Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent clinical conditions in the mental health field worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, about 260 million people in the world suffer from some anxiety disorder. It is important to clarify this problem before understanding the characteristics of this pathology, its various subtypes, severity levels, causes and treatment.
Anxiety is a sensation that all people experience at some point in their lives in situations that can generate stress and worry. This situation constitutes a normal response of the mood. However, when the anxiety does not disappear after that moment, other physical symptoms begin to manifest and the daily tasks of those who suffer it are affected. In these cases, one can begin to suspect the existence of some type of anxiety disorder and depending on each person can be moderate or severe. This last will depend on the duration of the same, the frequency and the degree of affectation on the daily life of the patient.
Moderate anxiety disorders are accompanied by feelings of agitation, and restlessness. Often people with this level of anxiety, are on alert and nervous. They begin to focus and worry excessively about small details. Physical manifestations of moderate anxiety include muscle stiffness, blurred vision that may result from enlarged pupils, excessive sweating, increased urge to urinate, chest tightness, migraines, and difficulty falling asleep. Other symptoms may include: lack of concentration, inattention, difficulty solving problems. Finally, those who suffer from this degree of anxiety disorder may have a loss of self-esteem, are impatient, and have excessive fear of situations that arise.
When the symptoms described above are maintained more frequently and intensified we are faced with a severe anxiety disorder. People who are diagnosed with this level of anxiety remain most of the time concerned about the circumstances surrounding it. They have the permanent feeling that some aspect of their life will be triggered in the worst way. At this level of anxiety increases the feeling of fear, so that it can become transformed into what is known as a panic attack. At that moment, anxiety and despair prevail. The most common physical symptoms are severe muscle stiffness, hyperventilation, increased heartbeat, sweating, and belly pain. In turn these patients begin to lose the sense of the general perception, the capacity of concentration is affected considerably and difficulties appear to think with lucidity. In many cases when a person suffers from severe anxiety and particularly in the face of a panic attack, he begins to think that he has some disease or in the most serious cases the possibility of dying.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the leading reference for classifications of mental health pathologies and provides rigorous evidence-based information about the characteristics of various psychiatric illnesses. Regarding anxiety disorders, DSM IV classifies them into several clinical categories, among which are generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders and phobia. The validity of this manual is extremely important as it is the main element with scientific support through which physicians can perform the specific diagnosis of different types of anxiety disorders. In addition to this reference, the clinician should assess, the clinical history, perform a clinical examination that will primarily consist of a conversation with the patient.
Although anxiety disorders can be very diverse and vary according to the individual there are different types of treatments that allow a very good control of these pathologies. On the other hand if these types of disorders are not treated can trigger other problems of greater gravity. In the first place, the daily life of the patient will be increasingly affected, presenting inconveniences with his obligations as work as well as in his most intimate environment. Thus the patient will become more and more isolated. Also, if these disorders persist over time, there are more likely to develop other pathologies such as depressive symptoms. This can also increase the propensity for affected people to seek escape through the use of alcohol or other substances.
There are two types of treatment widely used for the management of anxiety disorders. On the one hand, it is possible to mention cognitive-behavioral techniques within psychotherapy, to which psychologists assiduously resort. This therapy has proven effective in many cases. Broadly speaking, the aim of this treatment is to use certain methods that contribute to diminish and even curb the negative behaviors and sensations typical of these pathologies. Among other methods, the patient should learn some breathing modes to counteract several of the physical symptoms associated with anxiety.
The other option that is usually used and has demonstrated excellent effectiveness is the pharmacological treatment. In general terms, drug therapy aims to act on affected sectors of the central nervous system to regularize the functioning of the same. The drugs most prescribed by doctors are anxiolytics. Before indicating this type of drug it is important that the doctor identifies the kind of anxiety disorder that the person suffers as well as briefly investigate certain traits of his personality. For example, if you are an individual with behavioral abuse or dependence, anxiolytics are not the most recommended drugs.
Within the anxiolytic group, benzodiazepines are the most commonly used drugs and are considered as the second line treatment. Fundamentally benzodiazepines are used for those short-term treatments. This is due to the objective of avoiding side effects that may appear in some cases when administered for long periods of time. The most commonly administered benzodiazepines are those considered to be the most potent. There may be mentioned diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam and triazolam.
Finally, the pharmacological treatment that is listed as the first line are antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The most recognized and used are fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, among others. Medical evidence from various clinical trials has shown that this group of drugs are highly effective in reducing anxiety. In addition it has very few adverse effects if it is administered correctly with the precautions of each particular case.