What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is described as a feeling of extreme nervousness. It is a psychological and physical state in which a person will show the typical sign of elevated stress. It incorporates many behavioral and emotional components that generally accompany feelings of distress regardless of whether an event or situation truly warrants such responses.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
We generally associate anxiety with feelings of nervousness, fear and excessive worry but in some cases, it can become so extreme that it manifests itself in more serious and recognizable physical symptoms. These may include physical tension, headaches, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and irregular heart rate.
Anxiety has Significant Effects on Your Life
Anxiety can have a serious impact on our lives. It can affect our ability to sleep, our motivation to take good care of our physical health, our ability to interact socially in a productive manner and our ability to otherwise function successfully and accomplish our goals. If unchecked or uncontrolled, anxiety can lead to further emotional problems leading to a lack of self confidence, decreased self esteem or even psychological illness such as depression. Anxiety certainly has the potential to degrade our mental health and thus have serious negative effects on our physical health. It can lead to a dangerous state of general poor health with carries with it all of the other negative ramifications that stem from being unhealthy.
Types Of Anxiety
There are different types of anxiety. Normal anxiety is a response to environmental or psychological stress. The feelings of fear and worry are useful in these cases because they motivate us to respond to the stress and either deal with it or escape the situation. It is part of our defense mechanisms designed to help us survive, improve or avoid dangerous situations. Anxiety becomes problematic when it exists in excessive intensity, is more frequent than normal (chronic), or when it exists in the absence of situations that should normally prompt reactions of anxiety.
When anxiety is not a normal reaction, it may fall under one of the several known anxiety disorders such as general anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobias (commonly labeled as shyness), other irrational fears and phobias, post traumatic stress disorder or even panic attacks.
Anxiety and Fear
Many people associate their anxiety with fear although they are not the same thing. Fear is an emotion. Fear is a normal response to danger or any other perceived threat. Anxiety on the other hand can occur with or without a rational reason and can persist much longer than it should. Even if the anxiety is justified, often it persists long after any threat or problem exists. Often the level of anxiety is grossly disproportionate to the source of stress. Fear helps us by allowing and prompting us to quickly deal with danger whereas anxiety when excessive, degrades our health and presents a greater problem than the original situation that triggered it. Often the situation is beyond our control but the anxiety remains even though it can provide no real benefit. In many cases, anxiety is unrelated to specific event or situation but is focused on anticipated future situations that may or may not be realistic.
Common Causes of Anxiety
Excessive anxiety can also be caused by other factors such as not getting enough sleep, not enough exercise, poor diet, prolonged stress or abuse of alcohol or other drugs. In these cases, the poor general health opens the door for anxiety, which then tends to perpetuate the poor health. This is preventable to some extent by simply changing your habits. Get a full nights sleep every night, eat healthy foods, refrain from use of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or other drugs and get regular exercise. These things have been proven time and again to significantly improve your physical, mental and emotional health all at the same time. This goes a long way toward fighting excessive anxiety.
There are many ways to relieve anxiety. In some cases, you many need to seek professional help. Psychologists and other mental health professionals are there to assist you. For less extreme cases, simple techniques such as controlled breathing, relaxation techniques, guided imagery, mediation, progressive muscle relaxation, exercise or Yoga can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety.
This section contains useful information on identifying and controlling anxiety such as warning signs and symptoms, medications, exercises and tips as well other resources. We are all different and our reasons for experiencing anxiety are quite varied. The important thing is to take action, find what works for you and do it regularly.
Next Article: Overcoming Anxiety
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