Anxiety In Adults

Understanding Anxiety in Adults

Anxiety is a natural response to stress that can be experienced by anyone at any point in their lives. It is a normal emotion that can help people cope with difficult situations. However, when anxiety becomes excessive and persistent, it can interfere with a person's daily life and functioning. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that affect millions of adults in Australia and around the world.

It is essential to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, as anxiety disorders can be treatable with the right support and resources. This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of anxiety disorders in adults and provide helpful tips and strategies for managing anxiety in daily life.

Understanding Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. 

Each type of anxiety disorder has its specific symptoms, but common signs of anxiety include excessive worry, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

Anxiety disorders can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors, and they are often treated with a combination of therapy and medication.

Who is at risk for anxiety disorders?

Both genetic and environmental factors influence a person's risk for developing anxiety; for instance, you'd be at higher risk for mental illness if you:

  • Exhibited traits like feeling uncomfortable, inhibited, or unfamiliar around people or in a particular environment.
  • Suffered from traumatic events or stressful memories during early childhood days or throughout years of adulthood.
  • Have a family history (maternal and/or paternal) of anxiety or other mental health conditions and physical conditions.

Types of Anxiety Disorders in Adults

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own set of symptoms and causes. The most common types include:

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Generalised anxiety disorder is a chronic condition characterised by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday situations. GAD causes sleeping problems and other physical symptoms like restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

Panic disorder

This type of anxiety disorder causes sudden and intense feelings of fear and panic, causing physical and emotional stress. If the panic attacks get particularly intense and frequent, sufferers often worry about when the next attack will occur.

A typical panic attack includes the following symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • The feeling of being choked

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition in which a person experiences recurring thoughts or obsessions and engages in repetitive behaviours or compulsions to relieve the anxiety caused by these thoughts.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, war, or violent crime. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of triggers associated with the trauma.

Social anxiety disorder

This is a condition in which a person experiences intense fear and anxiety in social situations, such as public speaking or meeting new people.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some of the most common causes of anxiety in adults.

Genetic Factors

Research has shown that anxiety disorders can run in families. If one or both parents have an anxiety disorder, their children are more likely to develop one as well. However, having a family history of anxiety does not necessarily mean that a person will develop the disorder.

Environmental Triggers

Stressful life events such as divorce, financial problems, or the death of a loved one can trigger anxiety. Traumatic events such as abuse, violence, or accidents can also cause anxiety disorders. Additionally, ongoing stress from work, school, or relationships can contribute to the development of anxiety.

Children that suffer from separation anxiety disorder often have anxious feelings due to environmental triggers, like school drop-off, which in turn can make their parents feel anxious too.

Brain Chemistry

Anxiety disorders are also thought to be related to imbalances in brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine play a role in regulating mood and anxiety. When these chemicals are out of balance, it can lead to symptoms of anxiety.

Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder

Physical Symptoms

Anxiety can manifest in a variety of physical symptoms, including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or stomach upset
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Cognitive Effects

Anxiety can also have a significant impact on a person's thoughts and cognitive processes. Some common cognitive symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing thoughts
  • Negative self-talk or self-doubt
  • Imagining the worst-case scenario
  • Obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours

Behavioural Changes

Anxiety can also lead to a variety of behavioural changes, including:

  • Avoiding certain situations or activities
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Restlessness or fidgeting
  • Social withdrawal or isolation

These behavioural changes can have a significant impact on a person's relationships, work, and overall quality of life.

Treatment and Management

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. A trained mental health professional can help the patient understand and manage their anxiety through various techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and other forms of psychotherapy.

CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to anxiety. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the patient to the object or situation that triggers their anxiety in a safe and controlled environment.

Medication

Medications can also be used to manage anxiety disorders. Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines and buspirone can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are also commonly used to treat anxiety disorders.

It is important to note that medications should always be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep can also help manage anxiety. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.

A healthy diet can also positively impact mental health, as certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms. Getting enough sleep is also important, as lack of sleep can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation have also been shown to help manage anxiety. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific points of the body to help alleviate symptoms.

Yoga and meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can help manage anxiety symptoms.

It is important to note that alternative therapies should always be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment and should not be used as a standalone solution.

Coping Strategies

Anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating, but some strategies can help manage it. Here are a few coping strategies that can be effective for adults experiencing anxiety:

Stress Management Techniques

Stress management techniques can help reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing tension. Some effective stress management techniques include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. These techniques can be practised anywhere, anytime, and can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Support Networks

Having a support network can help manage anxiety. Talking to someone about your worries and fears can help you gain perspective and feel less alone. Support networks include family, friends, support groups, and mental health professionals. It is important to find a support network that works for you and to reach out for help when needed.

Self-Care Practices

Self-care practices can help reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and self-compassion. Some self-care practices that can be helpful include exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy. It is important to prioritise self-care and make time for activities that promote well-being.

Adaptive Solutions

Sensory clothing is becoming increasingly popular, as the feel of ordinary clothing on the skin can be overwhelming or irritating for those suffering from anxiety. Sometimes it can be as simple as the feel of the inside of the logo on a shirtthat can cause stress, break concentration and result in the wearer becoming more focused on their clothing and rearranging it rather than the task at hand.

Sensory clothing has self-regulating effects which helps the body to filter information more efficiently, calm the system and avoid the wearer becoming overwhelmed.

Are you feeling anxious?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common disorders in adults. Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted to find new and effective ways to treat anxiety disorders. In recent times, there have been significant advancements in treatments, and technological innovations.

Anxiety can have a significant impact on an individual's daily life, affecting their ability to work, socialise, and maintain personal relationships. It is essential to seek professional help if anxiety symptoms are interfering with daily activities.

For more information on Anxiety Disorders visit Health Direct

If you or a loved one is living with anxiety, try our JettProof sensory singlets and compression bedding.