While it is normal to feel anxious and nervous in some high pressure situations like job interviews or college presentations, some people tend to develop acute anxiety when facing such situations. Hence, there appears to be an underlying difference between feeling anxious and facing an anxiety disorder.
To better understand the differences between feeling anxious and struggling with an anxiety disorder, we spoke to Kamna Chhibber, Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.
Chibber clarified right at the onset, that a feeling of anxiety is a normal emotion that any individual can experience. She mentioned how this feeling has its own evolutionary value, as it warns us about the stressful environment or situations engulfing us. Hence, feeling worried or anxious is normal, as per the expert.
When it comes to an anxiety disorder, Chibber remarked that an individual facing an anxiety disorder, will tend to feel anxious even when the situation is not warranting such a reaction. It is a physiological and thought-related experience of an individual, often triggered by an incorrect, irrational, and illogical perception or association with respect to a particular situation. The anxiety is far beyond than a mere feeling of worry, in such scenarios, adds Chibber.
She highlighted an anxiety disorder that stops functionality, especially in the context of relationships, work, or doing household chores. This is when you can classify the condition as a disorder.
Chibber pointed out that the symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be bucketed into two categories:
The symptoms range from overthinking, constant rumination, feeling worried, thoughts running in different directions, anxiousness, and irritability.
Heart palpitations, sweating in palms, leg and feet turning cold, nausea, fear, restlessness, lack of focus and concentration, and disconnected behaviour, are some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
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Chibber pointed out that sleep may not be necessarily impacted when struggling with this disorder. However, she highlighted that a constant feeling of worry and anxiety, in some cases, may keep you up till late hours. The adverse impact on sleep is associated with depression, rather than anxiety, said Chibber.
Chibber said that a dual approach is followed when dealing with cases of anxiety disorder:
Medicines: Various anti-anxiety medications are available, and physiatrists prescribe them based on the symptom profile of the patient.
Therapy: Therapy helps to manage anxiety by aiding the patient to develop coping strategies, and improves overall functionality. It is also a useful technique to identify and rectify errors in thought processes or emotional state, ensuring that it does not impact relationships and the daily life of the patient. Chibber further explained that there are various therapy modalities available. These modalities include cognitive behaviour therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and interpersonal therapy. These modalities are used depending on the requirements of the patient.
So ladies, be mindful of these differences and ensure to seek timely professional help if you experience any symptoms of an anxiety disorder.