- Regular exercise for ensuring physical fitness
- Meditation or mindfulness practice for nourishing the mind
- Healthy eating; the digestive system influences our days very much
- Enough amount of sleep, near about 8 hours
- Other relaxation techniques
The research landscapes is evolving, as is the power of people resisting the disorder.