MENUMENU
 
  Call our toll-free helpline at 1800-283-7019      Contact Us      Donate
MENUMENU

Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Mental Health

What is Mental Illness

Anxiety Disorders

What are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It can help a person be better prepared in dealing with a tense situation. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming and interferes with your daily activities, it becomes a disorder.

Anxiety disorders can affect adults, as well as children. In fact, it is the most common psychological disorder in children and adolescents.

Anxiety disorders commonly occur alongside other mental or physical illnesses, such as depression. Some adults also suffer from alcohol or substance abuse. These can either mask or worsen anxiety symptoms.

The Singapore Mental Health Survey (2010) found that about 100,000 Singapore residents (aged 18 and above) had anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. It took an average of 6 to 9 years for persons with anxiety disorders to seek help from the onset of illness.

The more common anxiety disorders include:

  • Social phobia
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Each anxiety disorder has its unique set of symptoms. But all the symptoms generally cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread.

Social Phobia

Persons with social phobia become excessively anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They can worry about a dreaded situation for days or weeks.

This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school and other daily activities. Persons with social phobia may find it difficult to make and keep friends.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Persons with GAD go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension. And there is often little or no basis for such anxiety. They anticipate disaster and obsess about problems with their health, wealth, family and work.

Sometimes, just the thought of getting through the day produces feelings of anxiety. Physical symptoms include insomnia, stomach upset, restlessness, fatigue and difficulties in concentrating.

Panic Disorder

Persons with panic disorder find themselves seized with terror out of the sudden. This is usually accompanied by:

  • A pounding heart
  • Sweatiness
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Feeling flushed or chilled
  • Numb or tingling hands
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain or a smothering sensation

Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality or a fear of impending doom. The person is unable to predict when or where an attack will occur, and thus faces an intense worry about when the next attack will occur.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Persons with OCD have persistent and upsetting thoughts (obsessions) that lead to anxiety. They use repetitive behaviours or mental acts (compulsions) to alleviate the anxiety.

Common types of OCD include washing and cleaning compulsions and checking compulsions. For a person with washing and cleaning compulsions, he is obsessed with germs or dirt. He may develop a compulsive ritual to wash his hands or body over and over again. For a person with checking compulsions, he needs to repeatedly check things, count things, or touch things in a particular sequence.

Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm. Persons with PTSD may have been the victim or witness of a traumatic event.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares about what happened
  • Hypervigilance
  • Being startled easily
  • Withdrawing from social contact
  • Avoiding situations that remind the person of the traumatic event

Treatment options are specific to the type and severity of the anxiety disorder.

  • Medication
    The use of antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers to manage symptoms
  • Psychotherapy
    Includes cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Stress management techniques
    To help the person calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy
How You Can Help a Person with an Anxiety Disorder

Encourage the person to join a self-help or support group, such as Sunshine Path.

Sunshine Path is a support group for persons with anxiety and mood disorders. The group meets once a month to share problems, experiences and support for one another. Persons recovering from anxiety disorders benefit greatly from being in a supportive environment.

Contact the SAMH Insight Centre at 1800–283 7019 for more information on the support group

Thanks!

We are here to help

Toll-Free Helpline

1800-283-7019

Call Us

+65 6255 3222

Email Us

enquiry@samhealth.org.sg

Visit Us

Scroll to Top