Anxiety is a normal and natural response to stressful situations. It triggers our body’s inbuilt mechanism to help us get away from a threat and it can be helpful to understand what’s going on behind the scenes when we feel our stress levels rising. As we start to become anxious, our adrenal glands release various hormones to help us cope with whatever stressors we’re up against. Cortisol increases the glucose levels in our blood stream to feed our vital organs when it’s needed the most. At the same time, it slows down some other bodily functions that aren’t so crucial in a fight or flight situation. Meanwhile, adrenaline increases the heart rate, elevates our blood pressure and boosts energy and Oxygen supplies to where it is most needed. Together this hormonal combination gives us the best chance of coping with the situation we’re facing. But whilst this response can be a life-saver in some circumstances, a state of anxiety that becomes too intense or too prolonged can have a detrimental impact on our health and well-being.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.
Sign and symptoms
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about a number of things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. The fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work.
Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:
- Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
- Being irritable
- Having muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
2. Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.
During a panic attack, people may experience:
- Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
- Feelings of impending doom
- Feelings of being out of control
3. Phobia-related disorders
A phobia is an intense fear of—or aversion to—specific objects or situations. Although it can be realistic to be anxious in some circumstances, the fear people with phobias feel is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by the situation or object.
People with a phobia:
- May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
- Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
- Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
- Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety
There are several types of phobias and phobia-related disorders:
Specific Phobias (sometimes called simple phobias): As the name suggests, people who have a specific phobia have an intense fear of, or feel intense anxiety about, specific types of objects or situations. Some examples of specific phobias include the fear of:
- Specific animals, such as spiders, dogs, or snakes
- Receiving injections
- Social anxiety disorder (previously called social phobia): People with social anxiety disorder have a general intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations. They worry that actions or behaviors associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. Social anxiety disorder can manifest in a range of situations, such as within the workplace or the school environment.
- Agoraphobia: People with agoraphobia have an intense fear of two or more of the following situations:
- Using public transportation
- Being in open spaces
- Being in enclosed spaces
- Standing in line or being in a crowd
- Being outside of the home alone
- People with agoraphobia often avoid these situations, in part, because they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible in the event, they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. In the most severe form of agoraphobia, an individual can become housebound.
4. Separation anxiety disorder
Separation anxiety is often thought of as something that only children deal with; however, adults can also be diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder. People who have separation anxiety disorder have fears about being parted from people to whom they are attached. They often worry that some sort of harm or something untoward will happen to their attachment figures while they are separated. This fear leads them to avoid being separated from their attachment figures and to avoid being alone. People with separation anxiety may have nightmares about being separated from attachment figures or experience physical symptoms when separation occurs or is anticipated.
5. Selective mutism
A somewhat rare disorder associated with anxiety is selective mutism. Selective mutism occurs when people fail to speak in specific social situations despite having normal language skills. Selective mutism usually occurs before the age of 5 and is often associated with extreme shyness, fear of social embarrassment, compulsive traits, withdrawal, clinging behavior, and temper tantrums. People diagnosed with selective mutism are often also diagnosed with other anxiety disorders.
- Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
- Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
- A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
- Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmia, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder.
There are different remedies that effectively treat anxiety. The homeopathic medicines for treating anxiety are made of natural substances, making them safe for use without any side effects. These are used to treat anxiety that varies from mild to severe in intensity (like general nervousness to panic attacks). They work by seeking insights into the psychology of the person to bring about a complete recovery. Since these are natural and not habit forming, there is no risk of drug dependency.
Most cases of anxiety that fall under the category of mild to moderate intensity are treatable with homeopathy. In cases of chronic anxiety of high intensity, homeopathy can help manage the symptoms.
This is a useful remedy when there are sudden feelings of intense panic. There is a lot of fear, even a fear of death, which could be triggered by a shock or a traumatic experience. There may be palpitations, shortness of breath and a flushed face. This remedy is also useful at the very early stages of flu, especially when there is pain, waves of chilliness and anxiety. Symptoms tend to be worse after midnight, in the early hours.
This medicine for anxiety about health where the person experiences extreme restlessness. Symptoms like changing positions from one side to another, sadness, gloom, fear, trembling, chilliness, weakness, and nausea that gets worse after midnight indicate the need for this medicine.
Argentum Nitricum is a natural medicine for anxiety that links with anticipation, also known as anticipatory anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety means anxiety from constant thoughts about events that are about to take place in the future. For example, a person may get anxious about a public meeting to be attended in the future. The person tends to think constantly about the event until the final day. Diarrhoea may set in during the anxiety phase. Hurriedness and impatience, and weakness in the legs are other associated symptoms.
Gelsemium Sempervirens is used for anxiety related to making a public appearance. If the individual has to go and engage with many different people, excessive anxiety and nervousness arise, along with exhaustion and drowsiness. Sadness, melancholy, and confusion of mind, irritability, and diarrhoea are associated symptoms. This medicine also works for stage fright.
Opium is a remedy for anxiety that arises from fright. The person needing Opium usually has a history of some sort of fearful incidence in the past that triggers the anxiety. The terror of that episode reoccurs time and again, leading to bouts of anxiety. Nervousness, uneasiness, and irritability along with fear and anxiety appear.
Calcarea Carb is for anxiety with fear of some impending misfortune where the person develops an intense fear of some terrible mishappening. Symptoms like palpitations, shuddering, and restlessness with anxiety, sweating and trembling, nausea and a fear of death and hopelessness indicate the need for this medicine. The anxiety tends to get worse at night.
Phosphorus is for anxiety about the future where the person experiences sadness, restlessness, melancholy, indifference, weariness from everyday life and extreme irritability. Sweating on the forehead, nervous exhaustion and fatigue are other associated symptoms, and these tend to get worse in the evening.
Coffea cruda is for anxiety with sleeplessness. Thoughts crowd a person’s mind when attempting to sleep, along with palpitations and nervousness. The person may toss and turn from side to side in the bed in anguish and remain wide awake all night due to anxiety.
Ignatia Amara is for anxiety with depression. The person has anxiety as a result of long-standing grief from the past. Sadness, social isolation, and aversion to talking are the predominant symptoms, along with brooding about past events. There is also an aversion to speaking, and sudden mood changes may occur.
Kali Phos is for anxiety coupled with weakness and fatigue. The person needing Kali Phos experiences dread, fear, nervousness and anxiety. Slight noises tend to trigger anxiety, and the person may feel tired and fatigued all the time. An aversion to being alone, weariness from everyday life, negative thinking and excessive sensitiveness are other symptoms.
Lilium Tigrinum is a homeopathic medicine for anxiety where a person fears contracting an incurable disease. The symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, and hurriedness. Palpitations, fear of becoming insane and fear of being alone are present. Remaining busy or engaged in work relieves the symptoms.