Anxiety is a term used to describe normal feelings people experience when they face a threat, dangerous or stressful situations. When individuals start being anxious about something, they normally feel discomfort, frustration, and stress. Anxiety can be a result of some life worries such as loss of work, breakup, severe disease, or death of a close relative or friend. In such cases, it is normal behavior that continues for a limited period of time. It is experienced very often during life. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between anxiety as a natural reaction to some situation and symptoms of anxiety disorder.
In general, this disease affects teenagers and young adults. According to the research conducted by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, the average age of onset in the USA is 13. It is also stated that women are likely to suffer from anxiety disorder twice as often as men (Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 2004).
There are several types of anxiety disorder including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, specific phobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and unrealistic worries about everyday things such as health, family, friends, money, or career. Regarding people suffering from panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, they experience extreme panic attacks in situations that most people do not fell hazardous at all. This type of anxiety disorder is followed by a feeling as if the person is going to have a heart attack (Rector et al., 2008).
In general, all people experience irrational fear. However, a phobia is a strong fear concerning some things or situations disturbing an individual’s life. There are various types of phobias: fear of heights, water, dogs, close spaces, snakes, or spiders. To the contrary, social phobia is a strong and constant fear of being around people. Such persons are afraid to be criticized or judged.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes thoughts and ideas that often lead to the creation of some sophisticated rituals, the purpose of which is to control or get rid of such ideas. These rituals usually take time and hurt everyday life. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common to people who had a serious trauma such as war, torture, car accident, fire, or violence. Not everybody with traumas experiences post-traumatic disorder. However, those, who do experience it, can suffer from it for a long period of time.
Anxiety disorder can be distinguished from the simple anxiety by the following signs and symptoms that include sweating, abdominal distress, dizziness, fainting, increased heart rate, shaking, pain in the chest, constant fear, chills or hot flashes (Rector et al., 2008).
The first step to being taken when dealing with an anxiety disorder is to determine its very type to evaluate its complexity degree. In this case, the simple questions asked to the person can help. These questions should mostly refer to his/ her feelings. Thus, the nurse could find out what exactly bothers the patient. The most important thing while doing this is not to be scared but show that the person is not alone, and there are people who care about him/her. Moreover, being supportive and encouraging can play a great role when establishing contact with the patient and maintaining therapeutic relationships (Swinson, 1997).
Another successful tool for dealing with patients suffering from an anxiety disorder is to be sympathetic. In this case, the ability to listen is very appreciated. By showing this, nurses are more likely to find an approach to him/her as well as the best solution for recovery.
Another and no less important issue is trying to persuade patients not to be ashamed of their problems and deeds. In this case, it is recommended to point out that they are not the only people with such problem and, what is more important, to give positive examples of people who recuperated this disorder. In this way, there will be more chances that they will look up to them and start fighting with their disease harder (Swinson, 1997).
When possible, try to eliminate the sources of anxiety. Explaining and persuading patients that they are mistaken about some facts can sometimes be helpful. However, in most cases, they will not listen to this. Also, here comes the hardest thing — to find a way to destroy their delusional thoughts and help them dispel them. Here it is impossible to go without constant long-term talks, discussions, and over persuasion. In this case, it is crucial to indicate the patient’s mistakes without hurting his/her feelings. Only hard work and a high level of professionalism are accepted here.
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Relaxation is another useful mean that helps reduce the anxiety level. It has been proved that the human brain is a subject to more impact when it is relaxed. Therefore, it is of great importance not to miss this moment and try to influence the person when he/she is ready. Medications can be helpful here as well as massage, which should be performed in combination with educational conversations (Eaton et al., 1994).
Antidepressant drugs play a crucial role when treating some anxiety disorders. They can be helpful since they have a special effect on nervous fever in the brain. However, such medicine cannot cure anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, it can help keep symptoms under control while the person is getting medical support from nurses. Benzodiazepines are a group of medications that decrease anxiety and excessive agitation, as well as help people, feel tranquil and calm. They also produce somnolence that enables people to fall asleep faster and sleep tight during the night. Nevertheless, these drugs tend to cause addiction. Therefore, it is discouraged to use them during a long period of time. The positive aspect of using them is that they can fast improve a patient’s condition and control his/her anxiety. The most popular benzodiazepines are clonazepam (Rivotril), alprazolam (Xanax), and lorazepam (Ativan). Although this kind of treatment is quite effective, it also has adverse effects. Among them are somnolence, sedation, faintness, and disorientation. It must be pointed out that it is strongly discouraged to use benzodiazepines in combination with alcohol or other sedative medications (Eaton et al., 1994).
An alternative way of treating this disease is herbal therapy. Some herbal products have sedative effects and are likely to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Among them are German chamomile, hops, kava, lemon balm, passiflora, skullcap, and valerian. However, the only negative side of applying this therapy is that it has not been studied at an appropriate level yet. As a result, the effectiveness of all of them is not as proved as antidepressants (Swinson, 1997).
All in all, based on the above-mentioned information, anxiety disorder is the issue that must be carefully treated in an appropriate way in order not to lead to more serious consequences.