Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms And Management

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by a wide range of physical and autonomic signs as well as a subjective experience of uneasiness, discomfort, apprehension, or worried concern. Anxiety is a typical, emotional, rational, and expected reaction to danger, whether it be actual or imagined. However, if anxiety symptoms are persistent, unreasonable, excessive, and/or severe, don’t require stressful situations or stimuli to occur, or interfere with daily life Consequently, these are referred to as anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders

1) Emotional sensations

These include headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, trembling, stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhea, tingling, weakness, body ache, feeling shortness of breath, hot flashes or chills, increased blood pressure and heart rate, etc.

2) Physical sensations

These include nervousness, worry, fear, irritability, insecurity, isolation from others, self-consciousness, desire to escape, feeling that one is going to die, etc.


Etiology of anxiety

1) Genetic components

A genetic predisposition to anxiety problems exists in some individuals. In comparison to family members of someone without an anxiety problem, those with an anxiety disorder have a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder in their parents, kids, and siblings.

2) Unbalanced neurotransmission

The neurobiology of anxiety is connected to several neurotransmitters, according to studies on brain imaging and function.

3) Psychiatric variables

When a person’s capacity to cope normally is compromised for some reason or when a person’s ability to cope normally is overwhelmed by a combination of increased internal and external stresses, anxiety may ensue. The following is a summary of the psychological factors:

  • When internal mental processes, instincts, and impulses clash, it is psychodynamic and distressing.
  • Behavioral: Anxiety is a learned maladaptive response to particular past events and situations that generalizes to upcoming situations that are similar.
  • Spiritual: When people feel a deep, insatiable emptiness and nothingness in their lives, which frequently causes them to be distressed about their mortality and impending death.

4) Social influences

Family death, divorce, job loss, financial loss, accidents, and serious illnesses are just a few examples of life experiences that have an impact on how people react to their circumstances. An individual’s predisposition to anxiety disorders may be impacted by prolonged exposure to abuse, violence, terrorism, and poverty.

Types of anxiety disorders

Generalized anxiety disorderExcessive and unrealistic worry that is difficult to control about several life circumstances for 6 months or longer
Panic disorderRecurrent, unannounced, intense panic attacks that are accompanied by distinct bodily symptoms such as shaking, sweating, tachycardia, chest discomfort, and choking.
Phobic disordersStrong phobias of particular objects or circumstances, such as snakes, wide open areas, flying, social interactions, etc.
Post-traumatic stress disorderAnxiety brought on by the persistent remembrance of upsetting or terrible past events
Obsessive-compulsive disorderWhen a person is caught in a cycle of mindless repetitions, such as obsessions or compulsions that are distressing, time-consuming, or significantly disrupt daily life, work, relationships, or social interactions
Acute stress disorderAnxiety reaction which may occur shortly after traumatic exposure
Substance-induced anxiety disorderAnxiety related to substance abuse
Anxiety disorder not otherwise specifiedAnxiety reactions that do not fall in any of the above categories

Occurrence and Epidemiology of Anxiety disorder

Approximately 500 million individuals worldwide experience mental and behavioral illnesses. Psychiatric disorders are five of the top 10 global causes of disability and early death. Mental illnesses raise the likelihood of physical ailments in addition to being a huge psychological, social, and economic burden on society. According to estimates, by 2020, neuropsychiatric problems would account for 15% of all Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost globally as a result of illnesses and injuries (WHO, 2004).

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Depression and anxiety disorders are two of the most common psychiatric conditions. They cover a broad spectrum of distinct illnesses. The majority of anxiety problems first manifest in young children and adolescents. Evidence suggests that a large percentage of youngsters do not fully recover from their anxiety problems by the time they reach adolescence and adulthood. According to several assessments, one-eighth of all people worldwide suffer from anxiety. The prevalence rate of anxiety disorders throughout a lifetime is 24.9%. According to this information, anxiety disorders are more persistent than affective or drug use problems.


Management of anxiety

Though they are the most common psychiatric disease, anxiety disorders are only treated by less than 30% of those who have them. Numerous therapies and services can be helpful for people with anxiety problems. After a proper diagnosis, psychological therapy and mediation are among the potential treatments.

Psychological counseling

Almost always, psychotherapy is the preferred course of action, unless the anxiety is so extreme that rapid alleviation is required to resume functioning and avert severe and immediate repercussions. The following is included in this:

1) Behavioral therapies

These aim to lessen anxiety reactions or get rid of certain phobias by employing methods including guided imagery, relaxation training, biofeedback (to modulate stress and muscle tension), progressive desensitization, and flooding. The individual is gradually exposed to the thing or circumstance they are afraid of. At first, exposure might simply be through images or audio recordings. If at all possible, the individual afterward addresses the circumstance or item they are afraid of. Frequently, the therapist will go with the patient to offer support and direction.

2) Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Teaches patients how to cope with their worries by changing the way they think and act. By removing thoughts or actions that support the anxiety illness, CBT and behavioral therapy attempt to significantly reduce anxiety. According to studies, CBT is useful for treating a variety of anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder and social phobia.

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It consists of two parts. The cognitive element aids individuals in altering thought habits that prevent them from overcoming their phobias. The behavioral element of CBT aims to alter how individuals respond to events that cause anxiety. Exposure, in which people face their fears, is a crucial part of this component. CBT addresses ingrained, “automatic,” thoughts and feelings that come from fear.

3) Psychotherapy

The sole focus of psychotherapy is on talking therapy to resolve conflicts and pressures as well as the developmental components of anxiety disorders. A skilled mental health practitioner, such as a therapist, will listen to you talk during psychotherapy.

4) Parent education and family therapy

 In this context, the family and its dynamics are the main focus. This is founded on the idea that no family member can become a better person unless they are aware of the conflicts that arise during family interactions. Each participant is therefore expected to contribute to the solution of the issue at hand.

Plants that can be used to treat anxiety

According to the World Health Organization, herbal medicine is used by 80% of people worldwide. Many plants have demonstrated pronounced antianxiety activity, according to research on their anxiolytic properties. Randomized clinical trials were conducted to examine the effects of monoherbal preparations containing Scutellaria laterifolia, Centella asiatica, Paullinia cupana, Piper methysticum, Bacopa monniera, Cymbopogan citratus, Passiflofa incarnata, and Valerian officinalis on the reduction of anxiety . According to the research, Bacopa monniera  and Piper methysticum are linked to anxiolytic activity in humans. 


Anxiety disorders appear to be the psychiatric disorder with the largest prevalence rate, according to epidemiological data.  Conventional pharmacotherapy is limited by side effects such as psychomotor impairment, potentiation of other central depressant drugs, and dependence liability. As a result, researchers are looking into complementary and alternative therapies as well as drugs made from plants.

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