Symptoms and Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of  traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Experts don't know exactly what causes anxiety disorders.; but anxiety disorders -- like other forms of mental illness -- are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.A person's genetics, biochemistry, environment, history, and psychological profile can all contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. Most people with these disorders seem to have a biological vulnerability to stress, making them more susceptible to environmental stimuli than the rest of the population.
There is no single factor that causes anxiety disorders but a number of risk factors that may to contribute to their development.
  • Instinct: Certain fears are innate and made  sense at some time in our development. Today, we can see these instinctive survival roots in many forms of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people are afraid of snakes despite never having been bit by one, while people are rarely phobic of stoves despite having been burnt many times.
  • Temperament: We are all different. Some of us  are simply more anxious than others. That’s just the way we are. The common personality trait in individuals who are prone to anxiety disorders is the way they think in absolute terms. They don’t easily let go. Residual danger remains in most circumstances that create anxiety. This fact clashes with people who think in absolute terms and creates anxiety disorders. Also, Individuals with low self-esteem and poor coping skills are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
  • Environment: Our attitudes are greatly influenced by our families, our schooling, our friends, and our society. We would be very different if we were raised in different countries and by different parents. Issues such as poverty, early separation from the family, family conflict, critical parents, and the lack of a strong support system can all lead to chronic anxiety.
  • Brain chemistry: A chemical imbalance of brain signaling molecules or stress hormones (cortisol) may contribute to anxiety disorder development.
  • Genetics: Genetic factors may play a role in anxiety disorder development. One risk factor may be a biological vulnerability to stress. 
  • Trauma: Anxiety disorders may develop following a traumatic event or early life abuse

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