Anxiety Disorders

The stigma surrounding mental health disorders may sometimes prevent individuals who need mental healthcare from seeking it out1.

There is an increasing prevalence in anxiety disorders in Singapore2 and those who suffer from it can present with a variety of symptoms3. Common symptoms include, but not limited to, nervousness, restlessness, sense of impending doom, rapid heart rate, palpitations, chest discomfort, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, troubles with concentration, gastrointestinal issues, sleep disturbances, neurological complaints and more.

Anxiety disorders can be significantly debilitating and detrimental to those who suffer from it, and it can affect one’s daily activities including school/job performance, social lives and relationships with others.

There are multiple types of anxiety disorders and it can affect children, adolescents and adults. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias etc.

Here is a brief explanation of the types of anxieties4.

Generalised anxiety disorder – You feel excessive, unrealistic worries and tension with little or no reason.

Panic disorder – You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. During a panic attack you may break out in sweat, have chest pains, and have a pounding heartbeat (palpitations). Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack.

Social anxiety disorder – Also called social phobia, this is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.

Specific phobias – You feel intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause you to avoid ordinary situations.

Agoraphobia – You have an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs. For example, you may panic or feel anxious when on an aeroplane, public transportation, or standing in line with a crowd. 

There are also some medical conditions that can cause the aforementioned symptoms, which may necessitate further investigations. E.g. thyrotoxicosis.

The diagnosis of the anxiety disorder will be made by your healthcare provider. The management of anxiety disorders is dependent on the disease type and several other factors like severity, comorbidities and more. It can include psychotherapy and medications and this will be decided by your healthcare provider.

Mental health and wellness are of fundamental importance to an individual’s well-being and early intervention is key.