Coping with an anxiety disorder

Interviews, exams, public speaking, first date nerves... we all get anxious sometimes. The racing heart, shaking and sweaty hands and dry mouth are caused by the body releasing adrenaline and cortisol in to the bloodstream to prepare us to 'take flight or fight'.

Man with anxiety disorder
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Anxiety symptoms
A rapid heartbeat, a clenched stomach, diarrhoea, pain or heaviness in the chest, difficulty drawing breath, dizziness, shaking heads, a dry mouth and problems swallowing are all phsycial signs of anxiety.

Problems dropping off to sleep, feeling irritable or finding it hard to concentrate are also symptoms.

Causes of anxiety disorders
Life events, like a relationship break-up or bankruptcy can bring on axiety, but it can also be a sign of a medical issue - for example a thyroid disorder and depression or be linked to alcohol or drug abuse.

Different types of anxiety disorders
Your GP will diagnose which type of disorder you're suffering from - for example a panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. If you feel worried most of the time, you could be suffering from a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

Your GP may encourage you to have psychotherapy sessions and/or give you medication.

Tranquilisers, such as benzodiazepine tablets, are commonly prescribed for anxiety - but can be addictive so may be only a short term option.

Anxiety disorders associated with depression are sometimes treated with anti-depressants, while beta-blockers can help lesson physical symptoms, like a racing heart or shaking.

Helping yourself
Your doctor may also suggest that you try self help techniques, such as breathing techniques and relaxation exercises. You may also find that a support group can offer help.

Do you suffer with anxiety or live with someone who does? Share your experiences and advice in the comments box below...