Even if you don’t know how to precisely define it, you must have felt some slight unease on your first day at a new job or college. And although it definitely does not make us comfortable, anxiety can make us do better. It helps us focus on quickly assessing a stressful situation and discovering unfavorable factors in it. Thus, it can be a normal and useful response to stress.
Due to the very definition of anxiety as vague, free-floating fear, the question of what it is not easy to answer. Different people feel threatened in different situations. Symptoms can vary from person to person. They can be mental, but also physical.
In this blog you will learn how anxiety and depression can be linked, whether there are medications for this condition, and how to treat it. Most important of all – where and how best to get an expert assessment of your condition.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety occurs in situations when there is no real danger (as in the case of fear), but when we have the feeling that something will still threaten us. When we expect something bad to happen. That could endanger our health, that we are going to fail the exam, lose our job, run out of money… It doesn’t have to be related to reality and it doesn’t have to mean that it will really happen.
And is this feeling useful, and if so, to what extent? Well, in some situations it is not harmful. It is a normal, common reaction. Our body’s natural response to stress. Its purpose is to activate us in situations where there is a reason for action. However…
When anxiety begins to be the dominating experience, despite the fact that we are not really endangered, it becomes harmful – pathological. In the case when our reaction to a stressful situation is excessive, irrational, when it is not realistic, it is called anxiety disorder.
That is a psychological problem that can make people’s lives much more difficult. As much as the people around them think that this feeling is unreasonable and has no support in reality.
And precisely because of the very definition of anxiety as vague, free-floating fear, it is difficult for people to assess whether what they feel is rational, justified, or whether that feeling of fear that “cannot be tied to anything in particular” only unnecessarily deprives them of living a good life.
How does it develop?
The cause of anxiety has not been determined and varies from person to person. Most research indicates a genetic cause, environmental factors, as well as the intensity of stress and the length of our exposure to it.
However, research shows that women are more likely to suffer from this condition. It is a fairly common mental disorder, especially in recent times. It is estimated that almost a third of the human population today, at some point in their lives, suffered from a pathological form of anxiety.
What has brought anxiety to the list of the most common mental illnesses of the new age? One of the factors is the influence of the environment, both the broader social context in our era, and our microenvironment in which we function on a daily basis.
Also the stress control mechanisms we adopted from the environment in which we grew up. For example, if we have someone in the family who suffers from this condition. Or if we have experienced a traumatic situation in the past – we will be more susceptible to it.
Another factor for the development of anxiety is stress, its duration and intensity.
We mentioned that anxiety can be a natural reaction to stress. If the stress is stronger or accumulates in smaller quantities, but is constant over a long period (for example, in the case of long and severe illness) – anxiety disorder can also occur.
It is also influenced by genetic predisposition and personality traits. People we usually perceive as “gentle” or “sensitive” are more susceptible to it due to the delicate build of their nervous system.
The combination of these factors, however, varies from person to person.
What are the symptoms?
As we mentioned, symptoms vary from person to person. In general, they can be divided into two groups: mental and physical. Above all, anxiety is described as floating fear. But it can also be accompanied by physical symptoms: for example, the impression of being suffocated, followed by increased sweating. Chest pain or palpitations may also occur.
Also, when we take into account that anxiety can sometimes be normal, while it sometimes occurs in a pathological form, it is clear that the symptoms can be of different intensity and duration.
Here is how this condition manifests itself on the psychological level…
Psychological symptoms of anxiety
These symptoms often occur:
• Feeling of immoderate, inappropriate, heightened fear
• Restlessness, tension, increased nervousness
• Sudden weakness in the body
• Feeling tired
• Stress that is hard to control
• Poor concentration and decreased focus
• Sleep disturbance (too much, or too little sleep)
• Discomfort in large groups or in certain situations, and therefore avoiding a unknown people or those situations.
In the case of chronic anxiety, the symptoms do not differ, except that some of them may be stronger. This is manifested in several ways, such as:
• generalized anxiety disorder
• obsessive-compulsive disorder
• panic disorder
• post-traumatic stress disorder
• social anxiety.
Anxiety: physical symptoms
• Chest pain
• Chest tightness
• Heart skipping (or heart palpitations)
• Tingling in the arms and legs
• Shaking hands
• Wet palms
• Pulsation in the abdomen
• Pulsation in the ear or head
• Gastrointestinal problems
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms may indicate other mental difficulties. Anxiety and depression, for example, can be linked. Depressed people often have problems with nervousness, irritability or sleep, and also, sometimes these two conditions occur together. Some depressed people have suffered from anxiety in their lifetime. Therefore, it is important to consult a professional should you experience any of these symptoms.
Anxiety also occurs in children. It is part of some developmental stages and is normal in certain periods of child development. However, sometimes it occurs outside of them. Between 10 to 20% of children suffer from anxiety disorder. It is difficult to expect young children in particular to verbalize the feeling of anxiety, so it is important to recognize the symptoms. If they are not physical, you should visit a child psychologist.
Anxiety medication helps adults deal with all the above symptoms. It is only important that the medications are determined and properly dosed by a professional. Read more about it in the next section.
How to overcome anxiety?
First of all, is anxiety curable? Absolutely, with the vast majority of people. As we have mentioned, one should distinguish between normal and pathological anxiety. If you have identified some of the symptoms from our list – and they last for a longer period or to a greater extent – it is best to contact an expert for an assessment.
It can be a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist. The same goes if you think you are suffering from depression. Because, as we explained in the previous section, anxiety and depression can be linked.
How is anxiety treated?
There is no universal recipe. For some it is very easy, for others it is harder. Some are helped by meditation, yoga, stress control techniques… What certainly helps is psychotherapy.
However, if your anxiety is so severe that a mental health professional believes you need anxiety medication, you have several options, depending on your symptoms. You should definitely talk about this with the expert you contacted.
How to beat anxiety? Research shows that in order for anxiety therapy to be successful, it is not necessary to focus on childhood during psychotherapy sessions.
Effective therapy is focused on new strategies and techniques for managing emotions, thoughts and behavior.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the modalities that has proven successful in treating anxiety.
If you want to deal with anxiety and lead an easier and more fulfilling life, contact our mental health experts at firstname.lastname@example.org