Worried about how anxious you feel? Well, everybody feels anxious every now and then, and it’s a normal emotion. For instance, you may feel anxious just before an exam, a job interview, or before making a critical decision. Anxiety is not an unknown, random or uncontrollable illness or disease that you inherit, develop or contract. It results from certain behaviour.
More specifically, people create a psychological, physiological, and emotional state of anxiety when they behave in an apprehensive manner, like being worried and/or concerned. So, again, anxiety is not an illness or disease, it’s a result of behaviour. Most sources define anxiety as a state of uncertainty, apprehension and fear that results from anticipating a fantasized or realistic threatening situation or event, which often impairs psychological and physical functioning.
Anxiety is your body’s way of keeping you safe. For example, imagine you’re headed home in the evening, dragging your feet out of exhaustion, and then the corner of your eye catches something that you think is a snake. You will suddenly forget how tired you’re and sprint away from imminent danger within seconds.
Moderate anxiety is also a good source of motivation. For instance, if you think the deadline for your assignment submission or exam is creeping by, you will get an urgency to prepare for it in good time. However, too much anxiety about something can become unhealthy and get in your way. If you’re too much anxious about a situation, you can develop anxiety disorders that may keep you from efficiently carrying out your daily activities.
Anxiety disorder, as earlier mentioned, creeps in when the level of anxiety start to negatively and severely affect a person’s life. So instead of experiencing anxiety as a response to real danger, an anxiety disorder sufferer will experience similar symptoms when faced with situations he perceives as dangerous such as taking public transport or meeting new people.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: this is characterized by excessive worry about everything and anything including worrying about being worried. An individual tends to have a prolonged anxiety about nonspecific life events, situations, and objects. This fear is usually out of proportion or unrealistic with what other people expect in their situation. Suffers expect disaster and failure to the extent that it interferes with their daily activities such as school, work, relationships and social activities.
- Social anxiety disorder: this is anxiety in social places which is often anchored in the fear of doing something wrong and then being judged by others. It also includes things like stage fright. You’re always fixated on being judged by others or being ridiculed or embarrassed.
- Panic disorder: this is often characterized by repeated sudden or brief panic attacks as well as worrying about panic attacks in future. A panic attack may be accompanied by shaking, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing or nausea. Panic attacks tend to occur after prolonged stress or a frightening experience, but they can also occur spontaneously.
- Agoraphobia: this is where once avoids situations or places to avoid a panic attack or an anxiety. Agoraphobics will often situate themselves in a way that will make escaping not embarrassing or difficult.
- Specific phobias: this is characterized by an irrational avoidance or fear of a situation or an object. This is different from generalized anxiety disorder because phobias have fear responses identified with specific causes. The fears may be acknowledged as unnecessary or irrational, but the person involved is unable to control the resulting anxiety.
- Panic, uneasiness, and fear.
- Sleep problems
- Cold, numb, sweaty, or tingling feet or hands.
- Heart palpitations
- Not being able to stay still and calm.
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
Researchers have yet identified exactly what causes anxiety. Like many other forms of mental illnesses, anxiety stems from a combination of factors including environmental stress, changes in the brain and sometimes genes. The disorders can also run in a family and doctors have linked this to the faulty brain circuits that control fear and emotions.
If you experience any of the above-mentioned disorders persistently, you should seek help as soon as possible before the situation gets worse. Counselling is one of the most effective forms of treating anxiety. Talking to a qualified counsellor or counselling service providers such as Mind Space Counselling can help in many ways.
The counsellor will help you understand the cause of your anxiety and teach you important coping techniques. There are very many types of therapies available to help you effectively deal with your fears from within. The most common approach is examining how your thoughts affect you and how you behave, then breaking down any overwhelming issues into smaller and more manageable tasks.