Anxiety is a general term that refers to both a set of symptoms and a number of different psychological disorders, all of which are associated with fear, panic, nervousness, apprehension, and/or worrying. These disorders can change our emotions and feelings and affect how we behave. Due to the many interconnections between mind, body, and emotions, they are often also associated with the development of physical symptoms of anxiety (headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, elevated blood pressure, etc.).
Everyone experiences some of the symptoms of anxiety from time to time – perhaps as a vague, unsettling feeling that arises in the face of certain demands or challenges in our lives (before a speech, interview, test, deadline, or performance, for example). It may be mild, of brief duration, and of no consequence.
Severe anxiety, on the other hand, can be extremely debilitating and have a serious impact on your life. When it reaches the level that it interferes with sleep, relationships, performance, or physical health, you should consider it a problem and get to work exploring treatments for anxiety disorders it and dealing with it.
Anxiety may be further classified into several types:
What Are The Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety may produce symptoms at many levels of your system.
At the mental level, symptoms of anxiety often cause excessive, unrealistic worry, decreased creativity, disorganization, decreased short-term memory, and poor concentration.
Symptoms of anxiety at the physical level can become quite troublesome, and because they sometimes mimic common illnesses, they may create fear and thus worsen the anxiety. The symptoms that you may notice include:
- upset stomach with nausea,
- diarrhea, or constipation,
- headache or backache,
- nervous symptoms such as trembling, numbness or “pins and needles” in the extremities,
- restlessness, and flushing/sweating
- heart palpitations,
- frequent urination,
- fatigue, or sleeplessness
Symptoms of anxiety at the emotional level may include feelings of apprehension, fear, helplessness, and a disinclination to take risks and confront challenges. Sometimes crying and even rage can be triggered by anxiety.
Behaviorally, people may turn to addictions and other behaviors that give some short-term relief, but which may well produce long-term problems. Alcoholism, drug addiction, emotional eating, rage alcoholism, shopping or gambling uncontrollably, withdrawal, and isolation are all common results. Sometimes the anxiety triggers chronic worry or the needless repetition of ineffective behaviors as in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Learning to create serenity within, and to abolish the anxiety underlying these problems can be curative to dealing with anxiety.
What Causes Anxiety?
Different people are born with different propensities to experience anxiety. Some, such as those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), seem to have had anxiety since day one. Others, such as those with Panic Disorder/Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, or Phobia experience anxiety very severely, but only at certain times. Others have never been aware of anxiety in their whole lives. Each person has his or her predisposition towards or away from anxiety disorders, and this, along with their unique life traumas combine to create neural networks within that still continue to significantly impact their lives, their experience of the world, and their reactions to it.
Some people have carried their anxiety around with them most of their lives; others discover that symptoms of anxiety can be triggered by certain external events that are perceived as stressful. This can be stress at work or school, stress from financial or relationship problems, or stress from a catastrophic event such as a disaster, abuse, victimization, or death of a loved one. And, of course, the causes and effects of stress can also be triggered by physical causes, such as a severe health challenge, side effects of medication, or lack of sufficient oxygen. Intoxication with drugs, or withdrawal from drugs can trigger anxiety as well.
How To Deal With Anxiety
Dr. Miller has studied anxiety and worked with anxious patients and clients for many years and has developed many ways to understand and treat anxiety and the diseases they cause. See programs for the treatment of anxiety at our Online Store.
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