Anxiety or worry is a normal response to stressful situations. However, in some cases, anxiety can become excessive or chronic, causing people to be unable to cope with everyday situations.
Persistent and ubiquitous anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Still, there are many anxiety-related disorders. One of them is panic disorder – seen in the form of anxiety brought on by certain triggers. Another is obsessive-compulsive disorder, a type of anxiety that causes persistent, intrusive thoughts or behaviors to engage in certain behaviors, such as constantly washing hands. Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after serious physical damage has occurred or after suffering a horrific event.
Anxiety often co-occurs with depression, and the two are thought to be twin faces. Like depression, anxiety occurs twice as often in adult women than men. Usually, anxiety first appears in childhood. Evidence suggests that both genes and the environment can contribute to disease. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, the development of the situation is not inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also activate the body’s normal fear processing system.
Anxiety is manifested by exaggerated anxiety and expectations of negative consequences in unknown situations, and these worries are often accompanied by physical symptoms. Behavioral treatments, with or without medication, to control symptoms have proven highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.
How is it formed?
The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped cluster of nuclei near the base of your brain. The function of the amygdala is to assess the emotional significance of what is happening around you, and particularly whether something in your environment is a threat to you.
It decides to do one of the body’s fight-or-flight responses when assessing the likelihood of a car speeding towards you on the street hitting you, or deciding whether a piece of wood next to you is a rattlesnake. That is, it helps you respond to a perceived threat. In people with anxiety disorders, the brain circuits that control the threat response go awry.
The fight-or-flight response is a healthy part of our biology, designed to ensure our survival and safety by preparing to safely emerge from dangerous situations. However, anxiety disorders occur if you continue to have a long-term fight-or-flight response when there is no danger.
How to Treat Anxiety
Anxiety disorders can often be successfully resolved with a combination of therapy and medication.
For therapy, patients undergo psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, where they learn to change how they respond to anxiety-provoking situations. Such treatments often involve gradually and controlled exposing patients to the situations they fear and changing the distorted thought patterns that underlie this condition.