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Anxiety is an emotional state that happens when a person perceives a danger that poses a threat to him/her. This threat may be real or just in our imaginations. This feeling of fear, stress, and apprehension enables a person to be defensive and to adapt defensively to the environment it is meant to be brief in nature. However, when it lasts for a very long time, progressively gets worse and becomes detrimental to your daily activities. Then you can call this anxiety disorder.


1. Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms generally caused by anxiety disorder can be divided into psychological and physiological symptoms.

Psychological symptoms include things that go on in the mind when a person experiences anxiety such as excessive worry and feelings of imminent danger which in most cases of anxiety disorder is unwarranted.

Physiological symptoms include physical expressions of anxiety such as trembling, palpitations, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, tightness or pain in the chest and hyperventilation.

To better understand this, just think of the way you will feel if you wake up to see a deadly viper lying next to you. Here is a summary of the symptoms:


1.1. Psychological Anxiety Symptoms


– Continuous worrying or obsession

– The incapability of letting go of your worries

– Difficulty concentrating when you are anxious, or your mind “goes blank”

– Restlessness, and always feeling edgy

– You are worried about getting excessively worried (typical of panic attacks)

– You are excessively afraid of making the wrong decision to avoid criticism (social anxiety disorder)


1.2. Physical Anxiety Symptoms


– Fatigue

– Palpitations

– Rapid heartbeats,

– Chest tightness and pain

– Shortness of breath

– Muscle tension or muscle aches

– Easily Irritable

– Quivering,

– Difficulty sleeping

– Headaches

– Sweating

– Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome


2. Anxiety vs. Depression

Depression disorder is usually a persistent feeling of hopelessness and sadness. Executives with depression feel melancholic most of the time. They find it difficult to enjoy the little things in life.

Executives with anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are afraid that something really terrible is going to happen to them. It is a feeling of perpetual dread. There is a relationship between anxiety and depression.

Common signs of depression are:


– Withdrawal from other people

– Sadness and hopelessness

– Trouble making decisions

– Being restless, agitated, and irritable

– Trouble with memory

– Abnormal eating habits

– Abnormal sleeping habits

– Difficulty concentrating

– Feeling of guilt

– Anger and rage

– Feeling of worthlessness

– You feel that you are a failure

– Suicidal thoughts

If you suffer from depression at work, find out 7 Easy Ways to Cope with your depression at work


3. How Many People Suffer From Anxiety Disorders?

According to the World Health Organization, anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders. One in thirteen people has anxiety worldwide this means about 538 million people have different anxiety disorders worldwide. Specific phobia, major depressive disorder, and social phobia are the most common anxiety disorders worldwide.


4. Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is caused by many factors and can be worsened by many things. Genetics plays a strong role. There are studies that show that it is possible to inherit social anxiety disorder. In fact, people with that disorder usually have overprotective parents. Also, potentially traumatic experiences such as natural disasters, wars, child abuse, and dysfunctional families can aggravate or put you at greater risk of having anxiety disorders.


5. Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder is not a single disease, but a group of diseases. It is possible for a person to have one or more types of anxiety disorders.

Some common types of anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorders, phobias, and panic disorders. This is by no means an exhaustive list as some other ones like separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, substance-medication-induced anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders are also types of anxiety disorders.

The thing is, there are many types of anxiety disorders and many others keep coming out as new types. The symptoms are somewhat similar, the main difference is what causes the fear.

We will explain some of the most common types of anxiety disorders in the next session.


5.1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is the worst thing that can happen to you? A natural disaster, a terrorist attack or the apocalypse?

Executives with a generalized anxiety disorder are afraid of unrealistic events or are excessively afraid of adverse effect to the point that it affects them negatively.

People with this disorder are always on edge, they can’t concentrate and feel their mind going blank sometimes and find it difficult to control their irrational worries.

They are also restless and have difficulty sleeping. As a result, they have muscle aches, tend to be fatigued and easily irritated. They find it difficult to cope with their worries and this affects their performance at work.


5.2. Panic Disorder

This happens when you are afraid of nothing. By nothing, we mean nothing – almost literarily. People with this disorder are afraid of having a panic attack and the fear of having a panic attack makes them actually have a panic attack – makes sense? They may mistake their condition for a heart attack or other disease because their conditions are similar to other diseases.

This often leads to misdiagnosis and often executives may be referred many times before this disorder is discovered. It can have great negative effects on your social relations or your work performance.

Executives with this disorder tend to avoid places where they may not be able to get help quickly if they experience a panic attack like public buses and high-rise office buildings.


5.3. Social Anxiety Disorder

Nobody likes being criticized or embarrassed so, many people shy away from public speaking and entertainment because they do not want to be judged. This disorder is similar to panic disorder in that the reactions are the same. But what differentiates this from panic disorder is the cause of anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder is actually an intense fear of being criticized in a social situation.

If the manager is exposed to that kind of situation, something similar to a panic attack happens. Some situations that can cause it are speaking or eating in public, interacting with strangers or people of authority and using public toilets.

You may notice symptoms like sweating, butterflies in your stomach, diarrhea, trembling, and rapid heartbeats. Blushing is a key symptom of social anxiety disorder which differentiates it from a panic attack.


5.4. Specific Phobias

Business people suffering from this disorder are afraid of specific objects like spiders, heights, water, injections, or dogs.

The fear is unrealistic, as most of these objects are not dangerous. Specific phobias are usually the mildest of all anxiety disorders depending on what you are afraid of. As long as they cannot see what they are afraid of, they would be fine.


5.5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is an anxiety disorder caused by previous exposure to a highly stressful and traumatic event. These traumatic events are usually life-threatening or fatal can either be experienced or witnessed by the person.

A person with PTSD usually relives life-threatening experiences in the form of nightmares and memories which look so real that it seems the event is actually happening again.

The person also shows physical reactions to these vivid memories and they find it difficult to organize the event sequentially as they seem to forget important aspects of the traumatic event. Their memories from the events are more like super-realistic, messy, scary bits of the event.


6. Side Effects of Anxiety

Anxiety can wreak so much havoc on our bodies. If you have had anxiety for a long time, it means your brain is releasing cortisol (a stress hormone) and adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) into your bloodstream which will have adverse effects on your body in the long run.

Cortisol contributes to unhealthy weight gain, anxiety increases your risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, cortisol and other stress hormones may weaken the immune system in the long run. Cortisol is released for a really long time in cases of long-term anxiety. This can weaken your immune system.

Anxiety can also cause depression and is closely linked with depression and other psychiatric disorders.

Find out 7 Easy Ways to Cope with Depression at Work


7. Side Effects of Anxiety at the Workplace

Executives and entrepreneurs with anxiety can find it really difficult in the workplace.

According to the ADAA, managers with anxiety disorders found it difficult to set and meet deadlines, maintain relationships with others, make presentations and manage others. Anxiety about job responsibilities can reduce confidence.

Business people with social anxiety disorder or social phobias may turn down a promotion just because they do not want to have to go out and meet other people.

Anxiety can affect the way you think as your mind can go blank. Anxiety also increases your chances of making mistakes as you are not entirely focused on what you are doing.


8. Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

Some executives with anxiety disorders may find it difficult to tell your employers about their anxiety disorder because they may get fired.

There are several treatments that can help you cope with anxiety in the workplace.


8.1. Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are usually the first option to try before moving to medications and psychotherapy. Daily exercises combined with good sleep, healthy eating, less intake of caffeine and alcohol are all lifestyle changes that can decrease symptoms of anxiety.

There are other tips on managing anxiety in the workplace.

Learn to Deal With Anxiety by Following Some Simple Strategies


8.2. Psychological Methods

This method is used in mild cases or in combination with drugs in severe cases. It employs the use of different psychological techniques in order to improve the conditions of a person with anxiety.

The psychological method seeks to change the perception of a person having anxiety disorders to improve the condition of the person. Perhaps, the most important component of this method is education. The person has to be educated about his/her anxiety disorder and how to manage it.

This education is done by methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management, eye movement desensitization, and reprocessing and psychoeducation.


8.3. Pharmacological Methods

Drugs like anxiolytics can be used to calm the person down and control anxiety symptoms. These anxiolytics are usually sedatives.

The type of antidepressants used depends on the type of anxiety. Not all antidepressants are equally effective for all types of anxiety.

You should see a doctor for the best combination of treatments if you have anxiety disorders as some of these drugs and techniques can be dangerous if not used properly.



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