ANXIETY DISORDERS AND ITS RISK FACTORS
Anxiety disorders classified in the DSM V (Diagnostic Statistical Manual- fifth edition) constitutes of a range of disorders that are majorly characterized with excessive fear that has an impact of how an individual functions within their environment. Some of these disorders includes; Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Specific phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorders and Separation Anxiety Disorder.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and the impact could be physical, emotional, psychological or social. Anxiety could have both negative and positive effects but it depends on the situation at hand. It can be a tool to cope with uncertain events, however it can be detrimental if it significantly affects how the individual functions i.e. how they communicate, make decisions or even their productivity at work or school. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available.
TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is marked by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.
- Specific Phobias
According to the DSM-V , it describes specific phobia as an intense, irrational fear of an object or a situation. A phobia is an excessive and overwhelming fear that results in avoidance or extreme distress. Some phobias are centered on a specific fear object, while others are complex and tied to different situations or circumstances.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Refers to a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating.
The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.
Refers to a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating. The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.
- Panic Disorders
The diagnostic criteria for panic disorders are defined in the DSM-5 as an anxiety disorder based primarily on the occurrence of panic attacks, which are recurrent and often unexpected.
In addition, at least one panic attack is followed by one month or more of the person fearing that they will have more attacks and causing them to change their behavior, which often includes avoiding situations that might induce an attack.
The attacks are not caused by a physiological effect of use of a substance i.e Alcohol or medications. The attacks aren’t also better explained by another mental health condition.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
Developmentally inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by at least three of the following;
|ü Recurrent excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation from home or from major attachment figures.|
|ü Persistent and excessive worry about losing major attachment figures or about possible harm to them, such as illness, injury, disasters, or death.|
|ü Persistent and excessive worry about experiencing an untoward event (e.g., getting lost, being kidnapped, having an accident, becoming ill) that causes separation from a major attachment figure.|
|ü Persistent reluctance or refusal to go out, away from home, to school, to work, or elsewhere because of fear of separation.|
|ü Persistent and excessive fear of or reluctance about being alone or without major attachment figures at home or in other settings.|
|ü Persistent reluctance or refusal to sleep away from home or to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure.|
|ü Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation|
|ü Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, lasting at least 4 weeks in children and adolescents and typically 6 months or more in adults.
You’re more likely to have an anxiety disorder if you have a family history of them. That suggests your genes at least play a role. Still, scientists haven’t found an “anxiety gene.” So just because you have a parent or close relative with one doesn’t mean you’ll get one, too. You could just be genetically predisposed to it.
- Absent parent
If you lose a parent, or they’re gone from the home for long stretches before you’re 18, you’re more likely to have anxiety. Other family problems like violence, alcoholism, and sexual abuse can also lead to it.
This could be both physical or emotional trauma that emanates from current experiences or past experiences. If the trauma isn’t intricately addressed, then the individual becomes more susceptible to get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or any anxiety disorders.
Depression being a mood disorder, it hugely impacts how the individual functions on a daily basis. It affects how they sleep, eat, make decisions, productivity either at work/school and even social interactions. This could predispose one to developing anxiety especially on how their life is or how the future will be for them.
- Having a physical condition or a Terminal illness
This could trigger an anxiety especially if the individual is unsure of the prognosis of their condition. Having to manage conditions like Diabetes, cancer or even hypertension could be accompanied with an intense fear of whether things will be better or worse.
- Financial stress
This is one of the leading causes to anxiety currently in the world due to the rapid change of the economy. There’s a cyclical link between financial worries and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. This is quite evident in low- and middle-income countries.
By Khalifa Khalid
Chiromo Hospital Group