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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

Anxiety Disorder: Diagnosis and Cure

The force of your arguments win you a case, any number of lawyers would tell you that. Most of the cases that are won are winnable right from the start, and though lawyers are credited for them, there is not much for the lawyer to do in it. Then, there are cases that are no cakewalk, and the lawyer has to really fight hard to have the decision in his favour. These are the cases that turn ordinary lawyers into legal authorities. So, what exactly is the 'force of argument'? Well, it is partly what you say, but more than that it is the way you say. In short, it's about skilled presentation of arguments.

What if the lawyer, despite excellent preparation, fails to deliver? What if when his turn comes he gets tongue-tied and fails to respond to the questions posed by the judge? Worse still, what if he just starts sweating profusely and simply finds himself unable to speak at all? Now, this might appear to be very unusual thing to happen to lawyers, for they are known for the smoothness of speech. But then, this is not a sudden departure of ability, but a condition called 'anxiety disorder'.

It is important to understand what anxiety disorders are, not only because there are many kinds of it, but also because acute nervousness may also be mistaken for such disorder, which might, in certain situations, be a problem. Anxiety disorder is not a disease caused by some bacteria or virus, but is simply an unhealthy mental response to certain situations. Therefore, if a person genuinely starts believing that he suffers from a disorder of that kind, he might end up triggering the disorder by his belief itself.

It is, therefore, crucial that anxiety disorders are diagnosed right and appropriate treatment is started without delay, failing which the disorder can further complicate and may also turn quite unmanageable. Often, anxiety disorder starts as normal anxiety and gets progressively difficult and disabling throwing the patient's life out of gear. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of anxiety disorder so as to know when you actually need help, and when it is nothing more than regular nervousness gone a bit out of hand.

One of the symptoms is increased blood pressure resulting in rapid heartbeat and constriction of the blood vessels in arms and legs. So, the next time you feel uncomfortable and start sweating with an increased heartbeat with a headache and cold fingers, it could be the anxiety disorder pumping your blood pressure up. However, just because your blood pressure shot up does not mean you have anxiety disorder. It is just a symptom of it and not a sure indicator.

Another indicator could be reduced saliva secretions and spasmodic sensations within the oesophagus, and these could make your mouth dry, make it difficult for you to swallow. Constipation and cramping in the stomach might also be noticed.

Anxiety disorder may also result in reduced libido and males might find it difficult to sustain erection while women may have difficulties getting aroused and climaxing.

Tensing of muscles is also a common symptom. So, a patient of anxiety disorder can find himself or herself trembling, and may also suffer from tension headaches on account of irritation in the muscles.

One might also feel continuously apprehensive about things and may behave impatiently and also come across as irritable. Difficulties with sleeping and concentrating may also occur, and one might also feel tired without reason.

The complicated part is that all the symptoms do not appear in all patients uniformly. Some of the symptoms may simply not occur in some people and sometimes there may be only one or two symptoms despite the condition. And if there are only a few symptoms, they could as well be caused by some ailment other than anxiety disorder. Right diagnosis of the condition, therefore, becomes as difficult as it is crucial.

Furthermore, it is not enough to diagnose that a person is suffering from anxiety disorder. The kind of anxiety disorder one is suffering must also be ascertained for effective treatment. In other words, it needs to be clearly found if one is suffering from a general anxiety disorder or is it a specific kind, like panic attack.

Symptoms are generally quite helpful in the diagnosis. If you are almost always quite anxious and go through episodes of intense panic, it is possible that you are suffering from panic disorder and not just a general anxiety disorder.

The second indicator that you might not be suffering from general anxiety disorder but of a particular kind is when you are worried about some personal tragedy that might occur or are very jittery or complete loss of control over yourself. This could be a sign of panic disorder, which is closest to general anxiety disorder. People who suffer from general anxiety disorder are worried about the way they stand in relation to other people. So, their worries are regarding their job, adjusting with new people, making new friends and so on. However, in case of panic attacks the patient worries about losing control of himself. So, they are constantly thinking about the possibility of fainting or having a heart attack or causing a great deal of embarrassment to themselves. Therefore, while general anxiety disorder is about dealing with and coming up to the expectations of others, panic attacks are more about excessive worry of failing to control oneself.

Once the diagnosis has been made and the problem identified, the next step is the cure. There are a good number of medicines available, but most of them deal with the symptoms and not the problem, which is primarily because the solution lies in being in better control of oneself and having a different perspective on the situations and circumstances.

General anxiety disorder has been found to respond very satisfactorily to the treatment involving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The therapy involves learning ways to have helpful perspective on one's situation thereby controlling one's response to one's environment, which, in turn, reduces anxiety to a large extent. One learns to look at one's worries in a more realistic fashion.

Some of the researches have shown that general anxiety disorder can be completely cured in 3 to 4 months through CBT if one is willing to work on it. CBT requires wholehearted cooperation of the one suffering from the condition. It is certainly quite a struggle to change the way your brain responds to the circumstances, but that is exactly what needs to be changed, and there is no better way - perhaps no other way at all - to do it than to have the mind work on itself.


Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical opinion or advice.

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