The simple literal meaning of anxiety is being anxious. All individuals experience anxiety at sometime in their life. A forthcoming exam or interview, sickness in the family, loss of money, etc. are situations which lead to anxiety. Which situation causes anxiety and how much, depends on the mental makeup and circumstances of the person. Some strong persons are able to face adverse situations very well. They do get anxious but for a short time. Then they work out a solution or wait for the situation to change with a cool mind. But in case of weak minded people, even a small fearful situation causes much anxiety and instead of starting work to sort out the problem, they start feeling sick.
Anxiety is manifested by a wide range of symptoms. Sweating, dryness of mouth, cold clammy skin, tremors, feeling of excess beating of heart, abdominal cramps, feeling giddy, etc. are the wide range of bizarre complaints a person can have due to anxiety state. Sexual impotence, premature ejaculation in men, frigidity and painful intercourse in women is also most often due to anxiety.
Anxiety can also be situational when the person feels better after the situation causing anxiety is improved. Some people have chronic anxiety with no real but imaginary problems. This is called anxiety neurosis and was included in the domain of psychiatric conditions in the end of 19th century.
Persons suffering from anxiety neurosis worry incessantly with small problems or for no reason. Fear of public speech, crowded places, fear of separation or of illness are some of the common anxiety disorders encountered. Apart from this post traumatic stress disorder, i.e. undue anxiety occurring and persisting after witnessing or experiencing a major tragedy is also one of the anxiety states. Obsessive and compulsive neurosis is often grouped together with anxiety states. Here the individual is obsessed with his ideas or thoughts howsoever irrational it may be. In compulsive neurosis, a person does repeated tasks illogically like opening and closing of a door multiple times.
Anxiety neurosis can co-exist with other morbidities like depression. Often the triggering factors for the 2 conditions are also same. Anxiety neurosis can occur at any age but is common in adults.
Some cases of anxiety neurosis are attributed to deficiency of a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is also said to run in families to some extent. People exposed to organic solvents for long time have been documented to develop anxiety states. Jobs like painting and varnishing entail much exposure to organic solvents. Use of alcohol and other addicting substances tends to aggravate this disorder.
Anxiolytics, tranquilizers and sedatives are used for treatment of this condition. But the patient feels good only till the effect of these drugs lasts. Long term use of these drugs is associated with dependence, i.e. the person may feel uncomfortable without them.
Psychotherapy and counseling are other measures used to help a person get rid of his undue anxiety. He needs reassurance and advice that his fears and apprehensions are illogical and he is as normal as other people.
Group counseling sessions are often useful for these persons. When many people suffering from the same problem meet one another, it gives confidence to an individual that he is not alone with this problem. They can talk among themselves and help one another. Vocational rehabilitation also helps people suffering from anxiety states as it, “takes their minds off these worries.”
Quitting alcohol and other addictions is very beneficial for people having undue anxiety.
People should be sensitized about these unfortunate individuals suffering from anxiety states. They should be helped by all to become healthy mentally. This help should be in form of counseling, providing company to remove sense of loneliness, appreciating work done by them to boost their confidence. Thus such individuals can again become productive citizens.