From time to time we all experience feelings of anxiety. Generally it can be described as a sense of uneasiness, worry, fear, dread or nervousness in a person relating to something that is about to happen or to something that may happen.
The feelings that we get that associated with anxiety can be quite mild but they can also be quite intense. Of course this is dependent on the situation the person finds themself in and the kind of person that they are.
Most of us will have to deal with feelings of anxiety when faced with things that are unfamiliar or new to us. Plus these feelings will arise when we are faced with a situation that proves to be challenging.
The kinds of situations that could cause such feelings to occur would be when taking a test or going for an interview, even going out on a date for the first time can lead to you feeling more anxious than is normal. Yet even though these situations don’t actually place any physical threat on our lives that can still cause us to feel “threatened” because we are worried that we are going to make a mistake.
Signs Of Anxiety
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious during situations that you are finding stressful. In fact it is perfectly good for you as the tension you are feeling helps to increase levels of energy and concentration within you and this in turn improves the way that you perform. In fact the feelings that we get when we feel anxious help to spur us on to take the necessary actions that will help us to face the situation head on.
However you only develop an anxiety disorder when you find the symptoms associated with it begin to interfere with your life, relationships and the way you perform on a daily basis.
Below are some of the signs of anxiety that one needs to be aware of:
Sign 1 – Do you find yourself trying to avoid certain situations everyday be- cause they make you extremely anxious?
Sign 2 – Are you finding yourself plagued by certain fears that appear to be to- tally irrational?
Sign 3 – Is the anxiety you are feeling so extreme and intense that it is starting to interfere not only with your relationship with others but also with how you per- form?
Sign 4 – Are you constantly feeling jittery, tense and worrying excessively about the smallest of things?
Sign 5 – Are you experiencing bouts of panic in very normal situations with or without the physical symptoms associated with anxiety such as palpitations and sweating excessively?
Sign 6 – Do you find yourself carrying out certain rituals or avoiding doing certain things because they cause too much anxiety and fear in you?
Symptoms Of Anxiety
There are more than 100 different types of symptoms that one can suffer from that are associated with anxiety. As we come with our own unique chemical make up the type, number, intensity and frequency of the symptoms we feel will of course vary in each one of us. For example one person may only suffer from one symptom of anxiety in a very mild form whilst another person could suffer from some or all of them and the intensity of what they are feeling can also be much greater.
So What Types Of Symptoms Of Anxiety Could You Suffer From?
Below we take a look at the various symptoms that one can suffer from when diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. We take not only a look at the symptoms you are likely to suffer from in general but which relate to certain areas of the body.
1. Anxiety Symptoms Associated Most with the Body In General
a) Increase in allergy problems
b) Back Pain including feeling more stiffness, tension and soreness in the back or its muscles
c) Blanching – you look very pale
d) Blushing – you face starts to look very red or flushed all of the time
e) Certain areas of your body feel very sore and it feels like muscles are bruised
f) Body jolts, zaps, electric jolts in your body or intense body tremors or shakes
g) Your body’s temperature seems to be fluctuating a lot between hot and cold
h) Your skin feels like it is burning, itching or feels prickly. You notice some numbness to your skin or it feels more sensitive.
i) You notice a buzzing sensation in your fingers, hands, toes, feet, arms and legs
j) Your chest feels tight or painful
l) Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
m) You have problems with coordinating your limbs
n) You feel cold a lot more often
o) You find yourself craving things that are sweet such as sugar and chocolate
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
The symptoms that we suffer from when we suffer from an anxiety disorder as already mentioned can vary from one person to another.
Something else you should also know is that each type of anxiety disorder comes with a different name that reflects the kinds of symptoms you will have to deal with. Below we take a look at the kinds of Anxiety Disorders that people can suffer from today.
Type 1 – Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Type 2 – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anyone who suffers from this particular anxiety disorder will find that they constantly suffer from thoughts that are unwanted or intrusive. These thoughts then seem to compel them to perform certain things repeatedly as a way of helping them to ease some if not all of the anxiety that they are feeling.
Most people who do suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are aware that these compulsions they are feeling are completely irrational, yet they still find themselves in a situation where trying to stop themselves from doing them is difficult.
For some people who suffer from OCD they will spend hours performing very complicated rituals, which may involve them washing their hands, counting or checking things. They do this as they hope it will then help to ward off these persistent and unwelcome thoughts that they are having. As a result eventually it can lead to the rituals actually interfering with them doing things on a daily basis. This is be- cause they find actually concentrating even on the most basic of tasks becomes difficult.
Type 3 – Phobias
There are many types of phobias that one can suffer from which will cause us to feel a little uneasy or frightened. Most people who have a phobia say of heights or of spiders will make sure that they avoid situations that could cause their fear to manifest itself into something real. Generally people even with a slight fear of something are able to control the feelings of fear and will carry on with what they need to do during the day without any real incident.
However some people do suffer from specific types of phobias that cause a strong irrational fear reaction in them even when they are not in any kind of danger. These people can see being frightened doesn’t make any sense, but still do not have the power to prevent themselves from feeling it.
For anyone who suffers from a phobia if left untreated it can lead to problems in their lives. Not only can it make carrying out the simplest of tasks each day difficult, but can also make them much less productive. Also they find that they don’t have as much self-esteem as others and certainly over time when their phobia takes control it can place strain on the relationships that they have with others. This is because these people will ensure that they do everything that is possible to ensure that they avoid those situations that are likely to make their condition worse.
Type 4 – Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
For people who suffer from this particular type of anxiety disorder they are afraid of being scrutinized or judged by others when in a social situation or when required to carry out a particular task. For anyone who suffers from this particular disorder it can wreak havoc on his or her lives.
Today in America alone around 15 million adults suffer from this disorder. Generally the symptoms first begin to appear when a person is turning adolescent. Most people who suffer from this particular disorder will choose to ignore the symptoms associated with this particular type of anxiety disorder for a period of 10 years or more before they finally decide to seek out help to treat the condition.
Type 5 – Panic Disorder
A person will be diagnosed with suffering from this particular disorder when they experience spontaneous panic attacks for no apparent reason. In many cases people who suffer from the severe form of this type of anxiety disorder will find themselves becoming preoccupied with the fear that attacks will occur time after time. As well as these attacks happening without any kind of warning they can also occur whilst a person is sleeping.
Every year around 6 million adults in America will experience this particular disorder in some form. It typically starts to develop in a person during early adult- hood and like some other anxiety disorders you will find that women are more prone to developing it than men.
Type 6 – Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is a seriously potentially debilitating condition and often occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed an event that could have proven to be life threatening. Events such as being caught up in a natural disaster such as an Earth- quake or a terrorist incident can lead to someone developing PTSD. Furthermore if you are faced with the sudden death of someone you loved or cared for dearly can lead to you developing this type of anxiety disorder as well.
Generally most people when faced with such dramatic and often life changing situations are able to recover from them eventually. However those who develop PTSD will continue to feel very anxious and even depressed for months or years to come after the event has taken place.
How Anxiety Can Affect You
For anybody having to deal with an anxiety disorder will feel very confused and strange because they won’t have actually felt anything like this before. In some people they suffer much worse with the physical symptoms associated with these disorders. Whilst for others feelings of fear or doom can occur for no reason what- soever and make them feel scared or unsafe, so that they put up walls around them figuratively speaking in order to protect themselves.
The problem for such people is that with them constantly worrying about what may happen they start to feel overwhelmed by everything around them even though it may be quite little. Not only can these feelings have a detrimental effect on how their ability to concentrate but also to sleep and eat. Eventually their levels of confidence start to diminish and they have difficulty keeping up a positive outlook on their life.
Quite a few people will choose not to talk about their worries when they suffer from any form of anxiety disorder because they believe that others may not under- stand what they are feeling. These people are not only worried that people will judge them unfairly but seem them as being weak.
Even though many people suffer from different forms of anxiety disorders most will choose not to let others know because they feel that they are going to be misunderstood. In fact there are certain cases where the sufferer actually blames himself or herself for feeling the way that they do yet it is a natural part of the way we are and which helps to protect us from any real danger.
The wonderful thing is a great deal of research has been carried out and still be carried out into anxiety disorders. As a result medical professional now have a better understanding of them than they had previously and so can create a form of treatment that will help the person sufferer from the disorder to cope with it better. Although there are no cures for such disorders at present the treatments available do help the sufferer to feel better because they learn how to handle the disorder better.
What Causes Anxiety
As yet experts are still unsure as what causes people to develop certain types of anxiety disorders. What they do seem to have discovered however is that there are certain things that do seem to play a role including genetics, brain biochemistry, leading a stressful life, our fight-flight response is much more active or it is something that we have learned.
For anyone who has a family member who suffers from an anxiety disorder the chances of him or her also developing such are much greater. Although there is no evidence at present that shows that genes are the deciding factor, many experts believe that there may be a gene that has been passed on to them that affects the brain chemistry and in turn affects the way in which chemicals known as neurotransmitters are produced. But having said that genes do affect some people the likelihood that you won’t develop anxiety is just as great even when a member of your family does some from them.
It isn’t only a person’s genetic makeup that can lead to them develop an anxiety there are many other factors that can play a role in developing such conditions as well.
For example anyone who is faced with a particular traumatic event such as being caught up in a terrorist attack or losing a loved one suddenly can develop such disorders. Plus people who grow up in an environment where they are afraid can cause them to view the world as a dangerous place to live. The same also goes for people who grow up in a place where danger is commonplace say they are being abused by a family member or friend can lead to them also develop some form of anxiety disorder.
How Anxiety Can Be Treated
Today it isn’t medication alone that can be used in helping with treating anxiety disorders. People are now finding attending sessions regularly with a mental health professional or therapist can also help people with these types of disorders to gain control over their lives once again. Most people who suffer from any form of anxiety disorder do tend to find that attention sessions with a therapist and taking certain medication really does help them to gain control over their lives once again.
In this chapter of the book we are taking a much closer look at the various forms of treatment now available that can help someone to cope with their condition more effectively. What is important to remember that none of the treatments currently available offer a complete cure to one’s condition, but rather offer help in dealing with it more effectively?
Treatment 1 – Medication
There are many different forms of medication that doctors and other health professionals such as therapists can prescribe that will help to treat anxiety disorders. The one that your doctor chooses will depend on the type of anxiety disorder you are suffering from and how severe the problem is.
Below we take a closer look at the kinds of medication that most doctors will often prescribe their patients with in order to help bring some if not all the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders under control.
1 – Antidepressants
2 – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Instead of altering chemical levels in the brain this form of medication alters the levels of the neurotransmitter in it known as serotonin. Unlike antidepressants when prescribed the dosage will be quite small at first, but over time the doctor will increase this to ensure that they have a really good effect on the person suffering from any form of anxiety disorder.
2 – Yoga
This form of alternative treatment combines the use of physical activity along with breathing exercises and meditation to help bring one’s anxiety under control. Also it follows a certain kind of philosophy, which helps people to better under- stand how they can control their lives once more and helps them to alleviate stress levels a lot better.
4 – Herbs
For many years now it has been thought that certain types of herbs affect not only our moods but also our mental health. Even so although there are many plants that contain active ingredients that can be effective in helping to relieve some of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders as yet this effectiveness has not been formally tested.
Top Anxiety Management Techniques :
Technique 1 – Breathing Exercises
When you feel anxious you will notice that your breathing becomes much more rapid and shallow. Often as a result of this you will start to feel light headed and confused. This is because there aren’t sufficient amounts of oxygen being passed to the brain to help it work properly.
However there are certain breathing exercises that you may want to consider learning and which will help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. In turn this will then help you to think more clearly and see that the situation you are in is not as dangerous as you first imagined.
The exercise we recommend that you try doing to help regulate your breathing when feeling anxious is as following.
To start with it is important that you actually time your breathing so you can see just how rapid it is. Only when you have done this can you then do the fol- lowing to help ensure that you get your breathing under control once more.
Technique 2 – Thought Management
Learning exercises that help you to manage your thoughts better is important as they help to get your mind away from the situation that is causing your anxiety levels to rise. There are numerous thought management techniques one can use these days that can help you to manage the symptoms associated with your anxiety disorder more effectively.
For example there are certain exercises that you can do that help to provide you with a distraction from what is making you feel anxious. Then there are those that are specifically designed to help you learn to ensure that when negative thoughts do begin to appear you can redirect your mind into creating more positive ones. These are known as mindfulness techniques.
However one of the simplest thought management techniques you can use is that known as “thought replacement”. With this particular technique you will be required to write down a number of coping statements that you then refer to when any worrying thoughts begin to appear.
Which type of thought management technique you may use will depend on what form of anxiety disorder it is you suffer from. The only person who can help you to determine which of these techniques is best for you is a qualified mental health professional such as psychologist.