Your heart starts to feel like it’s coming right out of your chest. Your hands are clammy and maybe start to tremble. Worst of all, your head feels as though it could explode. These are just some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety.
At some point in our lives, we all experience anxiety and learn how to deal with anxiety. Unfortunately, some of us are better at this than others. Anxiety can be occasional or even rare, or it can be daily and become a regular part of our lives. But in both cases, anxiety is a serious health concern and there are many different anxiety disorders you could have. Here is some important information that you should know about anxiety so you not only understand but can even learn how to deal with anxiety yourself.
What is anxiety?
We know what the stomach flu, a headache and even the common cold is, but anxiety is not often understood as well as other illnesses. So to better understand anxiety, let’s examine the definition of anxiety.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the definition of anxiety is when individuals experience excessive worry and fear when it comes to everyday life. Furthermore, this worry and fear interferes with life and can become hard to control. Signs and symptoms of anxiety can last temporarily or can be ongoing, depending on the anxiety disorder.
Some forms of anxiety disorders are social anxiety disorder, where people become anxious in social environments, and separation anxiety where the anxiety stems from being separated either from a person or a beloved possession. As mentioned, anxiety disorders can take a toll on a person’s life, so understanding where they come from is the beginning of seeking treatment.
Risk factors of anxiety
Even though anyone can experience anxiety at any given moment, there are a few risk factors of anxiety to look out for. Some of these risk factors of anxiety include:
- Personality: Certain personalities, like being introverted, are more prone to developing anxiety disorders.
- Substance abuse: Withdrawal from substances or continued alcohol and drug abuse can lead to anxiety disorders.
- Being female: Statistics reveal that anxiety disorders most commonly occur in women.
- Trauma: Childhood or even adult trauma can develop into anxiety disorders.
- Stress: Whether it is stress due to a pre-existing illness, or stress from everyday life, stress is a large risk factor for anxiety.
- Mental Health issues: Pre-existing mental health disorders, like depression, are among the top risk factors of anxiety.
- Family members: People who have family members with anxiety disorders are at higher risk of developing it themselves.
Pre-existing medical conditions can also bring on anxiety. Some medical conditions that can lead to anxiety disorders are heart disease, diabetes, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and thyroid problems.
These are some of the most common risk factors of anxiety and should be considered when attempting to diagnose or treat anxiety.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety
Now that we understand what the definition of anxiety is, as well as risk factors of anxiety, let’s examine the signs and symptoms of anxiety. Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feelings of being powerless
- Feelings of impeding danger
- Increased heart rate
- Hyperventilation (heavy breathing)
- Weakness and fatigue
- Lack of concentration and focus other than the cause of worry.
The signs and symptoms of anxiety also greatly affect the body’s systems. For example, anxiety disorders can disrupt the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, respiratory response, nervous system and immune system. All these major systems become affected when anxiety hits which can lead to poorer health over time.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety can also affect a person’s behavior. Some behavioral signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
- Changes in personality
- Relationship problems
- Issues at the workplace
- Wanting to remain isolated
- Increased fear of situations or doing things.
As you can see, the signs and symptoms of anxiety truly take a large toll on the body as a whole and the individual, changing them as a person. Because of these significant changes, anxiety can transform a person into someone else and inhibit their ability to function.
Types of anxiety disorders
Although a few anxiety disorders have been mentioned, the list is actually quite long. When it comes to anxiety disorders, here are some of the more common ones:
- Selective mutism: The individual cannot speak in certain environments but can speak when around those who are close to them.
- Specific phobia: The anxiety is developed when the person is near something they are greatly afraid of.
- Social anxiety disorder: High level of anxiety being in social situations. This anxiety disorder makes the person feel they are being judged or looked down upon.
- Panic disorder: Episodes of intense anxiety which can result in an anxiety attack.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: Constant anxiety over daily life events.
- Substance-induced anxiety: Anxiety brought on by alcohol or drugs.
- Agoraphobia: Anxiety about places or visiting places and then losing control and bring on feelings of being trapped.
- Separation anxiety disorder: Commonly found in children, it brings on anxiety from the fear of losing parents or parental figures.
How to deal with anxiety
Because there is such a large number of anxiety disorders, how to deal with anxiety may not be the same for every person. Common forms of treatment on how to deal with anxiety include the use of medications, such as antidepressants, as well as psychotherapy, which allows the individual to talk with someone to determine the cause of their anxiety and work through it.
There are also natural ways that can help someone deal with anxiety. Some of these methods are:
- Exercise: Exercising releases mood-boosting hormones, making us feel happier and more positive. It also reduces stress and clears the mind.
- Avoid substances: If alcohol and drugs are the cause of your anxiety, or make it worse, staying off these substances is vital.
- Reduce the use of stimulants: Smoking and caffeine can make an anxious person even more so, so quitting or cutting down caffeine intake are a must.
- Meditate: Relaxation methods like meditation are useful to reduce stress.
- Sleep: A good night’s rest is important to feeling refreshed and calming your mind.
- Food: Well-balanced meals, including lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, can work to reduce anxiety.
Managing your anxiety is the key to overall well-being. Because anxiety disorders can take such a large toll on the body and all its major systems, finding an effective treatment is highly important.
Understanding the underlying cause of your anxiety is the first step when it comes to how to deal with anxiety. From there, you can seek out the proper treatment you need for recovery.
Anxiety can truly hold a person hostage within their own mind and body, preventing the enjoyment of day-to-day life. It’s very much a serious health condition and sharing your concerns may offer relief and the support you need to seek professional help.
If you have experienced any of the signs and symptoms of anxiety, or maybe have some of the risk factors of anxiety, take action to get yourself checked – so you can begin enjoying life once again.
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