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Anxiety: Signs, symptoms and treatment

Anxiety: Signs, symptoms and treatment

Anxiety can result in disturbed sleep, headaches, difficulty concentrating and even muscle aches
Representational image | iStock

We have all felt anxious at some point in our lives. Be it when writing an examination, going in for a medical checkup, giving an interview for a job, or speaking in public, it is normal to be anxious sometimes. But it becomes a problem when we are not able to control it and the fears continue for a long time.

Anxiety is an emotional state that is associated with being uneasy or distressed and can vary from mild to severe. A person is said to suffer from anxiety disorder when he or she experiences a fear or worry that does not go away and only gets worse over time.

Anxiety symptoms

Anxiety can also be a major symptom of other medical conditions such as panic disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Prominent symptoms of anxiety include — but are not limited to — an increased heart rate, trembling, irritation, sweating, hot flashes, dry mouth and dizziness. In severe cases, the symptoms can worsen, causing disturbed sleep, headaches, weight and appetite changes, trouble in concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension and aches.

What causes anxiety?

Research still needs to fully identify and establish factors and patterns that trigger anxiety. Though we do not fully understand yet what causes anxiety, researchers say there is a combination of several factors that can lead to an anxiety attack.

Some of the factors are chemical imbalances in the brain that regulate mood and behaviour, a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, certain medical conditions such as asthma, changes in blood pressure, thyroid disorders, long-term medical conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or mental diseases, and substance abuse or chronic alcoholism.

Seeking help

If anyone starts facing any of these factors and is experiencing social anxiety symptoms that are affecting his or her daily routine (either cognitively or behaviourally) and causing distress regularly, it could be time to seek help either through a family member or a trusted physician.

In mild signs of social anxiety, one can find some relief by practising yoga and meditation; maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet; and limiting the consumption of coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks. Experts also suggest that such persons will benefit from engaging themselves in activities such as simple sports, music and hobbies in their free time.

In moderate to severe cases of anxiety, healthcare professionals have found that psychiatric therapy, medication or a combination of both can help for anxiety treatment. In cognitive behavioural therapy, a mental-health professional listens to the thoughts and apprehensions of the affected person and suggests ways to understand and manage them.

Moreover, medications such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicine may be prescribed by a medical specialist if other psychological therapies fail to treat the symptoms of stress and anxiety


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