In some situations, anxiety is alarm which informs us that something is wrong and/or dangerous. In that case our body has two responses – fight or flight and anxiety has protective role and goal to keep us safe.
Sometimes we perceive things as treat and we start to over worry. Sometimes we can not identify from where those treats are coming. Our worries are persistant or disproportional with high intensity, affect our life, always feel under tension and avoiding situations….then maybe we can start to think about an anxiety disorder.
When we’re very anxious, we have intense feelings of worry or distress that are not easy to control. Anxiety can interfere with how we go about our everyday lives, and make it hard to cope with ’normal‘ challenges.
According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. In Australia, anxiety is the most common mental health condition. Up to one-third of women and one-fifth of men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
Severe anxiety is a feature of a group of mental health disorders including:
generalized anxiety disorder- is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things
social phobia- is characterized by a significant amount of fear in one or more social situations, causing distress, these fears usually comes from others negative evaluation
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)- is a mental disorder in which a person feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly (called „compulsions“), or has certain thoughts repeatedly (called „obsessions“)
panic disorder- is characterized by repeatedly panic attacks and fear that something terrified will happen. Panic attack is sudden rush of fear.
separation anxiety disorder- is characterized with intense fear when individual thinks about separation from home or people with who he/she is extremely attached
agoraphobia- is characterized by fear and avoiding situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- developed after traumatic experiences
Signs and symptoms can vary, but some of the most common are:
Tension and fear most of the time, nervous, always on the edge, detached from body, feeling of vomiting. You may think “I will go crazy, I will die, I do not want go out today, I cannot handle this” etc. Moreover, you can have sleep issues, pain in stomach, not big enough capacity of lungs, sweeting and thirst and concentration problems.
We can start to expect the worst from situations and think things are more dangerous than they actually are. This is also called ‚catastrophizing‘. This kind of persistent worry makes it hard to cope at work, home, school or with others. Impact on life is huge and make people avoid social events which make them isolated, which increase fear of being alone, crazy or lost.
Anxiety is emotional, physically and psychological exhausting. People who are affected just want to stop, to disappear. As early as you recognize symptoms you can seek for help. Sometimes physical symptoms can be perceived as a heart attack and regardless you should visit your doctor and do examination that will exclude other medical conditions.
As early as you start, relief and recover will come sooner. There are many effective treatments and they include psychotherapy, medications, meditation techniques and relaxation.
Find someone you trust, share with her/him worries, find psychotherapist you feel comfortable with, ask for support, eat and exercise because your body can and is your ground that can hold you, learn ways to manage stress and do not be harsh and critical toward yourself.