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DHA psychiatrists discuss ways to tackle anxiety, panic attacks and phobias during twitter clinic

April 19, 2014 9:52 am

Dubai Health Authority(DHA) psychiatrists discussed ways to tackle anxiety, panic attacks and phobias during the twitter clinic.

The clinic takes places every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. until noon and DHA doctors discuss pertinent health issues and disseminate health tips.

Today’s clinic discussed the importance of awareness and early treatment for anxiety, panic attacks and phobias.

Dr. Mohamed Fayek, head of department of psychiatry at Rashid Hospital, said, “Anxiety is a normal reaction to certain events that occur in life. However, most of us can overcome it after a brief period which can range from few hours to few days. But in extreme cases anxiety persists for a long period. When it starts to affect daily functioning of life, a person needs to consult a psychiatrist or a psychologist.”

Dr. Adil Karrani, consultant psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital and president of emirates psychiatric society added, “If anxiety prevents the person from going to work, or driving the car or going to sleep etc. it means it is affected the person’s daily life and that is a significant sign that the person needs to consult with a mental health professional.”

He said, “Anxiety has physiological and physical symptoms, however, most people are only aware of the physical symptoms that include increased heartbeat, inability to take deep breaths, palpitation, nausea, sweating.” “These symptoms are sometimes felt when a person is in a fearful or strange situation and can occur at various stages of life. For example, pupils may experience some of these symptoms during exams or people with claustrophobia may experience these symptoms when they are in an enclosed space. These feeling are normal, however when they occur frequently and are long lasting, the person suffers from anxiety. If the anxiety is intense and if the person feels like he is going to die or gets dizzy, it’s called a panic attack,” he added.

In terms of phobias he said that most people are afraid of two to three things but the extent of fear will determine whether consultation with a medical professional is needed or not. An anxiety of harmful animals or things is a natural protection mechanism that warms human beings of potential danger e.g. fear of snakes etc. However there are some strange phobias of things that are not harmful such as fear of colours, fear of driving etc. People with such fears need psychological consultation.

Karrani said, “Visiting a physiatrist or physiologist early on prevents further complications. As soon as you feel you have some symptoms of anxiety which start to affect your education, work or social life, it is advisable to consult a mental health specialist, either a physiologist or a psychiatrist. Unfortunately people who suffer from anxiety consult psychiatrists very late which leads to the usage of medications and difficulty in helping them lead a normal life.”

Karrani added, “Treatment for anxiety is either physiological treatment which consists of talk therapy, changing the thought process of the anxious person etc. or in more severe cases medications are also prescribed. I recommend avoiding hypnotics which is a type of medication that reduces anxiety but causes dependence over the long term. Most anti-anxiety medications take time to work and therefore the best treatment is to combine talk therapy and medication.”

He added, “In addition to therapy patients should adopt a healthier way of life that includes allocating time for spirituality, exercise, healthy diet, good sleep habits etc.” Karrani said, “Exercise in such cases should be for minimum 20 to 60 minutes, no less than three times a week. It’s advisable to avoid alcohol and tobacco as studies have shown they increase anxiety. It’s also important to make sure that you are part of a circle of friends.”