Anxiety: symptoms of chronic anxiety, panic attacks? How to get rid of them?

Anxiety: symptoms of chronic anxiety, panic attacks? How to get rid of them?
Photo source: Getty images

Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling that is quite common in the course of life. However, it can also be a mental illness, specifically an anxiety disorder. What is anxiety and how does it manifest itself? How to treat this condition appropriately?

What is anxiety or anxiety disorder? What types, causes and symptoms does it have? How to get rid of it?

Anxiety is an emotional state manifested by unwanted mental and physical symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 20-25% of the population experiences feelings of anxiety during their lifetime.

You can learn the difference between normal anxiety and morbid anxiety, types of anxiety, causes, diagnosis, treatment, meditation and many other interesting information in the article.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state associated with a negative mental and often physical state of mind. The intensity of anxiety varies and depends primarily on its cause. It can range from a state of mild inner turmoil, worry to an anxious panic state.

Anxiety mainly expresses a feeling of fear and apprehension.

Anxiety disorders are increasingly being diagnosed and are increasingly affecting the lives of ordinary people. Their increased incidence is mainly due to severe emotional strain and the frequent stress of everyday life.

Ordinary fear is just an emotional reaction to the current situation, but anxiety disorders take a strong psychological and physical form.

It is characterised by fatigue, headaches, chest tightness, stomach tightness or nausea, among other symptoms. More severe forms of anxiety may include dizziness or audiovisual hallucinations.

Anxiety is an emotional expression similar to fear, associated with imminent potential events and situations. Anxiety encompasses both the emotional and physical spheres of symptoms.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 20-25% of the population experience some form of anxiety at some time in their lives. Anxiety is mainly experienced during adolescence and between the ages of 20 and 30. It can also occur in childhood, old age or pregnancy.

Anxiety disorders are experienced mainly in the context of negative and potentially negative situations. Anxiety disorders can be associated with a physical organic disease or as part of a psychological illness(depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, etc.).

Normal anxiety or morbid anxiety?

The basic difference between 'normal' anxiety and morbid anxiety is in the intensity, amount, manifestations and cause.

Ordinary anxiety and the feeling of fear lasts for a short period of time. It is caused by certain real life moments and situations that we naturally fear. It is a temporary condition that will pass in a short time.

However, morbid anxiety is chronic. Negative feelings recur and return.

Feelings of fear and apprehension are often irrational, arising without an objective cause. The reaction to real negative stimuli is also hypersensitive.

Morbid anxiety often interferes with daily life. It causes inner discomfort and restlessness.

Anxiety disorders can be so intense that they disrupt family, social and work life.

When to see a specialist?

If you often experience fear, worry and feelings of sadness even in everyday situations, it is advisable to seek professional help. Anxiety manifests itself in sleeping difficulties, fatigue, libido, digestive and eating problems.

Just as a person should take care of his physical health, he should also take care of his mental health.

If your thinking, fear and inability to function normally are limiting and binding you, it is necessary to see a professional. By professional we mean a psychiatrist, possibly a psychologist or psychotherapist.

Causes of anxiety

Anxiety of a short-term nature is caused by an actual or potential negative stimulus. Anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological and external factors.

The trigger for the disorder is often increased pressure and stress.

Genetic predispositions also play a role. Anxiety attacks are more common in individuals born to parents who have developed a particular anxiety or mental disorder. However, this is not the rule.

Biologically, it is a change in brain chemistry, particularly an imbalance in levels of the hormone serotonin (the happiness hormone) and other neurotransmitters in the nervous system.

By external factor, we mean the external environment in which the individual operates. Examples are people who grew up with parents suffering from an anxiety disorder or other psychiatric diagnosis. A person is particularly strongly affected during childhood and adolescence.

Examples of the etiology (onset) of anxiety disorders:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Other associated illnesses
  • Negative behavioural patterns from childhood
  • Excessive exposure to stress
  • Phobias

Types of anxiety disorders

There are many types and kinds of anxiety disorders.
Each is specific in its etiology and accompanying symptoms.

Diagnosing individual anxiety disorders can be complicated. Several different types are listed below.

Panic anxiety disorder is characterized by sudden panic attacks, stress and nervousness. It is an attack of intense fear. It is accompanied by physical symptoms such as gasping, trembling, excessive sweating, chest pain or general nausea and dizziness.

Generalised anxiety disorder is mainly characterised by excessive worry about everyday and more serious problems (health, work, relationships, plans and activities). Anxiety can be triggered by potential threats.

Social anxiety disorder is the fear of social situations in particular that may be potentially embarrassing, upsetting or inappropriate. The individual experiences fear of social interactions and of situations in which attention will be drawn to them.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes recurrent intrusive and relatively unwanted thoughts. These fears may relate, for example, to personal hygiene, order, cleanliness and health.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by the aftermath of a negative event. It can cause psychological and physical difficulties with things and situations that are associated with the traumatic experience.

Phobia is characterised by experiencing fear and avoidance of certain objects or situations. However, the fear and apprehension are excessive and often do not correspond to risks and real dangers.

An anxiety disorder caused by another illness may be a consequence or part of another somatic illness.

Symptoms and manifestations of anxiety

The specific clinical symptoms depend on the type of anxiety and possibly the type of anxiety disorder.

In general, however, they include feelings of sadness, inner restlessness and worry.

Common psychosomatic (mind-body) symptoms include a feeling of tightness in the chest, a feeling of exhaustion and excessive fatigue.

Possible psychiatric symptoms:

  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Internal confusion and contradictions
  • Worry and feelings of fear
  • Feelings of lack of energy
  • Feeling of tension in the chest
  • Reluctance to engage in normal activities
  • Irritability and mood swings

Possible physical symptoms:

  • Increased fatigue and exhaustion
  • Lack of energy and strength
  • Excessive sweating and cold sweat
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain (pressure)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Change/deterioration in sleep quality
  • Distractedness
  • Change/worsening of appetite
  • Constipation and digestive problems
  • Decrease in libido
Woman suffers panic attack, fear, sits up and holds her chest
Manifestations include a feeling of fear or panic attack, but also physical discomforts such as tightness in the chest and perception of lack of air, shortness of breath. Source: Getty Images

Diagnosis and treatment of anxiety

Diagnosing psychological diagnoses and disorders is quite challenging.

When you start to feel like you should discuss your anxieties with a professional, do so.

You need to seek a psychologist or psychiatrist. It is better to catch any physical and mental health problem early and take care of prevention.

The doctor will first conduct various examinations. He will rule out physical health problems that could be causing the psychological symptoms. The diagnosis of anxiety disorders is done in the psychiatrist's office.

The help of a professional and mental health care is increasingly in demand.

Treatment is aimed at removing the triggering cause and eliminating the clinical symptoms.

The exact form of therapy depends on the etiology of anxiety, its quantity, quality, etc.

Treatment of anxiety includes pharmacological treatment (psychopharmaceuticals), psychotherapy and, above all, self-development (education, relaxation techniques, etc.).

  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Self-development

Medications help relieve the symptoms of anxiety by balancing chemicals and processes in the brain. Commonly prescribed medications include antidepressants, anxiolytics and beta-blockers.

Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs chosen for acute anxiety. They are effective within 30 to 60 minutes.

The general principle with psychopharmaceuticals is to start with low doses and gradually increase the dose if necessary. This is mainly due to the increased sensitivity of patients to the side effects of these drugs.

Therapy or psychotherapy is a type of professional counselling that helps you understand and manage anxiety states. It helps to eliminate the amount and intensity of future anxiety states.

The main role of psychotherapeutic treatment is to try to change behaviour through changing thinking. For example, psychotherapy takes the form of relaxed conversation, guided meditation, games and other techniques.

Self-development refers to the natural practices that a person suffering from anxiety should carry out on a regular basis. These are mainly meditation and relaxation techniques designed to calm the body and mind of the individual. Examples include autogenic training, deep relaxation, guided meditation, etc. A professional can help you choose the appropriate technique.

With proper relaxation, there is a deep release of tension on a physical and mental level. Meditation helps to restore balance in the body and subsequently induces an energetic state for further action.

The treatment of psychological disorders also includes basic things such as a regular wholesome diet full of vitamins, minerals and proteins. It is recommended to eliminate simple sugars. On the other hand, eating vegetables, fruits, fiber and probiotics is excellent.

The intestinal tract (microbiome) and the brain (CNS) are very closely linked.

Psychotherapy with a psychiatrist (therapist).
Psychotherapy with a psychiatrist (therapist). Source: Getty Images.

Doctor about anxiety, its causes and manifestations

fshare on Facebook

Interesting resources

  • DUŠEK, Karel and Alena VEČEŘOVÁ-PROCHÁZKOVÁ. Diagnostics and therapy of mental disorders. 2nd, revised edition. Prague: Psychiatric Hospital: Grada Publishing, 2015. Psyché (Grada): Psychiatric Hospital. ISBN 978-80-247-4826-9.
  • - Anxiety disorders and their treatment. Solen. Ivana Tašková
  • - Diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders - options for the general practitioner. Solen. MUDr. Věra Vobořilová
  • - Everything you need to know about anxiety. Healthline. Jacquelyn Johnson, PsyD.
  • - What you need to know about anxiety. Medical News Today. Dillon Browne, Ph.D..
The aim of the portal and content is not to replace professional examination. The content is for informational and non-binding purposes only, not advisory. In case of health problems, we recommend seeking professional help, visiting or contacting a doctor or pharmacist.