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Anxiety in Adults

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Anxiety in Adults

What is Anxiety in Adults?

Anxiety is the term that describes some severe disorders which manifest through apprehension, fear, worrying, and nervousness. Unfortunately, these disorders end up affecting feelings and behavior, and physical symptoms can also be noticed in most cases.

Although there are plenty of people who experience states of fear and worrying throughout their lives, particularly before stressful situations such as an exam or a job interview, however, it can be considered a serious illness only if they interfere with the person’s ability to properly function or sleep, and persist outside the stressful situation.

According to a study, sixteen percent of the population between eighteen and fifty-four years of age suffers from a type of anxiety. Furthermore, approximately twenty-five percent of Americans will, are, or have experienced intense episodes of anxiety during their lifespan.

The most common types of anxiety are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Post-traumatic stress.


There is a wide array of both psychological and biological causes that can trigger this disease. Among the most common cases, there are traumatic life events like the death of a relative, a traffic accident, a failed relationship, war trauma, childhood trauma, a recurrent threat, a job loss, and a life-threatening experience. All these represent psychological episodes that may determine a change in the person’s behavior and perspective of the entire world, thus causing additional worrying and nervousness.

On the other hand, other biological causes such as heart, lung, brain, and gland malfunctions are believed to be related to this serious disease. There are also individuals who suffer from a psychiatric disorder, psychosis, and depression who are prone to developing this disorder if a proper treatment is not administered in time. Moreover, some energy stimulants like caffeine, illicit drugs, methylphenidate, and alcohol are among possible causes, although the chances are low if the consumption is not regular and doesn’t link with a sensitive or easily-influenced personality.

Additionally, some personality types have more chances of suffering from this disease later on in life. For instance, children who are shy or anti-social may go through a series of stressful events as compared to normal kids due to the fact that their perception on reality is most of the time altered and tend to see regular events as more difficult and energy-consuming than the others.

To put it simple, a lot of things may cause high stressful levels that further lead to a type of anxiety disorder because once the brain has been exposed to a traumatic incident or extreme nervousness, the body is commanded to go into protection mode.

Signs & Symptoms

In the majority of cases, the physical symptoms which appear if a person is suffering from this condition can easily be confused with the ones related to other psychological disorders or heart problems. When it comes to the physical symptoms that are experienced by people who have this condition, there are heart palpitations, heart racings, chest tightness, short breathe, extensive sweating, headaches, nausea, uncontrollable urinating, feelings of faint, and stomach-butterflies.

Because individuals often experience the loss of control over their lives, they are prone to some psychological disturbances like lack of concentration, short-term memory loss, a constant death-fear, sleeplessness, irritability and depression. Unfortunately, due to the fact that people who have this disease don’t want to return to the moment when the stressful situation happened, they end up hurting their families and friends and locking themselves inside a bubble of protection.

There are a variety of reasons behind this condition. For example, there is a theory which points out to the fact that it is caused by some chemical imbalances in the organism. Another one delivers the idea that the reason behind it is a genetic disposition that influences the possibility of development which is triggered by a mind-exhausting event. On a different level, there are sources that state it is caused by some unresolved issues in a person’s past which leads to overstress.

However, the most popular remains that in which anxiety is determined by buildup stress that hasn’t been properly managed by an individual throughout his lifespan and leads to the point in which the lack of control tends to rule over.

Diagnosing Anxiety in Adults

As we’ve previously mentioned, there are a large variety of symptoms that can be observed in people suffering from this disease. Although most of them can be mistaken by those of another psychological disorder or cardiovascular issues, research is still being conducted in order to find the proper way of noticing this condition on specific terms.

So far, doctors can diagnose an anxiety problem by talking to the patient and observing his behavior or conducting some clinical tests that may point out a chemical imbalance. Furthermore, the diagnosis can be placed if a person who has the same symptoms as those of a heart disease like shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or heartburn doesn’t present any type of heart issue after the tests.

It is important that people who believe they may be prone or suffer from a type of anxiety try to be as honest as possible during the consult in order to facilitate the work of the doctor and have better chances of finding out what’s wrong with them.

Treatment for Anxiety in Adults

When the problem is located and the final diagnosis is put, a person has good chances of becoming healthy again. Among the solutions which proved reliable with patients that had this condition, the most common is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and certain medication.

The medication used helps the person by slowing down the central nervous system. Because of this, they are also called tranquilizers. Additionally, they are prescribed as muscle relaxants and sleeping pills and have become popular in the past century. The most common anti-anxiety drugs are called benzodiazepines and include Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and Klonopin. They act pretty fast, typically in thirty minutes to the maximum of an hour and due to this, they are generally used when a panic attack or an overwhelming episode is involved. However, their consumption is not free of side-effects and people who take them experience a brain slow down or feelings of constant sleepiness and because of this they sometimes appear as drunk or out of this world.
Due to this feature, it is of high importance that the utilization is done under medical surveillance. In case any problem is noticed, the treatment should be instantly disrupted.