Anxiety Disorders are one of the most commonly treated disorders by Singapore psychiatrists. Treatment is not difficult but again best started early. Fear and “Anxiety” are common emotions that we have all felt at some point of our lives. Anxiety can be described as a tense emotional state associated with a feeling of impending danger, often accompanied by bodily symptoms.
It has also been used to describe the mental and physical response to a feared situation. This would take the form of the Flight or fight response. Anxiety symptoms can however get out of hand, impairing one’s usual functioning and leading to the development of an Anxiety Disorder. Estimated prevalence of Anxiety Disorders in Singapore are at about 5% with a life time risk of about 15%, making them very common disorders in Singapore and worldwide as well. Co-occurrence with Depression is also a feature of this condition.
A good way of deciding if the fear one feels is normal or not is to consider the following. Fear in anxiety disorders is out of proportion to the trigger, for example, in a simplistic way, seeing a kitten, but reacting as if one has seen a lion. The fear also does not diminish or go away when the trigger is removed and more importantly in anxiety disorders, it affects the persons ability to function in both occupational and social settings.
Anxiety often involves both a physical and mental response. Physical symptoms could include palpitations, sweating, headaches, muscle tension or dry mouth. There could also be sleep disturbances, like insomnia, concentration problems, increased tiredness and irritability. The physical complaints are perhaps what people would commonly see a doctor for. It is common that people with anxiety disorders present to their family doctor and also other specialist such as a cardiologist, ENT doctor, neurologist or gastroenterologist first, before being appropriately seen by a psychiatrist. Psychological symptoms including persistent negative thoughts and catastrophic thinking often occur. The patient may suffer from indecisiveness from over-considering the possibilities, what is sometimes know as "paralysis by analysis". Often, the person also behaves and feels as if the feared conclusion has already happened, increasing the chance of depression. Patients with anxiety would often be able to verbalise that their thinking is excessively negative but find it hard to control or distract themselves.
If such symptoms are present, it would be important to consider if an anxiety disorder is present. Below are more details of some of the common anxiety disorders. It is not uncommon to have a mixture of these anxiety conditions as there is much overlap in their symptoms. A good psychiatrist would also look for other co-existing medical and psychiatric conditions and formulate a plan to best manage the individual patient.
Since Anxiety can be a common reaction to stress, how can we know it is abnormal? Some of the signals that suggest that the anxiety that you or a love one may have is abnormal would include the following. That is
GAD is a common type of
anxiety disorder. It presents with symptoms of excessive anxiety and
worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not.
Very often these fears when resolved, would be quickly taken over by a
new set of worries, hence there would be very little time that the
individual would be free from anxiety.