What is Anxiety
Anxiety is our body and mind's natural reaction to threat or danger. If you experience severe symptoms over time, you might have an anxiety disorder.
We all experience anxiety from time to time; it is often a normal response to stressful situations.
When you are in a challenging situation, your body releases hormones, such as adrenaline, which cause physical reactions in your body. This is known as the ‘fight or flight response’; it is your body’s way of ensuring you are alert and can respond to danger.
Different types of anxiety disorders?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health condition where you find it difficult to control worry.
If you are living with GAD, you may spend a lot of time worrying about everyday situations, rather than single events or specific threats. You may also be very concerned about what might go wrong in the future. The anxiety coming from this worry can cause a lot of distress and may affect your social, work, and home life.
A panic attacks
A panic attack is the body's way of responding to the "flight or fight" response system is triggered when there is no actual external threat or danger present.
When you have a rush of adrenaline in your body, it can cause a number of different physical and emotional sensations that may affect you during a panic attack.
Very rapid breathing or feeling unable to breathe
Palpitations or a pounding heartbeat
Dizziness, light-headedness, or feeling faint
Ringing in the ears
Hot or cold flushes
Fear of losing control
Fear of dying.
Panic disorder is when you have sudden episodes of severe anxiety or panic, linked with a fear of death or collapse. The key feature of panic disorder is the sudden onset of panic attacks with no clear reason or trigger; you may often feel constant concern about having future attacks or about the consequences of an attack.
Social anxiety is when you feel intensely anxious and self-conscious in social situations. This is marked by fears of being judged negatively or appearing foolish.
Everyone can feel shy or find social situations difficult from time to time. However, social anxiety is an extreme fear which usually lasts a long time and doesn’t ease or stop on its own. Without support, it may lead you to dread, avoid, or hide away in social situations. It might also stop you from taking part in performance situations, such as public speaking or job interviews.
More than one in eight people will experience a social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. For most people, it begins in the teenage years, but it can happen at any time.
Many symptoms of social anxiety are physical, such as blushing, sweating, or a racing heartbeat.
If you are living with social anxiety, you might:
See small mistakes as bigger than they really are
Feel that all eyes are on you
Find it difficult to do things in front of other people, like writing or talking on the phone
Fear public speaking, dating, meeting new people, or talking with people in authority
Find blushing painfully embarrassing
Dread being in public or social situations, such as going to parties and restaurants or using public bathrooms.
Social anxiety can impact your daily life and relationships if it leads you to avoid your normal activities or go through them in distress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops after very frightening, upsetting, or overwhelming events.
If you are living with PTSD, you may:
Have distressing memories or flashbacks of the event
Avoid reminders of the event
Withdraw from other people
Be more alert to threats and danger
Have disturbed sleep.
Traumatic events that can cause PTSD include natural disasters, such as earthquakes; serious car crashes or other accidents; military combat or conflict; and violent personal assaults, such as robbery or sexual assault.
It is important to distinguish PTSD from normal reactions to traumatic events, which are similar but shorter-lived and less intense.
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
Having an increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
Feeling weak or tired
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Having difficulty controlling worry
Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Effects of anxiety on your mind
These can include:
Feeling tense, nervous, or unable to relax
Having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst
Feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
Feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you
Feeling like you can't stop worrying, or that bad thing will happen if you stop worrying
Worrying about anxiety itself, for example, worrying about when panic attacks might happen
Wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you
Worrying that you're losing touch with reality
Low mood and depression
Rumination – thinking a lot about bad experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again
Depersonalization – a type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from your mind or body, or like you are a character that you are watching in a film
Derealisation – another type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn't real
Worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future
Other effects of anxiety
Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day parts of your life, including:
Looking after yourself
Holding down a job
Forming or maintaining relationships
Trying new things
Simply enjoying your leisure time.
When to see a counselor doctor or mental health provider:
You feel like you're worrying too much and it's interfering with your work, relationships, or other parts of your life
Your fear, worry, or anxiety is upsetting to you and difficult to control
You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — if this is the case, seek emergency treatment immediately
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may get worse over time if you don't seek help. See a counselor or doctor or mental health provider before your anxiety gets worse. It's easier to treat if you get help early.
The affect of Anxiety on the Body
Central nervous system
Long-term anxiety and panic attacks can cause your brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and depression.
When you feel anxious and stressed, your brain floods your nervous system with hormones and chemicals designed to help you respond to a threat. Adrenaline and cortisol are two examples.
While helpful for the occasional high-stress event, long-term exposure to stress hormones can be more harmful to your physical health in the long run. For example, long-term exposure to cortisol can contribute to weight gain.
Anxiety disorders can cause rapid heart rate, palpitations, and chest pain. You may also be at an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. If you already have heart disease, anxiety disorders may raise the risk of coronary events.
Excretory and digestive systems
Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomach-aches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.
There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Anxiety can trigger your flight-or-fight stress response and release a flood of chemicals and hormones, like adrenaline, into your system.
In the short term, this increases your pulse and breathing rate, so your brain can get more oxygen. This prepares you to respond appropriately to an intense situation. Your immune system may even get a brief boost. With occasional stress, your body returns to normal functioning when the stress passes.
But if you repeatedly feel anxious and stressed or it lasts a long time, your body never gets the signal to return to normal functioning. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses. Also, your regular vaccines may not work as well if you have anxiety.
Anxiety causes rapid, shallow breathing. If you have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may be at an increased risk of hospitalization from anxiety-related complications. Anxiety can also make asthma symptoms worse.
Anxiety disorder can cause other symptoms, including:
If you have PTSD, you may experience flashbacks, reliving a traumatic experience over and over. You might get angry or startled easily, and perhaps become emotionally withdrawn. Other symptoms include nightmares, insomnia, and sadness.
Anxiety can Affect Your Life
While it’s normal to get nervous sometimes, especially before important events, an anxiety disorder is a completely different matter.
There are many ways an anxiety disorder can affect your health. Anxiety essentially means you are under perpetual stress as if you are being threatened. This can cause many kinds of problems.
One of the earliest problems caused by an anxiety disorder is digestive problems, such as nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. You may lose your appetite, causing you to lose weight. An anxiety disorder may worsen irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Ulcers were once thought to be caused by overactive stomach acid from stress, but have since been found to be caused by bacteria. However, chronic anxiety can also impair your immune system, making you more prone to ulcers.
When you have an anxiety disorder, your sympathetic nervous system is working overtime. Your sympathetic nervous system, or SNS, is known as the “fight or flight” system, which is activated by threats. It is meant to act temporarily, to get you out of trouble, but when it’s working all the time, it causes health problems. Certain biological functions are the responsibility of the SNS, and others are the responsibility of the counteracting system, the parasympathetic nervous system, or PNS. When the SNS is underactive, you have more trouble sleeping and healing from injuries and illnesses. You may also have a lot more muscle tension, leading to headaches and back and joint pain.
Most people are now aware that stress is bad for your cardiovascular system. When you’re stressed–and when you’re anxious, you’re usually stressed–your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Eventually, your blood vessels become stiffer, leading to a greater risk of heart attack and stroke.
As noted above, anxiety activates your SNS, which has a strange effect on immunity. It temporarily boosts your immune system to prepare to fight infections that might result from injury. However, over the long term, it damages your immune system. Fighting infections and healing injuries is an energy-intensive process and you’re body won’t devote resources to it unless you have a chance to rest and recover. If you feel constantly anxious, though, that time never comes and the maintenance is deferred indefinitely. As a result, you end up getting sick more often.
Quality of life
Quality of life is probably the biggest way an anxiety disorder can affect you. To have an anxiety disorder is essential to living in fear, and often in fear of nothing in particular. That is unpleasant in itself, but it can also limit you in other ways. Anxiety makes it harder to try new things, to take risks in your work or personal life, or sometimes to even leave your house. Many people with anxiety feel caged in. They see things they want to do in life but their anxiety keeps them from trying. This can lead to loss of income and unfulfilled potential.
As social creatures, having good relationships is crucial to happiness. Unfortunately, anxiety disorders are very hard on relationships. Since anxiety limits your willingness to try new things, it limits what you’re willing to try with your friends. It can even limit your willingness to meet new people and make friends. Ironically, the premium we place on social acceptance also drives social anxiety. The stakes just feel too high for some people to risk rejection. Instead, they become socially isolated, and even more anxious. Anxiety disorders can affect relationships in other ways too. For example, if you have PTSD, you might become short-tempered and controlling, getting unreasonably angry with people you care about. This can alienate you or even lead to legal troubles.
There’s a very high overlap between people with anxiety disorders and people with substance use disorders. For example, about 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder, about 25 percent of people with OCD, and more than half of people with PTSD develop substance use issues. People with anxiety disorders often want some kind of relief from their symptoms. Many people find that alcohol helps temporarily. Doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines for anxiety. Unfortunately, those are extremely addictive and you can form a dependence in as little as two weeks of regular use. Then your anxiety returns anyway. An anxiety disorder can damage your health, relationships, and quality of life, but anxiety disorders can usually be effectively treated. Treatment typically includes some form of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, and may also include medication such as an SSRI. With the right help, most people are able to get their anxiety under control and live a much happier life.
Coping with an anxiety
These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control. They are out of proportion to the actual danger and can cause you to avoid places or situations.
Keep physically active
Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you can't quit on your own, see your healthcare provider or find a support group to help you.
Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages
Nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
Use stress management and relaxation techniques
Visualization techniques, meditation, and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
Make sleep a priority
Do what you can to make sure you're getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren't sleeping well, talk with your healthcare provider.
Eat healthy foods
A healthy diet that incorporates vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.
Stick to your treatment plan
Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist gives.
Keep a journal
Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what's causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
Don't let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities.
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may worsen over time if you don't seek help. See your health care provider or a mental health provider before your anxiety worsens. It's easier to treat if you get help early.
How Can I help you?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
In treating anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is quite successful. I will assist you in learning new strategies to recognize and manage the elements that contribute to your anxiety during CBT treatment.
CBT is a treatment that combines cognitive and behavioral therapy. You'll study the fundamentals of cognitive restructuring in cognitive therapy, which entails identifying the thoughts that cause worry. You can help them feel better by teaching them how to replace negative thoughts with more realistic ones. Meanwhile, you'll discover CBT strategies to lessen troublesome behaviors associated with anxiety-related diseases through behavior therapy. At Eden therapy clinic urge you to participate in anxiety-provoking tasks during behavior therapy, and you will learn that the consequences you fear are unlikely.
Reaching out for help isn't a sign of weakness; it's a crucial step on the road to recovery. Here are eight symptoms that it's time to get anxiety treatment from a professional on Fettle:
You're constantly feeling stressed out.
Your physical health is deteriorating.
You're having trouble forming or maintaining relationships.
It seems impossible to keep your emotions under check.
Your job or academic performance has suffered a setback.
You resort to harmful coping techniques to deal with your problems.
You've been through a traumatic event.
You don't like the things you used to enjoy.
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