Risk Factors for Anxiety:-
Studies have shown that children of anxious parents are at major risk for anxiety disorders.
The following are some risk factors.
• Gender — Women are at more risk than men. Factors like hormonal, cultural pressures to meet family’s need, self-restrictions increase the risk in women.
• Age — Phobias and separation anxiety can show up in early childhood and teens. Symptoms in children and adult may vary. Early diagnosis can avoid later anxiety disorders.
• Personality Factors — Personal factors like shyness, reserved nature etc. are at risk of developing anxiety disorders in later life.
• Family History — Anxiety disorders may run in families. Genetic factors are responsible in some of the cases.
• Hypoglycemia— Low blood sugar can cause anxiety attacks.
• Trauma — Traumatic events like car accidents, marital separation and early life abusive or developmental trauma are at risk and may develop anxiety disorders.
Apart from the above, excessive caffeine, allergies to foods, lack of sleep and lack of exercise can also cause anxiety.
Somatoform disorders: -
The somatoform disorders are a group of conditions that involve physical symptoms and complaints suggesting the presence of a medical condition but without any evidence of physical pathology to account for them (APA, 2000). Despite the range of clinical manifestations- from blindness or paralysis to hypochondriacal complaints about stomach pains thought to be a sign of cancer- in each case the person is preoccupied with some aspect of her or his health or appearance to the extent that she or he shows significant impairments in functioning. These individuals therefore frequently show up in the practice of primary –care physicians, who have the difficult task of deciding how to manage their complaints, which have no known physical basis.
Soma means “body,” and somatoform disorders involve patterns in which individuals complain of bodily symptoms or defects that suggest the presence of medical problems, but for which no organic basis can be found that satisfactory explains the symptoms such as paralysis or pain. Such individuals are typically preoccupied with their state of health and with various presumed disorders or diseases of bodily organs. Equally key to these disorders is the fact that the affected patients have no control over their symptoms. They are also not intentionally faking symptoms or attempting to deceive others. For the most part, they genuinely and sometimes passionately believe something is terribly wrong with their bodies. The prevalence of somatoform disorders appears to vary considerably among differing cultures (e.g. Isaac et al., 1955; Janca et al.,).
Five more or less distinct Somatoform patterns that have been identified:
(1) Hypochondriasis, (2) Somatization disorder, (3) Pain disorder, (4) Conversion disorder, and (5) Body dysmorphic disorder.
(1) Hypochondriasis: - Individual with hypochondriasis are often anxious and highly preoccupied with bodily functions (e.g., heart beats or bowel movements) or with minor physical abnormalities (e.g., a small sore or an occasional cough) or with vague and ambiguous physical sensations (such as a “tried heart” or “aching veins”). They attribute these symptoms to a suspected disease, and often have intrusive thoughts about it. The diagnoses they make for themselves range from tuberculosis to cancer, exotic infections, AIDS, and numerous other diseases.
Although people with hypochodriasis are usually in good physical condition, they are sincere in their conviction that the symptoms they detect represent real illness. People with this type are preoccupied with concern they have a serious disease. They may believe that minor complaints are signs of very serious medical problems. For example, they may believe that a common headache is a sign of a brain tumor.
Somatization disorder: - This is also known as Briquet's syndrome. Patients with this type have a long history of medical problems that starts before the age of 30.
The symptoms involve several different organs and body systems. The patient may report a combination of:-
• neurologic problems
• gastrointestinal complaints
• sexual symptoms
Many people who have somatization disorder will also have an anxiety disorder.