Anxiety: A Widespread Problem
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric problem, affecting over 20 million U.S. adults and children every year.
Because the physical symptoms often overshadow the psychological, and because medical conditions and anxiety often coexist, establishing a diagnosis can be difficult.
Your doctor may suspect an underlying medical condition if your exam and history reveal clues such as:
- You havent suffered from anxiety in the past
- No one in your family has had an anxiety/other mood disorder
- Youve experienced no recent major life changes
- The anxiety came on recently and rapidly, versus gradually
- You seem less alert
- Your symptoms fluctuate a lot
- Youve experienced disorientation or memory loss
- Youve recently changed medications
- Your physical exam or vital signs are suddenly abnormal
- You cant provide a clear history of your condition
- Anxiety surfaces later in life
- You have multiple medical conditions
Find Out What Could Be Making Your Anxiety Worse
Everyone gets anxious, restless, and frazzled but if you constantly feel worried, tense, or on edge, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.
Examples of other anxiety disorders include:
- Specific phobias
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can have more than one anxiety disorder.
Research shows that a combination of environmental and genetic factors likely increase a persons risk for developing an anxiety disorder, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. Like so many health conditions, anxiety appears to run in families.
In addition to underlying disorders, anxiety may be caused by stress, whether from a major life event or the accumulated effect of small everyday stressors. Anxiety can also come with a medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or thyroid disorders that need treatment. Theres a clear link between caffeine and anxiety and alcohol and anxiety. And certain medications may cause anxiety. In this case, avoiding caffeine and alcohol or changing medications may reduce the anxiety. Its important to note that while all these things can cause anxious feelings, this type of anxiety is distinct from a psychiatric diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
A Response To The Challenge Of Emerging Adulthood
The third reason why people develop panic attacks is that they often experienced a period of high stress and stressful changes in the year or so prior to the onset of the panic attacks. These might have been bad events, such as feeling trapped in a bad job or relationship, or experiencing the loss of family and/or friends. Or they may have had a lot of changes which weren’t bad in themselves – finishing school, changing jobs, getting married, moving, buying/selling a home, having babies, etc. – but which had a cumulative stressful effect on the person to the point that he/she found it hard to cope with them all.
It’s interesting to note that, for most people who develop panic attacks, it usually begins in their twenties or thirties – the years of establishing an independent life for yourselves when you are most likely to experience these kinds of changes.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks
- Caregivers do not know for sure what causes anxiety attacks. Sometimes they are caused by being in a situation that you find upsetting. You may have them due to a stressful life event, such as getting divorced. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if you also have another mental health problem. Other mental health problems include depression , or alcoholism . Anxiety attacks may happen for no reason. Anxiety attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender.
- Some health conditions or medicines may cause anxiety attack symptoms. Using or withdrawing from alcohol or illegal drugs may also cause symptoms. Some people have anxiety attacks that are triggered by the fear of having a future anxiety attack. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if someone in your family also has them.
Can Stress Bring On Anxiety
Anxiety and stress are intimately related anxiety is a reaction to stress. Anxiety is the name we give to the internal sensations of warning generated by the bodys reaction to a mental or physical threat. The sensations are set in motion by the stress response system, whose job is to alert us to and protect us from danger. Without waiting for us to make a conscious assessment of any danger, it swiftly sends out chemical warning signals, such as cortisol and adrenaline, to various organs. The physical discomfort of anxiety is like a bodyguard its job is to protect us by jolting us into action. But it can persist and, by altering the function of neural circuits in the brain, overwhelm the ability to exert rational control.
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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is a word that describes feelings of apprehension, concern, fear, nervousness, restlessness, or worry. Normal feelings of anxiety often serve as an alarm system that alerts you to danger. Your heart may beat fast. Your palms may get sweaty. Anxiety can provide an extra spark to help you get out of danger. It also can give you the energy to get things done in normal, busy situations. These occasional worries are normal.
Generalized anxiety disorder is ongoing anxiety that isnt related to a particular event or situation. It also can be anxiety that isnt normal about a situation. For instance, a person who has GAD may constantly worry about something thats unlikely to happen. These worries interfere with your day-to-day life.
Women are more likely to have GAD than men. GAD usually begins to affect people in their teens and early 20s.
What You Can Do
To get through a panic attack, try to take control of your breathing first. Find a place where you can sit or be comfortable. Concentrate on making your breath slow and even. Try to inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 2 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds. Tell yourself that youâre not in danger and that the attack will pass.
If youâre not sure if youâre having a panic attack, itâs a good idea to go to the hospital to rule out any other health problems.
Panic disorder is one of the most treatable types of anxiety disorders. Medication and a type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can help. See your doctor if you have panic attacks often.
Harvard Health Publications: âUnderstanding the Stress Response.â
Robertson, D. Primer on the Autonomic Nervous System, Second Edition, Elsevier Academic Press, 2004.
The BMJ: âPanic Disorder.â
Biological Psychiatry: âDo Unexpected Panic Attacks Occur Spontaneously?â âFunctional t1Ï Imaging in Panic Disorder.â
Psychological Medicine: âDistinct Phasic and Sustained Brain Responses and Connectivity of Amygdala and Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis During Threat Anticipation in Panic Disorder.â
The Journal of Neuroscience: âReduced Serotonin Type 1A Receptor Binding in Panic Disorder.â
Mayo Clinic: âPanic Attacks and Panic Disorder.â
American Academy of Family Physicians: âPanic Disorder.â
Centre for Clinical Interventions : âPanic Stations.â
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What Are The Most Common Causes Of Anxiety
Anxiety is a response to uncertainty and danger, and the trigger can be almost anything, or nothing in particular, just a generalized, vague sense of dread or misfortune. High on the list of anxiety-generating situations is having to give a talk or presentation or being called on in class, where people risk loss of social standing by being judged negatively.
People can feel anxious because their neural circuitry has become so sensitized it perceives threat where it doesnt exist. Too, there are substancescaffeine is oneand medications that stimulate the same physical sensations as anxiety. People differ in their susceptibility to anxiety, as a result of their biological makeup, their parental inheritance, their own life history, personality factors, and the coping skills they acquire or cultivate.
How To Get Through An Anxiety Attack
Here are some things that helped me while actually experiencing an anxiety attack.
- Take deep breaths
- Loosen your grip
- Sip some water
- Rinse your face in the sink
- Talk to yourself. Youre in control of the situation.
Thanks for reading my post on Anxiety attack symptoms. If you have anything to add feel free to do so in the comments section. Or check us out on Facebook to post any questions or other things anxiety related.
Until next time.
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Understand That Anxiety Is A Body Reaction
Number one, anxiety is a bodily reaction.
So, it is mind and body but its predominantly body so you get the flight or fight reaction, you get the rapid heart rate, the sweating, the trembling, the scared feeling, that adrenaline surge that goes through your body and then that kicks off the thoughts, the raving thoughts, the worries.
Everything that kind of comes together to bring that anxiety reaction.
So its usually the body reaction that comes first and then the body reaction kind of triggers the mind, as in the mind goes, Ooh, the body is reacting in quite a fight or flight manner. I will scan the environment and see what the threat is.
And if there is no imminent threat then the mind will make up a threat because thats what you need the equilibrium going and I know thats horrible but thats just the way your mind and your body works.
You cant have one without the other.
They will do what they can to support each other and give you a solid consistent story even if that means going through anxiety and going through a frightening time.
When To Seek Medical Attention
The first time one experiences a panic attack, one should seek medical attention promptly in order to check oneâs overall physical and mental health and discuss the possibility and prevention of future panic attacks.
It is not uncommon for an individual, who has experienced a panic attack, to feel embarrassment in telling their family or doctor. Many people are unaware of how common it is to experience a panic attack and/or that it could relate to panic disorder or another form of anxiety â conditions, which are highly treatable with appropriate psychotherapy and/or medication.
Even if one is not diagnosed with a mental health condition, oneâs doctor will be able to advise on management techniques in the event that a future panic attack occurs and will be able to perform check-ups to rule out other conditions or health concerns. For example, one may be screened to rule out the risk of a heart attack, particularly if one believed that one was experiencing a heart attack during the episode.
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Who Gets Panic Attacks
At least 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder both conditions classified as anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women as in men. Panic disorder typically affects individuals when theyre in their 20s but is also seen in young children, adolescents, and older adults.
Living With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People who have GAD can get better. If you take medicine for it, you may not have to take it forever. Your doctor will tell you if its OK to stop taking your medicine.
The most important things are to talk about it, seek help, and take action. Action can help you gain a sense of control. The following are some tips on coping with anxiety:
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How Panic Attacks Work
This includes such questions as:
* What triggers a panic attack?
* What causes panic attacks to happen on some days, and in some situations, but not others?
* Why would I have a panic attack one time I visit the grocery store or drive on a highway, and not at the same place another day?
* Why do I have less trouble if my support person is with me?
* How do panic attacks end?
For a discussion of this question, I am making available here a free copy of Chapter 7 from my Panic Attacks Workbook. Feel free to download this chapter for your own personal use.
Click here to view or download the chapter.
How Can I Get Help If I Think I Have An Anxiety Disorder
You should make an appointment to talk with your GP if you are worried about your symptoms. Or they are causing problems in your day to day life.
Your doctor will look at different things when deciding on your treatment such as the following.
- Your diagnosis and symptoms.
- Any other conditions you have.
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .
Talking therapiesThe NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has made psychological therapy more available on the NHS. IAPT services mainly provide support for low to moderate anxiety and depression.
The service can be run by the local NHS Trust or a non-NHS agency, like a charity who work with the local Trust.
IAPT should be available in your area. You can often self-refer or ask your GP to refer you.
To find your local the IAPT service you can search online here:
You can also ask your GP or PALS service for details of local IAPT services.
You can get more information about:
- GP: What to expect from your GP by clicking here.
- Medication. Choice and managing problems by clicking here.
- Talking therapies by clicking here.
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Anxiety Caused By Anxiety
Anxiety is also self-sustaining. Earlier we mentioned panic attacks, and how they can often be caused by periods of stress that become overwhelming. But once youve had your first panic attack, you may get them again and again because of a fear of panic attacks, or because your body becomes more attuned to how it feels, which ultimately triggers them in the future.
We see this in other ways too:
- If you found yourself nervous about a plane ride, you might be fearful on future plane rides.
- If you find yourself worried about a negative thought, you may have that thought more often.
- If you experienced severe anxiety symptoms, you may be anxious about experiencing them again.
Essentially, anxiety and a fear of anxiety symptoms can create more anxiety in the future. They become their own self-sustaining cycle. So even justifiable anxiety can lead to unprompted anxiety.
Can I Have Anxiety For No Reason
Anxiety for no reason is confusing and distressing because there is no logical cause for why youre feeling what youre feeling and the human brain doesnt like having unanswered questions.
Whether youre experiencing breathing difficulties out of nowhere or your heart is racing and youre not sure if its anxiety or if youve just had too much caffeine you will be searching for the reason why you feel anxious.
In todays blog I show you how to accept your bodys anxiety reaction without going crazy about it.
Related: Panic Self Help Meditation
Watch the video or continue reading below
However, I know and Ive experienced myself that sometimes, you get anxiety for no reason.
Ive had this recently in a client, they came to me and they said, I used to get panic attacks when I was much younger and I used CBT to come out of that and it worked really well for me and I havent had any panic attacks for the last 10 years and now, suddenly, out of nowhere, Im getting panic attacks again. Why would that be?
And theres a range of reasons why this could be happening.
Anxiety usually doesnt have just one specific trigger, its usually a range of things which can include a trauma from the distant past thats been brought up again or something thats happened more recently thatd be pretty obvious, though.
And its also things like a tired mind and a tired body that unfortunately come together with a really horrible reaction for your body.
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