Everybody knows the feeling of fear and worry. It is a normal reaction that protects us from the dangers of everyday life, often quite unconsciously. But when does normal anxiety stop, where does it become a pathological anxiety disorder? What are the causes of anxiety disorders? When anxiety exceeds a normal level, when it is unfounded, when there is no real threat, when it limits everyday life and quality of life, then it becomes an anxiety disorder and you should seek psychiatric and psychotherapeutic help.
There are different forms: Panic disorder includes sudden attacks of anxiety with violent physical and psychological symptoms such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness, feeling unsafe, feeling like fainting, weak knees, dizziness, palpitations or irregular heartbeat, trembling, sweating, sweating, choking feelings, tightness in the throat, nausea, abdominal discomfort, feelings of alienation (feelings of unreality, feelings of not being there), hot flashes or chills, pain, pressure in the chest, fear of dying, fear of losing control or going insane, numbness or tingling sensations. These attacks can last up to 30 minutes, up to several times a day. Often, such a panic attack occurs in conjunction with what is called agoraphobia: in crowds, in public places, traveling long distances from home or traveling alone, standing in a line, in an elevator, bus, airplane, or driving a car. Social phobia is an extreme type of shyness. It occurs anxiety when people feel critically judged or observed in situations. Such situations include giving a speech, speaking up or writing something on the board in a lesson, taking an exam, talking to a supervisor, standing up to others in an argument, eating in a restaurant, talking to a stranger, dating someone, meeting a woman/man. A specific phobia is an exaggerated fear of individual things or situations that are not dangerous in themselves, such as exams, spiders, syringes, or flying. With these fears, you experience the same discomfort as with a panic attack. A generalized anxiety disorder presents somewhat differently. Here, you experience worries or fears covering many areas of life and are not limited to specific situations. Throughout the day, one feels internally restless, tense, nervous, and has a sense of approaching disaster. Physically, one experiences persistent heart palpitations, trembling, sweating, cold and clammy hands, dry mouth, nausea, "lump feeling" in the throat, muscle tension in the back.
The reasons why anxiety disorders develop are complex. Past or currently stressful life events, personality factors, social stress, and neurobiological and hereditary factors are considered causes. Other existing mental or physical illnesses can also promote the occurrence of an anxiety disorder.
Consultation of the specialist for psychiatry & neurology in Munich involves history taking, which includes questions about complaints, everyday life and the past. If the diagnosis is confirmed, anxiety disorders can generally be treated well. Detailed counseling often already leads to relief. Treatment options include medication, social support, physical activity, relaxation and self-help techniques, and psychotherapy. Depending on the type and severity of anxiety, impairments and personal preferences, a joint decision will be made on which therapeutic approaches to select and combine for your treatment plan. If left untreated, there is a risk that anxiety will take on a life of its own and become chronic. The longer the symptoms persist, the more difficult it is to successfully treat anxiety disorders. Sometimes those affected try to treat themselves and resort to alcohol or tranquilizers. This leads only to short-term relief and, in the worst case, to dependency.
About five to 15 percent of people suffer from anxiety disorders at least once in their lives. It is a disorder. The most important thing is to go to a specialist who, with a lot of psychiatric knowledge and experience, can quickly diagnose and treat it.