People talk a lot about anxiety these days, especially since COVID. A condition that used to be swept under the rug is now commonplace in conversation.
People will talk about how anxious they were before getting up on stage or diving out of an airplane. These are things that would cause anyone anxiety.
Other people talk about the never-ending flow of hazardous thoughts that go through their minds every waking moment. They think about things most people wouldn’t think about twice.
Anxiety is normal for a few minutes to a few days, and people learn to manage it as they go through life. For some, anxiety is more than a passing worry. They may be anxious for weeks or years, and over time it begins to affect their life. That is when it becomes a disorder.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s that feeling of apprehension or fear about what is to come. People experience anxiety in a variety of ways. You may have a few of these symptoms, or all of them depending on your anxiety level.
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Increased sweating
- Weakness and lethargy
- A feeling of danger or dread
- Gastrointestinal problems
When you feel anxious, your body goes into fight or flight mode. You are on high alert; your body tenses up, and you are looking for possible danger. Everyone’s body responds a different way to danger and fear. Your anxiety symptoms may be completely different than someone else’s.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety comes in different flavors, and you may have more than one type. But your anxiety doesn’t have to disable you. With treatment, many people learn to manage their feelings of anxiety and live normally.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – The feeling of unrealistic worry, fear, and tension for little or no reason.
- Panic Disorder – Sudden intense fear that brings a sense of panic. During a panic attack, you may break out in a sweat, have a pounding heartbeat, have chest pain and sometimes feel like you are choking.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – An obsessive worry when in social situations. You may feel self-conscious and feel like others are making judgments about you or that you will be embarrassed or ridiculed.
- Specific Phobias – You feel an intense fear regarding a particular situation or of an object. For example, you may fear spiders or being up high.
- Agoraphobia – A feeling of panic or extreme anxiousness when in a place that is hard to escape from, such as an airplane or elevator.
- Separation Anxiety – This is a feeling of fear or severe anxiety when a person you are close to leaves your site. You may always worry that something terrible will happen to them.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – This is anxiety that develops after a person is exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal that threatened to cause grave physical harm.
Though the exact cause of anxiety is unknown, scientists believe that it is a combination of several factors that contribute to anxiety disorders. One factor is genetics. Studies support evidence that shows that anxiety runs in families.
Another factor that may be a significant contributor to anxiety is the environment. A stressful or traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, abuse, exposure to prolonged violence or long-term illness can lead to the development of anxiety.
Irrational fear, constant nervousness, and increased heart rate for prolonged periods will begin to take a toll on your body. Though there are several anxiety disorders, there is one common thread, they each need mental health treatment.
Each treatment will be determined by the individual and the type of anxiety they have.
Here are 3 of the most common treatments:
- Psychotherapy – Including cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT
- Medications – Anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants are both used to help treat anxiety.
- Complementary health approaches – These include diet and fitness changes as well as stress and relaxation techniques.
Your anxiety doesn’t have to be your story. With the help of a good therapist, you can learn to overcome the constant fear and worry. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to try to manage your anxiety yourself.
Knowledge is power so learn about your disorder. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to manage the symptoms when they appear. Once you have a treatment plan, stick to it and combine it with proper diet, exercise, and better sleep. Sleep problems and anxiety are closely related.
Other things you can do include learning to relax, manage your negative thoughts, get together with friends, and keep a journal.
It can be challenging and frustrating to live with an anxiety disorder. Proper self-care, both mentally and physically, can help you face the challenge head-on.