Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Continuing with my discussion about sleeplessness, stress and anxiety, I'd like to say a few things about anxiety and anxiety disorders. Much like stress, a little anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is a normal reaction in some situations, and can help us focus under stress.

Anxiety can become a problem if it becomes pervasive, or excessive and irrational. It can become a disabling disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists five major types of anxiety disorder:

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder,
an chronic anxiety disorder characterized by exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it, and it seems there is no relief for the anxiety. It may include physical symptoms, such as headaches, tension, fatigue, irritability, or sweating.

2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Also known as OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions such as recurrent thoughts and/or compulsions. Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed in hopes of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. These repetitive behaviors provide only temporary relief, and not performing them can increase anxiety.

3. Panic Disorder, which manifests as unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear or terror, which may be accompanied by physical symptoms including chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.

4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) an anxiety disorder that may occur after exposure to a terrifying accident or event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent assaults, natural disasters, accidents, or military combat.

5. Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia, which manifests as overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in social situations. Social phobia may be limited to a specific situation — such as a fear of public speaking , or eating or drinking with others — or, in its most severe form, a person may experience symptoms whenever there are other people around.

Each of these disorders has a range of severity, from barely noticeable, to absolutely debilitating. Anyone with a serious disorder should consult with their doctor, or an appropriate mental health professional.

Each of these anxiety disorders may contribute to sleeplessness and insomnia. I will discuss some herbal remedies which have been traditionally been used for stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and insomnia, beginning tomorrow.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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