Over the last few decades there has been a dramatic improvement in our understanding of anxiety and how it can be treated.Anxiety can be the main or "primary" problem or it can be a secondary problem which means that it is a symptom of another disorder.Frequently anxiety disorders are associated with other anxiety disorders, for example agoraphobia combined with panic disorder.
In these cases the anxiety symptoms occur independently of other mental health problems, however they can be intensified when coupled with depression and life stress.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem along with depression, affecting the population of Ireland and Europe.
These emotions help us to survive by ensuring that we are alert and responsive to the danger.
In the appropriate situation, high levels of anxiety - even panic - is considered normal and helpful if it prompts us to escape from danger.
Physiological reactions in the brain and body, distorted thoughts and beliefs about risk and danger and patterns of behaviour, such as avoidance or safety seeking, all interact to develop and maintain the problem.
Features of anxiety disorder: (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, 2002) Panic attacks are extremely frightening.
People's anxiety levels rise from anticipating that they might be stuck in a situation where they would panic.
This results in avoidance of a whole range of situations and day-to-day activity, and in some cases, people may become housebound or confined to a small "safe" area.
The key feature of the disorder is the sudden onset, occurring "out of the blue", with no identifiable trigger.
It can be accompanied with a persistent concern about future attacks and consequences of the attack (losing control). Approximately 20% people will experience at least one panic attack at some time in their lives.
Anxiety in performance situations such as interviews and exams can help us perform to the best of our ability.