You may have a typical level of anxiety and this information may help to understand and manage it more effectively. This blog may also be helpful to identify anxiety issues in friends or family to help them get the support that they need.
What is anxiety? Many people think that anxiety is only being nervous or worrying about things too much, however it is more complex than just that one symptom. Anxiety is a physiological response in the body that helps tell our brain that there is danger nearby. However, most of the time in our modern world there are not obvious threats such as dangerous animals stalking us. Instead many of our threats involve social, financial or other responsibilities that are often hanging over our heads. When our brains are focused on things that create stress, our body feels it physically because stress hormones flood the bloodstream. So, the body can sometimes feel stress without the brain even recognizing directly where it is coming from. That is why it is important to know if it is impacting us.
First, it is important to be able to identify when we are feeling anxiety. As we have learned, it is sometimes hard to know when anxiety is affecting us. That is why understanding how anxiety affects us is important. Anxiety affects the body by increasing heart rate, pace of breathing and sweating. It also can cause headaches, stomachaches, nausea, muscular fatigue, shaking, frequent urination and erectile dysfunction. It also affects us in other ways as well.
Anxiety can have an affect on people’s actions too. It can cause people to avoid places or situations that have provoked anxiety in the past. It can also affect sleeping patterns, changes in habits, changes in appetite and increased fidgeting.
The most common thought of factor of anxiety is the psychological. These can be related to worried thoughts, fears or suspected danger. Often anxiety creates thoughts that are extreme and seem to be the worst-case scenario. Anxiety can cause irritability, feeling tense, jumpy or restless. It can also cause difficulty with concentrating, making people’s minds go blank, get stuck or feel trapped/stuck on a thought.
Everyone has some amount of anxiety day to day, as it is a normal reaction to stressful situations. However, there are some people that have above average anxiety and it becomes a mental health issue when it begins to impact parts of life.
Generalized anxiety disorder
This diagnosis is given to people that struggle with anxiety nearly everyday and have impacted lives from the symptoms above occurring most days for months.
This diagnosis is given to people that have intense symptoms of anxiety, usually related to more of the physical symptoms occurring suddenly and unexpectedly. Usually people feel intense fear, increased heart rate, shaking, trembling, shortness of breath, choking and feeling as if they may die. Usually these create worry about when the next attack will come and possibly avoidance of places where attacks have happened.
Social anxiety disorder
This diagnosis is given to people that have high anxiety specifically in social situations. These people often experience fear of social or performance situations where they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected or self-conscious. People that struggle with this disorder feel anxious around other people and have difficulty speaking to people. Usually they will feel self-conscious and worry about being embarrassed, judged, fearful of offending someone, blushing, sweating or feeling nauseous or sick. Sometimes they will worry for days about upcoming social situations and may think about mistakes or worries in conversation with people days later.
Once a person understands how anxiety is affecting them it is possible to address it and treat the symptoms. For people with average levels of anxiety, relaxation is usually enough to help control symptoms. Also avoiding substances that increase anxiety such as caffeine can be helpful. Using breathing exercises, physical exercise, mediation, mindfullness and other calming activities can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety. At certain times of the year or during stressful times of life it is important to be more intentional using these strategies to deal with stress. It could also be helpful to encourage or join a family member in using these strategies to help them learn to manage their anxiety issue. For people that continue to struggle with anxiety it is likely necessary to begin counseling, and/or see a professional to prescribe medication. Counseling helps to educate about the effects of anxiety, how it impacts us, and skills to use to help manage it. Medication works at a chemical level in the brain to balance out over active systems that contribute to anxiety symptoms. To get support click the link below.