Anxiety disorders are an alarming adversary, silently influencing behaviour and cognition. The term, rooted in the Latin “anxieties” meaning to choke, throttle, trouble, and upset, encapsulates the profound impact it can wield.
Dr. Aijaz Ahmad Suhaff, a distinguished Psychiatrist at Govt. Medical College Srinagar, unveils profound insights into the realm of anxiety disorders, shedding light on their prevalence and multifaceted faces. Quoted from IMHANS-k, anxiety disorders emerge as prevalent psychiatric illnesses, casting shadows on the quality of life and functionality of individuals. Dr. Suhaff’s narrative navigates through the landscape of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each disorder unfurls its unique characteristics, giving voice to the struggles of those grappling with pervasive worry, irrational fears, acute panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, and trauma-induced symptoms.
Dr. Ajaz Ahmad Suhaff emphasizes that anxiety is classified as a mental illness or disorder when it persists for an extended duration, significantly impacting the normal daily life of an individual. He identifies five common anxiety disorders prevalent in clinical practice: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Characterized by pervasive and excessive worry or apprehensions about various aspects of life. Individuals with this disorder experience free-floating anxiety, anticipating something bad happening to themselves or their families.
Phobias: Marked by irrational and persistent fears of specific situations, objects, or activities, leading to avoidance. Dr. Suhaff shares patient narratives describing situations like feeling suffocated in crowded markets or experiencing breathlessness in specific settings.
Panic Disorder: Involves sudden and intense episodes of unprovoked anxiety, accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms. Anticipatory anxiety between episodes is a hallmark of this disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) leading to anxiety, countered by repetitive behaviours or mental acts (compulsions).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Arises from exposure to a traumatic event, resulting in persistent re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms.
Dr. Suhaff underscores the impact of anxiety disorders on an individual’s quality of life, emphasizing the need for understanding and addressing these mental health challenges. His insights provide a comprehensive view of the diverse manifestations of anxiety disorders, offering a nuanced understanding for both professionals and the broader community
Dr Suhaff emphasized the paramount importance of distinguishing between anxiety disorders for effective management. Factors such as the focus of anxiety, specific triggers, and the nature of symptoms were identified as crucial elements in this differentiation.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) took the spotlight as a short-term, skills-focused treatment with proven efficacy for various mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders. Dr. Suhaff highlighted the abundance of data supporting CBT and its utilization, emphasizing its positive impact on the quality of life for individuals with anxiety. The prescription of anxiolytics like benzodiazepines and antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, was discussed. Dr. Suhaff underscored the importance of understanding the potential side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, and changes in appetite. He emphasized the risk of dependence, especially with benzodiazepines, and the crucial role of regular communication with healthcare professionals in minimizing these risks.
Dr. Suhaff delved into recent studies highlighting the effectiveness of holistic approaches alongside psycho-pharmacological methods. Yoga, Meditation, Art Therapy, and mindfulness emerged as successful holistic interventions, bringing about changes in brain structure and function, ultimately leading to improved emotional regulation and physiological effects on anxiety symptoms.
In tackling the stigma surrounding mental health, Dr. Suhaff urged individuals to seek help, emphasizing the commonality of mental disorders and the positive impact of treatment. The role of support systems—family, friends, and colleagues—was underscored, with a focus on their varied contributions, including emotional support and encouragement to seek professional help.
Dr. Suhaff traced the historical timeline of anxiety disorder treatment, citing studies dating back to 1959. He highlighted significant Indian studies, such as the comparison of Lorazepam and Diazepam efficacy and the effectiveness of yoga therapy in anxiety management.
Expressing concern about the lack of research in non-pharmacological management in India, Dr. Suhaff called for exploration into digital interventions like virtual reality, smartphone apps, and online platforms for therapeutic interventions and provided practical tips for maintaining mental well-being, including exercise, sufficient sleep, a balanced diet, time management, and mindfulness. He emphasized the importance of avoiding multitasking, excessive screen time, and incorporating positive affirmations.
Dr. Suhaff concluded by stressing the need for continuous education about mental health, active participation in one’s well-being, and seeking assistance when needed. He highlighted the combined efforts of proactive strategies and a responsive approach as essential in the lifelong journey of maintaining mental wellness.
Tanzeela Farooq Mir, an intern at the Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS), sheds light on the prevalent but often overlooked issue of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Mir emphasizes the critical role children play as the heart of every home, bringing joy to parents who cherish their healthy growth and development.
Despite the many childhood disorders, ADHD stands out as a common condition that can persist into adolescence and adulthood. Mir notes that the causes of ADHD remain a mystery, with probable factors stemming from complex interactions between genetics and the environment. Children with ADHD typically face challenges in paying attention, following instructions, and may exhibit impulsive behaviour, making it difficult for them to concentrate.
Mir provides a glimpse into the lives of children with ADHD in Kashmir, focusing on the pre-school years. She introduces Bintul Huda, a 9-year-old girl attending Angel’s Convent School. Huda’s parents, Mrs. X and Mr. Y, express concern about her struggles in schoolwork, falling behind in subjects, and facing difficulties in forming friendships. Mir highlights that ADHD symptoms include poor intensity of play, excessive motor restlessness, and a sense of being different from classmates.
Huda’s parents notice her increasing disorganization, losing school items, and being frequently tardy due to extended preparation times. Despite excelling in sports, Huda finds it challenging to concentrate, even on enjoyable activities. Mrs. X recalls her own childhood, suggesting a potential hereditary component to Huda’s challenges.
In this scenario, Mir emphasizes the importance of seeking help from counselling professionals. Identifying and addressing ADHD symptoms early can provide valuable support for the child and their parents. Mir suggests that a qualified professional can assist in managing the challenges associated with ADHD effectively. The news piece aims to raise awareness about ADHD in Kashmir, urging parents and educators to be vigilant and proactive in seeking appropriate interventions for children facing these challenges.