What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease about a forthcoming event or uncertain outcome. It is a normal emotion that most people experience from time to time. It helps us to recognize threats and gives us a burst of energy to respond.
This can include focusing on potential danger and preparing our muscles for action. It's also common to worry about things that we care deeply about but are out of our control, such as awaiting the results of a medical test. This type of worry can help prepare us for events or tests. Additionally, some people experience physical sensations like a tight chest, tension in the jaw, or butterflies in the stomach when anxious.
Anxiety Related Disorders
When we feel anxious, and our fear persists, it can lead to an array of anxiety-related disorders. We can become preoccupied with perceived threats while underestimating our ability to cope with them. We may also become sensitive to neutral or non-threatening situations, believing them to be a source of danger.
Furthermore, we may fixate on our thoughts and the physical sensations in our body, leading us to avoid activities that could cause us anxiety. This could lead to mental exhaustion, procrastination, and decreased performance.
The four main types of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each of these conditions has unique symptoms and warning signs, and it is essential to seek professional help if you think you may be suffering from one of these conditions.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a health disorder characterized by excessive and persistent worry and fear about various everyday events and activities. People with GAD often experience a sense of dread or panic, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, sweating, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can interfere with the person’s ability to go about their daily life, making them feel tense and anxious.
GAD affects both the body and mind. Physically, people with GAD may experience muscle tension, headaches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and digestive issues. Emotionally, people with GAD may experience restlessness, lack of focus, irritability, and an inability to relax. They may also experience difficulty concentrating and have a problem making decisions.
Other common symptoms of GAD include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, difficulty controlling worrying thoughts, and feeling like they’re “on edge” all the time. People with GAD often avoid certain activities or situations due to fear and worry. If untreated, GAD can lead to further physical and mental health issues.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by the fear of being judged by others in social situations. People with this disorder may feel worried about embarrassment or humiliation in social situations, leading them to avoid social interactions altogether. Social anxiety disorder symptoms can include intense fear, distress, and self-consciousness in social situations, and physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, trembling, heart palpitations, nausea, and difficulty speaking.
People with this disorder may be overly concerned about being watched or judged by others. They may be self-conscious about their appearance or voice and excessively worried about making mistakes in social situations. They may have difficulty making eye contact and may be hesitant to start conversations or join other activities. In some cases, this disorder can lead to complete social isolation, as people with the condition may be too afraid to leave their homes. Treatment for social anxiety disorder can include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, and support groups.
A panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by sudden and unexpected intense fear and terror. These panic attacks can occur in response to a particular situation or out of the blue with no apparent trigger. Panic attacks typically last for a few minutes but can last up to an hour or more.
Panic disorder is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest tightness, dizziness, trembling, and sweating. These physical symptoms can be so intense that the person experiencing them may think they are having a heart attack or other serious medical issues. Other symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Fear of losing control.
- Fear of dying.
- Detachment from oneself.
- Fear of going crazy.
People may experience flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares during a panic attack. Examples of situations that could trigger a panic attack include being in a large crowd, feeling trapped in a small space, or being in an unfamiliar environment.
Ways To Treat Anxiety
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular treatments for anxiety disorders. This anxiety therapy focuses on helping people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors to improve their mental health. This therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected and can influence one another.
CBT for anxiety works to help people identify and challenge irrational beliefs and thought patterns that lead to unhelpful behaviors. The goal is to replace them with more positive and realistic ways of thinking that lead to healthier behaviors. CBT often helps treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the most common therapy for anxiety disorders, there are various other options for treating anxiety disorders. These include medications, including anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, and beta-blockers. There are also relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation that can help reduce anxiety symptoms. For relaxation techniques, it’s essential to practice them regularly to reduce anxiety.
In addition, lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting adequate sleep can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Remember, what you eat, how much you sleep, and how active you are can affect your anxiety levels. Finally, joining a support group, talking to friends and family, and seeking counseling can all help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are prevalent yet often overlooked and underdiagnosed. It takes courage and strength to face and overcome your anxieties, and many resources are available to help you along the way. Don't be afraid to reach out and take that first step towards a healthier, more relaxed life. Reach out to Mile High Psychology for a free consultation and see how we can help alleviate some of the mental pain of Anxiety.