Anxiety and Mood Disorder

What is Anxiety?

We all get scared or worried from time to time. Usually fear is a good thing as it keeps us from getting too close to danger. Anxiety is the feeling of fear or panic. Most people feel anxious, panicky or fearful about situations in life such as exams, parties or busy playgrounds but once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calmer. Sometimes the feelings of fear or anxiety continue after the difficult situation or sometimes you may feel a stronger sense of fear than other people. This is when anxiety becomes a problem and can interfere with everyday activities and routines.

What does anxiety feel like?

When we feel we are in danger, our brains tell our bodies to get ready and run away quickly. This means that if you have anxiety you may feel sick, dizzy, as if your heart is racing, shortness of breath or have butterflies in your stomach as well as possibly having difficulty concentrating, being unable to relax, feeling worried, upset and worried.

Young people with anxiety usually experience anxiety in different ways. Anxieties are grouped based on what the fear or worry is about.

Anxiety disorders include disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioural disturbances. Fear is the emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is anticipation of a future threat. Obviously, these two states overlap, but they also differ, with fear or more often associated with surges of autonomic arousal necessary for fight or flight, thoughts of immediate danger, and escape behaviours, and anxiety more often associated with muscle tension and vigilance in preparation for future danger and cautious or avoidant behaviours.

Many anxiety disorders develop in childhood and tend to persist if not treated. Most occur more frequently in females than in males (2:1 ratio approximately).

Types of anxiety

Social Anxiety

Simply put, this is really bad shyness. You may be comfortable with people you know well but find it worrying to be with new people and in new places or social situations. Standing up in class or assembly can be extremely difficult for you as you are worried about making mistakes or about what others think about you. This means you may tend to avoid situations that involve other people. When this happens, it is important to seek help.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Some people feel anxious most of the time for no obvious reason. Young people who have generalised anxiety disorder worry a lot of the time and the anxiety makes doing everyday things difficult. When it is really bad it can stop you concentrating at school or having fun with friends and family.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety is feeling worried or anxious when you are away from your parents, family or guardians. It is normal for very young children to feel scared and worried when they are not with people who normally look after them. If it is still a problem when you are older or a teenager, this can make it difficult to go to school or go out with friends. If this happens, it is best to get help.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

  • an excessive fear concerning the separation from home or attachment figures
  • anxiety that exceeds what may be expected given the person’s developmental level
  • recurrent distress when there’s separation from the home or major attachment figures
  • worry about the well-being or death of attachment figures
  • worry about untoward events to themselves, such as getting lost, being kidnapped or having an accident.

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is charactarised by a consistent failure to speak in social situations in which there is an expectation to speak even though the individual speaks in other situations. The failure to speak has significant consequences on achievement in academic or occupational settings or otherwise interferes with normal social communication.

Phobias

Fear is a normal response to a genuine danger. With phobias, the fear is either irrational or excessive. It is an abnormal response to a danger that is either imagined or exaggerated. Phobias can be developed towards animals (e.g., spiders), activities (e.g., swimming), or social situations (e.g., eating in public or simply being in a public environment). Phobias affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, and in every part of the world.

Symptoms of anxiety based phobias

  • feelings of panic, dread, or horror
  • recognition that a fear may go beyond what is considered a normal fearful response
  • uncontrollable reactions that take over the person’s thoughts
  • palpitations, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, or trembling coupled with an overwhelming desire to flee a situation
  • extreme measures taken to avoid a feared subject

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social phobias are characterized by a marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking), and performing in front of others. In children, the anxiety must occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults.

What can I do if I think I may have or my child has anxiety?

The good thing is that anxiety is treatable and that there are things you can do yourself to reduce feelings of anxiety. There is a lot you can do with the help of family and good friends to feel better.

  • Try to give your child more time to get used to any changes that happen at home or school as change can be difficult when you worry a lot.
  • Check out whether you are picking up on someone else’s worry rather than it just being yours.
  • Get support from good friends and family. You might also want to talk to someone outside the family like a teacher or mentor.

How can anxiety disorders and symptoms be treated?

At Camali Clinics in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we offer talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is adapted to address your needs and the type of anxiety you present with. We can help children as well as adults.

CBT can help you understand and deal with the causes of your anxiety and our therapists are trained to help you find strategies to cope. You have the option of being seen on your own or with your family. Whatever is most comfortable for you.

Although CBT is the first line of treatment, occasionally CBT does not work on its own. We have a psychiatrist who is available to discuss medication to help if your anxiety problem has not got much better. A type of antidepressant known as an SSRI is most commonly used.

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