INTRODUCTION TO ANXIETY DISORDER
Feeling anxious from time to time is nothing unusual, but it becomes an issue if your anxiety is overwhelming you and affecting your daily life. Anxiety disorders take many forms, including Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Phobia and Separation Anxiety Disorder.
For more information on mental health conditions, you may refer to the Community Mental Health Resource Directory.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Panic disorders are characterized by panic attacks, sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly without any prediction. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.
- A panic attack will cause your heartbeat to speed up, shortness of breath, nausea and fear of dying or going out of control.
- You may experience sweating or hot flushes or feel shaky.
- Panic attacks come abruptly and peak after a few minutes, but the sensations they produce cannot be explained by medical reasons.
- Being concerned about future attacks, worrying over the implications of the symptoms, and even significant changes in behaviour (such as quitting a job to stay home).
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Difficulty concentrating on your daily tasks
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling more restless or irritable than usual
- Fatigue and body aches
- Continuous and unnecessary worry about everyday activities or events
- Exaggerated worry of the issues or events at hand
- Might occur alongside other anxiety disorders or depression
- Fatigue and body aches
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES
Biological: You may have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders if your family members have it. However, scientists have not yet identified the gene that causes anxiety disorders. Physical illnesses may also precipitate anxiety, which makes it more difficult to treat both the anxiety and physical illnesses. Some common physical illnesses include hormonal problems (such as thyroid disorder) or heart diseases.
Personality: People who are perfectionists, over-controlling, easily flustered and lack self-esteem may also have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders.
Social: Everyday life events can sometimes trigger anxiety, such as:
- Change in jobs
- Stress buildup due to an illness or a life-altering event
- Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event
- Change in living arrangements
- Family and relationship problems
- Experiencing a major emotional shock following a stressful event
- Experiencing verbal, sexual, physical, emotional abuse or trauma
- Death or loss of a loved one
HOW IT IS TREATED
If you think you or someone you know may have anxiety disorder, you should seek advice from a mental health professional. Treatment comes in two main forms: Psychological treatments: Involves using therapeutic techniques which can help manage the anxiety. Medication: There is evidence to suggest that people with an anxiety disorder may have chemical imbalances in their brain. Medications can restore balance.
Source: Singapore Silver Pages, an initiative by the Agency for Integrated Care. Reproduced with permission.
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