What are anxiety disorders?

Under anxiety disorders, psychiatrists and psychotherapists understand mental disorders in which anxiety (fear, panic) is the main (or one of the main) symptoms. The most common anxiety disorders: panic attacks (panic disorder), generalized anxiety disorder, all kinds of phobias, mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.

It should be noted that anxiety can be experienced by all healthy people in a state of danger, stress, etc. In this case, anxiety is a normal protective mechanism of the body such as inflammation and temperature in case of infection.

Pathological anxiety differs in that it occurs without an actual external cause.

Some time ago, psychiatrists presented pathological anxiety as one of the types of depression and offered to treat anxiety disorders according to the rules of therapy of depression, while the treatment with antidepressants of anxiety disorders showed high efficiency. Currently, anxiety disorders are separated into a separate category, and their treatment is different from depression therapy.

Anxiety can only be in the form of a sense of anxiety (mild anxiety). When the anxiety is average, "somato - vegetative" manifestations are added: palpitations, shortness of breath and lack of air, dizziness and weakness, sensation of trembling, "heat waves on the body", sweating (especially the palms), dry mouth, coldness of hands and feet, nausea, Pain in the muscles and (or) in the abdomen, frequent urination and loose stools. In case of severe anxiety, as in the panic attack, the above symptoms are accompanied by a pronounced fear of death, loss of control or madness, a sense of horror, and rarely irritable bowel syndrome.

Even with the strongest anxiety there is no danger to life, for a long history of medicine, there has not been a single case of the development of a serious complication from the internal organs and not a single death in case of anxiety disorders. On the contrary, doctors noted that patients with anxiety disorders are usually physically strong and less likely to develop diseases of internal organs.

By the type of current, there are: "acute" anxiety disorders, for example panic attacks (panic disorder), when anxiety attacks occur periodically, for a relatively short time, and "chronic" anxiety disorders - with them anxiety is not so acute, but almost constantly (Phobias, generalized anxiety disorder).

On the mechanism of development of anxiety, a neurotic anxiety is singled out, when the triggering factor is neurosis - the unresolved and prolonged psychological conflict of the desired and actual. - biological - a common mechanism for the formation of anxiety disorders. Its meaning is the violation of the exchange of certain neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) in the brain, the launch of such a mechanism, according to scientists, leads a predisposition in the form of a weak protein exchange in the nervous system.

If the doctor sees the predominance of the neurotic mechanism - then in the treatment preference will be given to psychotherapeutic techniques. If a biological mechanism is involved, medications restoring the exchange of neurotransmitters (antidepressants, neuroleptics, neurometabolic therapy) will be included in the therapy.

In practice, it is not always possible to identify the main mechanism of development of anxiety disorders, so most often the treatment is complex: a combination of pharmacotherapy (taking medicines) and psychotherapy (individual or group sessions with a therapist).