Updated: Feb 11
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders often have intense, excessive, and persistent worries and fears about everyday situations. Frequently, in anxiety disorders, there are repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that peak in a matter of minutes (panic attacks).
These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the real danger, and can last a long time. In order to prevent these feelings, it may happen that you avoid certain places or situations. Symptoms can begin in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood.
An example of a situation with an anxiety attack could be this: John has always been in the care of his younger brother, Sam. But every time Sam is late for soccer practice, he worries so much that he can’t focus on his homework. John looks at his watch, worries and imagines the worst: images of bus accidents come to his mind and he fears, for no particular reason, that Sam may be injured or dead. Only when Sam gets home safe and sound can John finally relax.
It’s completely normal to worry when things get stressful and complicated. But if the worries become overwhelming, you may feel like they are running your life. If you spend too much time worried or nervous, or if you have trouble sleeping from anxiety, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. They can be symptoms of a problem or an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is a natural human reaction that affects the mind and body. It has an important basic survival function: anxiety is an alarm system that is activated when a person perceives a danger or a threat. When the body and mind react to danger or threat, a person feels physical feelings of anxiety that are part of the body’s “fight or flight” response. They are caused by increased production of adrenaline and other chemicals that prepare the body to quickly escape danger. They can be presented as mild or extreme symptoms.
Among the symptoms that may occur we can find:
• Feeling of nervousness, agitation or tension
• Feeling of impending danger, panic, or catastrophe
• Increased heart rate
• Accelerated breathing (hyperventilation)
• Feeling weak or tired
• Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than current concern
• Having trouble falling asleep
• Suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) problems
• Have difficulty managing worries
• Have the need to avoid situations that generate anxiety
In addition, anxiety disorders are divided into several types, these being the most common:
Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time. Anxiety can be described as a feeling of restlessness, nervousness, worry, fear, or panic about what is about to or may happen. While fear is the emotion we feel in the presence of a threat, anxiety is a sense of a danger, problem or threat that is about to happen. Feelings of anxiety can be mild or intense (or somewhere in between), depending on the person and the situation. Mild anxiety can feel like restlessness or nervousness. The most intense anxiety can feel like fear, terror, or panic. Worry and feelings of tension and stress are forms of anxiety. So are stage fright or shyness at the prospect of meeting new people.
Anxiety disorders are mental health problems that are associated with experiencing excess anxiety, fear, nervousness, worry, or terror. Too constant or too intense anxiety can make a person feel worried, distracted, tense, and always alert.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems. They affect people of all ages, including adults, children, and teens. There are many different types of anxiety disorders, with different symptoms. However, they all have one thing in common: anxiety occurs too frequently, it is too intense, it is disproportionate to the situation at the moment and it interferes with the person's daily life and happiness.
- Generalized anxiety: This common anxiety disorder causes a person to worry excessively about many things. Someone with generalized anxiety worries excessively about school, health, the safety of family members, and the future. You may always think of the worst that can happen.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): For a person with OCD, anxiety takes the form of obsessions (negative thoughts) and compulsions (actions to try to relieve anxiety).
- Phobias: They are intense fears of specific situations or things that are not really dangerous, such as heights, dogs or falling in an airplane. Phobias usually make people avoid the things that make them fear.
- Social phobia (social anxiety): This intense anxiety is triggered by social situations or by speaking in front of others. An extreme form called selective mutism causes children and teens to be too afraid to speak up in certain situations.
- Crisis of anguish: These episodes of anxiety can occur for no apparent reason. A person experiencing a panic attack has sudden and intense physical symptoms that may include palpitations, a feeling of shortness or shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness or tingling caused by an overactivity of the body’s normal responses to fear.
- Agoraphobia. It is an intense fear of panic attacks that causes a person to avoid going anywhere where they may have a panic attack.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This type of anxiety disorder is the result of a frightening or traumatic past experience. Symptoms include recurring memories of the experience, nightmares, and constant fear after the event.
It is not entirely clear what the causes of anxiety disorders are. Certain life experiences, such as traumatic events, appear to cause anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits can also be a factor.
Anxiety is a challenging situation and it can of course be a pretty daunting affair for a lot of people, but the reality is that you can overcome this and the first step is always to admit that you suffer this condition. And once you come to terms with that, you can start a very successful period of rehabilitation and getting over such a complex state. Seek help now if you have an anxiety disorder because there is help available.
Let’s make the world better with a better you in it.