Anxiety as a disease
Signs of an anxiety disorder are present if anxiety stops happening as an individual occurrence related a particular event and starts taking place more frequently and without a clear cause. This kind of disorder can express itself in many different ways. When it reaches the point of having a clear impact on everyday life and making it worse, the situation has become pathological and should be treated.
Different forms of pathological anxiety
There are three different major forms of anxiety as a disease that requires treatment:
- Phobias – Anxiety about objects or encounters (with situations, spaces, things, people, or animals) that are actually harmless and are no objective reason to feel fear. Common and well-known forms include animal-related phobias (such as arachnophobia, the fear of spiders) or agoraphobia (literally "fear of the marketplace"), a fear of certain settings such as large open spaces.
- Panic attacks – Sudden spells of anxiety without a clear cause; they cause an extreme reaction in the vegetative nervous system. For example: if you get an uneasy feeling in your stomach, your heart may start pounding, and you might even think you're having a heart attack. This in turn amplifies your anxiety, makes you short of breath, and you may work yourself up into distress because of the troublesome thoughts and physical complaints.
- Generalised anxiety disorder – Worries and anxieties which develop a long-term effect on the way people feel and think. Anxiety then becomes a permanent condition defined by constant worrying about potential dangers and accidents. Unwarranted concerns can no longer be brought under control. The consequences can include increased irritability, difficulties concentrating and sleeping, headaches, nausea, and tense muscles. Physicians refer to this situation as a generalised anxiety disorder if the symptoms last for at least six months and are present on most days.
One disease can lead to the next
Something that all anxiety disorders – including their precursors or milder forms – have in common is hyperactivity of the brain. Since certain neurotransmitters are out of balance, sensory stimuli have a nearly unfiltered effect, and it triggers an emotional reaction: anxiety.
This is not the only reason to seek treatment, however. Anxiety burdens the body in many different ways and paves the way for other complaints and even diseases. It is often linked to low stress resistance, depression, burnout, and cardiovascular problems.