DOHA: Stigma attached to mental illness in the society here is keeping many away from seeking medical and social help. Hence, one of the widespread psychiatry issues as Anxiety Disorder is seen much lesser in Qatari society compared to the actual gravity of the problem, according to experts.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, which helps one deal with a tense situation. However, when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. Even though treatable without drugs, those suffering from the problem rarely seek expert help.
“The disorder is extremely frequent and it is the most common one seen in practice. We frequently see it and we can assess that 15 to 20 percent of the population, here, during their lifetime will have some type of anxiety disorder. So both psychiatrists and other medical doctors will see a lot of these problems,” said Dr Hind Al Rifai, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry Department, Hamad Medical Corporation. “However, in Qatar we know that a majority of those suffering from the problem do not come to consult with us. So we can say that our patient population does not accurately represent the gravity of the anxiety problem we have here.”
She was speaking to the media at the sidelines of Psychiatry Department open house on focusing on Anxiety Disorders, yesterday. As many are reluctant to consult for anxiety issues, they go to doctor only when it becomes severely uncontrollable. “Here, so far, majority of the cases come to us when they are too difficult to be handled. In general in this part of the world people are not comfortable to come and say that they have issues with anxiety.”
Various social issues add to the incidence of anxiety disorders here. The rapidly changing social settings and lifestyle, changing size of the population, expatriates who are uprooted from their normal society and living here without their social support network are all at increased risk for anxiety and depression. “Anxiety disorders are treatable as any other illnesses. Psychotherapy with its various techniques can help individuals to control their thoughts and calm themselves. Medications are used just to support the healing process, but are not necessary in all cases. Lifestyle changes, family, friends and the society has role in helping these patients,” said Mariana Barrancos, Psychology Supervisor, HMC.
Anxiety is one of the most common psychological disturbances; however, patients are three to five times more likely to go to general doctors than seek help from a psychiatrist. There are various kinds of anxiety disorders as panic attack, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, Social anxiety disorder, Obsessive–compulsive disorder, and Post-traumatic stress disorder. Frequent symptoms of anxiety may include excessive worries and fear, nervousness, irritability, shortness of breath, insomnia, a racing heartbeat, nausea, dizziness, and shaking, amongst others. Symptoms of anxiety may manifest as gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, headaches which increase the patient’s level of discomfort. It can have psychological, physiological and behavioural effect on a person, said Dr Al Rifai.
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