Tackle the Anxiety Plague

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr Christian Jessen

[bar] OR most of us anxiety reaches a high point when waiting for the results of something stressful: hospital tests or exam results, perhaps. The feelings of anxiety gear the body up should sudden decisive, or defensive, action need to be taken. That's about as far as it goes for the majority. For others, however, it's a different story. Research suggests that around seven million prescriptions were issued by the NHS for anti-anxiety drugs, and the numbers treated in hospital for such disorders quadrupled to more than 17,000 outpatients' appointments in the past year. I have no doubt that as our current economic woes worsen, and job and mortgage worries increase, the number of sufferers will grow higher still.

Feeling anxious is quite normal and has an important function but people with generalised anxiety disorder -- one in 20 British adults -- find it hard to control their worries, and their anxiety is often not based on any recognisable or justifiable cause. This anxiety is constant and begins to adversely affect their health.

Importantly, anxiety is a symptom rather than a diagnosis. A patient experiencing undue anxiety may well end up being diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobia and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research also suggests that people may inherit a tendency to be more anxious. We all become anxious under pressure but one person may succumb more easily than another, because of a mixture of personality, current circumstances and childhood experience. …