PSYCHIATRIC COMPLAINTS – Tormenting anxiety
Due to anxiety, we are now overwhelmed by stress and strain. This stress and strain moulds us by creating more anxiety to survive in this competitive world. Anxiety refers to a state of being anxious with mild fear of one’s self and alarming reaction. As anxiety is multi-dimensional,
it is also often synonymously referred to for nervousness, concern or worry. Actually, in the medical world, anxiety is claimed to be normal as an alarming reaction and as a requirement for everyone to face environment, happenings and future. Without this emotion, man would be a biological computer or a saint. As we do not remain a spiritual being in the human journey, we need to face suspense or tension.
Following are few occasions/situations where one faces anxiety with increased pulse rate, pounding heartbeats and sweating palms.
- Watching a thrilling movie (expecting the result of the climax)
- Involved in a game and expecting a better result
- Appearing for exam or interview or meeting higher officials or while getting results
- Getting repeated negative thoughts or fear of failure
- About to express love
- Waiting in an emergency situation
On all these occasions, one will feel time running out or feel as if time passes very slowly (i.e. every second will be felt like an hour). For some, it will be most horrible when they are kept in suspense than when they have to face a disappointment. Usually silence or loneliness makes one more anxious than work or keeping oneself busy. Likewise, more expectations cause more anxiety.
Everyone is piled with anxiety naturally but the level of it varies in intensity, character and its effects. One’s faith or confidence can control or end anxiety. Everyone has their own tension and stressful occasions in life from childhood. Anxiousness may come for anything i.e. for a simple exam, meeting higher officials, public speaking, to life threatening situations. The level of suffering usually depends on one’s need, expectations, satisfactions and level of fear.
If anxiety is felt in excess, it should be considered as abnormal and should be treated accordingly or otherwise it will create a lot of problems with unwanted tension and undue fear all through life. Its effect can reflect in appetite, attention, sleep, activities, work, etc. As it overtaxes everybody, anxieties are said to be interest paid in advance for the suffering or trouble which comes in future.
Anxiety is not a disease and it is only a symptom (as in schizophrenia and depression). Anxiety is just like walking or balancing on a rope; if one’s mind is not balanced properly, it may either fall on the side of depression with panic or to the side of irritable mania with impatience. Usually, adaptation to any anxiety situation develops over time with repeated incidences or occasions or situation. Sometimes, without getting adapted, anxiety may boom to give cyclonic effect in mind or brain to cause depression or mania.
Incidences – Anxiety arises most commonly in the adolescent age, where everyone often faces turning points in their life. The risky age for development of anxiety is 16 to 27. Females seem to suffer more commonly than males. Common victims are widows, divorcees, the poor, smokers, drunkards, drug addicts, job seekers, one who lives aloof, one who loathes life, one who loves, one who has psychological conflicts, etc. When circumstances are conflicting all the way, anyone can get anxiety at any time, irrespective of sex.
Changes in the body due to anxiety
When one become anxious, the adrenal gland secretes more adrenaline. As more adrenaline gets pumped into blood, pulse becomes rapid with pounding heartbeat. People will breathe fast, have palpitations and their muscles will get tightened to face the situation vigorously. Finally, the reaction ends with a feeling of exhaustion. Occasionally, anxiety may cause headache due to congestion of blood in the brain due to increased blood pumping with adrenaline. Anxiety can be treated easily. If not get treated, it remains a silent killer throughout life.
Causes – The most common cause or concern for development of anxiety is money, job, love and health. There are various causes for the development of anxiety. Sometimes, causes may remain unknown also. The common causes are:
Physiological/pathological – any life-threatening illness, especially heart disorders, thyroid problems, hypertension, diabetes, impotency.
Habits – smoking, alcohol and drugs and their withdrawal effects
Psychological – emotional conflicts, worry, grief, financial loss, unable to attain satisfaction in any activity, getting mismatches, suppression of love or sexual desire, feeling of insecurity, fear of future / ageing or other unwanted fears, etc.
Symptoms – Getting anxious often leads to other symptoms (either psychological orphysiological) like
- Restlessness of mind and body with sleeplessness
- Lack of concentration, confusion and forgetfulness
- Irritability and impulsiveness
- Tiredness or easy fatigability with body pain
- Tremors with a feeling of electric current in the body
- Feels constricted at the throat with difficulty to utter word clearly – blabbering
- Urge to urinate (with bedwetting) / pass stool (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Dry mouth and thirsty
- Empty feeling in stomach / feeling discomfort in upper abdomen
- Aversion to foods or drinks
- Chest pain and breathlessness
- Palpitations with sweating
- Development of depression / fear / mania after prolonged time
- Development of headache / hypertension (blood pressure)
- Impotency or loss of sexual passion
Dimensions of anxiety and its disorders
Anxiety remains as the base for most of the psychological disorders. Any other psychological disorder can build its symptoms over it to get its effects. As every human being is individualistic and has unique characters, sufferings also seem to differ from one person to another.
Haunted anxiety may mount up, to cause tension (with bouts of anger) or become panic (with chest pain, breathlessness, palpitation, sweating, fainting, fear of death, etc). Likewise, with recurrent failures or with fear of failures, one can become a sufferer of obsessive compulsive disorder (endless persistent thoughts of the need for cleanliness, perfection, etc.), Depression, schizophrenia, mania, anxiety neurosis, phobias (fear with illusions, delusions and hallucinations with respect to specific or non-specific things or persons or circumstances or events), etc., also develops with the base of anxiety only.
Development of post-traumatic stress disorder after a disaster or mass loss or after having cancer or AIDS with the loss, fear of life / future, hopelessness, etc., also arises as an intensified anxiety only.
Prevention and self care
- Open minded and share your feelings and expectations with well-wishers or those who are concerned
- Busy with work or job to forget all sorts of thoughts
- With facts and not on your opinions or notions
- Active and do physical exercises regularly
- Fate and try to overcome it – Life begins with acceptance. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising up every time we fall.
- Feasibility and limit your expectations
- Support of well-wishers to overcome sinking feeling
- Consequences and work on it or correct yourself with creating will power to succeed
- Loneliness and thoughts
- Racing against time
- Circumstances which favour anxiety or depression
- Letting problems rankle inside you
- Negative thoughts (which may never happen)
- Anticipation about troubles
- Continuous mental work (have some relaxation with entertainment)
- Addictives – coffee, smoking, drinking and drugs
Diagnosis – Before making a diagnosis and proceeding for treatment on psychological background, one must think on all the differential diagnosis of physical illnesses and have to rule out the same, with all sorts of investigations (including EEG and CT or MRI brain) and clinical examinations. Especially one needs to rule out thyroid problems, chronic illnesses like heart disorders, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, etc., and also consider habits of smoking, drinking, drugs and its withdrawal effects for the cause or effects of anxiety.
Doctor needs good amount of time with patient’s cooperation to interrogate all aspects (official or unofficial or personal) / possibilities to get the cause and to counsel or advice accordingly.
Counselling for anxiety
Many a time, the sufferer will not recognise the problem and even if he does, he neglects it or leaves it untreated. All complaints should be attended to and nipped in the bud itself to have complete cure or health. Also avoidance of circumstances or situations or objects which cause symptoms can temporarily alleviate the suffering, but it limits one’s day-to-day activities and future life establishment. The sooner one admits and proceeds to treatment the better.
Counselling is the first line of treatment in all psychological disorders.
Counselling differs in time and approach with each patient, according to their presentation and intensity of the complaint. Patient cooperation is more essential than any other. Counselling also needs to play the right tune at the right time to comfort the sufferer. Or otherwise, negative impact will often follow. Counselling will be in such a way as to build self-confidence, self-esteem and self-support.
Success of treatment lies in patient’s cooperation and doctor’s analysis. The sufferer should expose himself/herself by expressing all their emotions and feelings to the doctor without hiding to get diagnosed properly and treated accordingly. They should not feel shy, shameful or reluctant to reveal all their complaints. On probing the mind, grabbing the secrecy, soothing the anxiety, quieting the mind, relaxing the tension, any doctor can cure anxiety disorders even without any medicine. If it doesn’t get adapted even after proper counselling, then one should go in for medication.
Every doctor needs to interrogate every patient separately and his /parents/friends/partner separately to diagnose the complaint at its best with respect to personality traits, coping skills, psychological conflicts, vulnerability to stress, etc. The sufferer should admit this without any suspicion (of losing confidentiality), so that the doctor can study all facets of the sufferer and help him/her offer insights to root out the suffering.
General treatment – In case of physical diseases related psychological disorders, treatment of the physical disease will be given importance since most of the time it will be the root cause of psychological symptoms. Generally, in case of psychological disorders, if medication is required after counselling, psychotherapy, behaviour therapy, tranquillizer/anti-depressants with sedatives (sleeping pills) will be prescribed to calm the sufferer’s mind. These tablets on continuous use will often have side-effects like dry mouth, blurred vision, sleepiness, restlessness, headache, hypotension, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrheoa, tremors, lack of concentration, impotency, etc. With prolonged use, they also cause dependency (need to continue for lifetime to suppress the symptom).
One will be anxious and worried when one has any sufferings or diseases either physical or psychological. They continue to have them until they meet the doctor to get a consoling word i.e. “Nothing to worry and you will be alright soon”. “Cure rarely, comfort mostly, but console always” as Hippocrates quotes, every doctor, irrespective of the system, needs to calm the sufferer’s mind with his reassuring words, and cure their diseases with their knowledge and medicines. Reassurance is the first line of treatment in all psychological patients irrespective of any system of medicine.
Anxiety generally interferes with vital things like appetite, sleep, concentration, feelings, etc. So it affects the person as a whole. Usually, Homeopathy gives paramount importance to these general symptoms in addition to patient’s feelings, precipitating factors, aggravating factors and ameliorating factors for the selection of right medicines. The well-selected medicine prescribed to the core of the disease will certainly calm down the sufferer’s brain and help to remain in endurance. Homoeopathy can ensure cure / better relief from anxiety disorders without any side-effects.
Homeopathy vehemently condemns temporary suppressing mode of treatment. Homeopathy can clear harboured diseases/conditions by reviving and strengthening mental power and by keeping them energetic with a sense of well-being. Homeopathy can treat the sufferer exemplarily to face boldly the unexpected and to have and enjoy all the fantasies of the world.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in anxiety disorders are Aconite, Arg nit, Arnica, Ars alb, Aurum met, Borax, Bryonia, Caladium, Cal carb, Cannabis indica, Causticum, Clematis, Cuprum met, Gelsemium, Hyoscyamus, Ignatia, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Nat mur, Nux vom, Opium, Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, Sepia, Silicea, Staphysagria, Stramonium, Tarantula, etc. Bach’s flower remedies like Aspen, Mimulus, Red chestnut, Vervain, etc., can also provide amazing results for persistent thoughts or anxieties. These medicines can facilitate one’s mind in a better way to cope with the situation. It is better to have these medicines under the advice and diagnosis of a Qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD (Homeo)
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011 (Mob)
(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)