Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, people with anxiety disorders find it hard to control their worries. A psychiatrist discusses the symptoms of anxiety, why it becomes a problem for some people, and the psychological and drug treatments for it.

Find out how anxiety disorders are diagnosed

Transcript of Anxiety

My name's Lynne Drummond, I work as a consultant psychiatrist,

specialising in OCD, body dysmorphic disorder and anxiety disorders.

Anxiety's a universal experience.

Everybody that lives on Earth has had anxiety from time to time

and in different situations.

There's usually two components to anxiety.

There's the tray anxiety which is the background level of anxiety,

which can vary from individual to individual.

So some people are naturally very anxious about lots of things,

the rather cautious people,

and some people are much less anxious, much more laid back.

Anxiety only becomes a problem

if it is much more severe

or frequent than the patient is used to or can tolerate.

The symptoms of anxiety can be split into two major components,

that's physical and emotional symptoms.

On the physical side it can affect almost any part of the body

and any system of the body.

So the most common ones are shaking, sweating, feeling your heart pound,

feeling difficulty in getting a breath or breathing very rapidly,

muscle pains, headaches, a feeling of tension, etcetera.

With the emotional symptoms,

they're often a feeling of impending doom, a feeling of loss of control,

a fear that you're going to go mad or do something inappropriate.

Anxiety is a symptom, it's not a diagnosis in its own right,

and so anxiety can accompany a whole range

of psychological conditions which can range from depression, phobic disorder,

obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other psychological problems.

I think the important thing is that it's recognised.

For the treatment of anxiety there's really two strands.

One is drug treatment and the other is psychological treatment.

From the point of view of psychological treatment,

these treatments are actually time-limited

and work on the basis of trying to work collaboratively with the sufferer.

In terms of drug treatments,

really, drug treatments are not usually used for phobic disorder,

with the exception of social phobia.

But in obsessive-compulsive disorder,

we tend to use a set of drugs known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SRIs,

and with those drugs there is evidence you may need to continue it for life,

and that actually stopping the drug may cause relapse.

For that reason, I think it's often a good idea to do the combination therapy

and then once you've done the psychological therapy

to try and tail off the drug,

obviously looking for any sign of relapse.

I think the most important thing, which I'm always having to say to people,

is, whether you've got a mild anxiety disorder or a very, very severe disorder

and no matter whether you've had it for ten minutes or forty years,

actually anxiety is a very treatable condition and you can improve.

I think that's the message that I'd really like people to take on board,

to understand and to come forward,

because a lot of people suffer in silence for far, far, far too long.


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