- 1 Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses
- 2 Anxiety disorders: general
- 3 Anxiety disorders: causes
- 4 Anxiety disorders: symptoms
- 5 Anxiety disorders: examinations & diagnosis
- 6 Anxiety disorders: therapy & rehab
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses
According to a study by the Pension Insurance Association, anxiety disorders (anxiety disorders) and depression are among the most common mental illnesses that require rehab. Anxiety disorders can place a heavy burden on those affected. Fears or panic attacks cause certain situations to be difficult or to be avoided entirely. This clearly limits the quality of life. The fear can be directed to specific things (e.g. fear of flying) or occur independently of specific triggers.
Anxiety disorders: general
Anxiety is a normal and important reaction of the body that protects against injuries and unnecessary risks. It ensures that we are attentive to traffic, treat our diseases or lock the front door at night. Nobody is free from fear. However, people with disturbed anxiety experience disproportionately strong fears. Potential or actual threats are overestimated. In this case, one speaks of an anxiety disorder or anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common in women and the second most common in men. According to a study in USA, 15.3 percent of all 18- to 79-year-olds were affected by an anxiety disorder in one year.
Anxiety disorders: causes
Several factors play a role in the development of anxiety disorders. A predisposition, stressful life events but also missing, learned mechanisms to deal with fears can play a role. Even strong stress can keep the body under constant tension. This increases the willingness to react with fear. In addition, alcohol, drugs, certain medications and illnesses can contribute to anxiety and panic.
In some cases, concrete fears can arise from incorrect links. If someone just reaches the train after hectic sprinting, he is out of breath and stressed. Now it can happen that the body signals are interpreted as fear. The breathlessness is attributed to the narrowness in the train compartment or the proximity to the people around. In the future, the body’s alarm system will now start in any similar situation. If the disease deepens, the mere thought of the trigger is often enough to trigger anxiety reactions.
Anxiety disorders: symptoms
The most important symptom of anxiety disorders is the feeling of fear. It is often associated with physical complaints such as a racing heart, sweating, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. People with anxiety disorders almost always avoid the anxiety triggers. This leads to the fears intensifying and becoming independent. In many cases, the focus is no longer on the fear of the situation itself, but on “fear of fear” (fear of expectation). Sleep disorders, depression, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal, lack of self-esteem or the misuse of alcohol to suppress anxiety are also typical.
Anxiety disorders can be very different. If large parts of the world are perceived as threatening and everyday life is characterized by anxiety and insecurity, then one speaks of a generalized anxiety disorder. Other fears are focused on specific situations or things, such as animals or flying. People with agoraphobia are afraid of public places and crowds. This often goes so far that traveling or even leaving the house is hardly possible. Anxiety disorders can be accompanied by severe panic attacks (panic disorders).
Anxiety disorders: examinations & diagnosis
The diagnosis is made through discussions and a detailed survey. Sometimes questionnaires are used. The doctor or psychologist clarifies which symptoms exist. It also includes how pronounced these symptoms are and how long they have existed for the diagnosis. A thorough physical examination is also part of the diagnosis to identify possible physical causes. It also examines whether there are other psychological problems.
In further discussions, the therapist explores the background of the anxiety disorder. The doctor asks the previous history and the current living conditions. It is also important when exactly the fears arise and how they affect everyday private and professional life. When all the findings are available, the doctor can classify the disease according to internationally valid criteria (the WHO criteria).
Anxiety disorders: therapy & rehab
The goal of every therapy and also the rehabilitation (rehab) for anxiety disorders is that normal everyday life is again possible without restrictions. Depending on the form of the disease, different methods can be used so that those affected can regain their zest for life and a high quality of life.
Therapy for anxiety disorders
Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy come first in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Fears can often not be completely eliminated. With mechanisms for coping with fear, however, patients achieve that fear is no longer in the foreground and controls life. The doctor decides individually whether a targeted confrontation with the fear trigger is useful. In some cases, it can also help to investigate the causes of fear using depth psychological approaches. Accompanying medication and relaxation procedures can help to resolve the fears. Rehabilitation can help with severe fears and when conventional therapy fails.
Rehabilitation for anxiety disorders
The aim of rehab is to overcome the fears and to be able to participate in social and professional life again. Rehabilitation offers the possibility of very intensive care in specialized clinics. Drug treatments can be continued and optimized in rehab, but the focus is on making patients feel less anxious and deal with them better in the long term.
Psychotherapeutic care in rehab
Patients with fears perceive the world differently. Anxiety and physical symptoms such as shortness of breath cannot be controlled consciously. This loss of control itself is often perceived as threatening. There is a vicious circle in which fear becomes more and more independent. In rehabilitation, individual therapeutic approaches are put together for each patient in order to break this spiral of fear. Individual discussions and group therapies with different focuses are possible.
A therapy goal can be to better understand your own fear. If you understand what is going on in the body during an anxiety attack, you can also take more countermeasures. Better self-control and a reduction in anxiety symptoms can also be achieved through psychotherapy.
Relaxation and stress management techniques can help overcome anxiety. In rehab, those affected have the opportunity to learn techniques such as autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation that should be continued at home. Because physical training can relieve anxiety symptoms, rehabilitation clinics offer individual sports opportunities and courses. Physiotherapy, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy and job-oriented measures are also possible therapy modules.
Chances of recovery and benefits of rehab
Anxiety disorders can become chronic. The fear then solidifies more and more. Thoughts increasingly focus on negative expectations. Affected people avoid the anxiety triggers. Sometimes everything outside your own home is perceived as threatening. The inhibition threshold to face the fear-triggering situation is getting bigger.
Rehabilitation starts right here and helps to break through fear patterns. Rehabilitation is particularly helpful when outpatient therapies have been exhausted or are not sufficiently successful. The rehabilitation shows fear patients ways to be able to participate in professional and social life again. The focus is on those affected (rediscovering) how to overcome fears, actively shape their lives and help themselves.