The Effective Habit: You Put No Demands On Yourself To Feel Calm You Allow Yourself To Feel However You Feelthe Anxiety Habit: You Believe That You Shouldnt Feel Anxious So You Try To Fight It
People with an anxiety problem put demands on their feelings. They believe there is a right way and a wrong way to feel in any given situation. They might deem it ok to feel anxious before giving a speech in front of 100 people, but not ok to be sitting at work feeling panicky for seemingly no reason.
Well unfortunately, your mind does not care about should. You feel the way you feel. There is no should, your feelings just are what they are. Demanding that they be anything other than what they are is just going to drive you nuts, because feelings are something that happens to you, not something you choose.
People who do not have an anxiety problem accept this. They have no expectations that they should feel calm all the time. So when they dont feel calm, this is no big deal. And they dont treat it like its a big deal. They let themselves feel whatever they feel and move on with their day.
Do Genes Cause Anxiety
No one has ever identified an anxiety gene, and it is unlikely that one will ever emerge anxiety proves to be a complex condition that arises through many pathways. Some studies estimate that the heritability of generalized anxiety is no more than 30 percent. As with the transmission of depression-prone styles of thinking, families lastingly shape their children by many means. For example, the adults may display and, by the power of repeated example, silently pass on to their children skills for coping with the kinds of emotionally disruptive experiences that can trigger anxietyor they may become disorganized and unable to function by such experiences. Nevertheless, studies indicate that genes lay a foundation for anxiety primarily by contributing to the personality trait of neuroticism, characterized by volatility of the negative emotion system. It is observable in the readiness to perceive the negative aspects of challenging situations and to react to them with negative emotions.
Are There Risk Factors For Anxiety
There are multiple factors that create vulnerability to anxiety under stressful circumstances. On a purely psychological level is the ability to manage negative emotions. People lacking emotion regulation skills are at heightened risk of both anxiety and depression. Having a history of adverse life experiences during childhood, such as intense maltreatment or bouts of serious illness, also predisposes people to anxiety. It doesnt change the makeup of genes but it can permanently alter their level of activity so that that the brain is constantly on the lookout for and perceiving potential threats. Perhaps the strongest risk factor for anxiety is having the personality trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are dispositionally inclined to find experiences distressing and to worry.
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Deregulation Of Brain Chemistry
Several studies have shown that brain chemistry imbalances are a very likely cause of anxiety disorders. This research has shown that those suffering from anxiety often have issues with several neurotransmitters , including serotonin, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid .
Its not entirely clear if the imbalance was due to poor coping strategies, or if the imbalances came first and lead to the experience of anxiety. Therapy – without any medicinal intervention – has been shown to improve chemical regulation, indicating that even though there may be a biological component, the mind can overcome them and improve the flow of neurotransmitters throughout the brain.
But in some cases, doctors prescribe medicines for these issues that are specifically designed to improve neurotransmitter regulation, and they often work at least in small doses. This indicates that neurotransmitters are something that can be changed both biologically and environmentally.
Serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA also play a role in sleep, mood, and emotional stability, each of which can affect experiences that lead to anxiety disorders.
For more information, consider the following topics to read:
- Serotonin and Anxiety
- Serotonin Deficiency and All Anxiety
- Chemical Imbalances and Anxiety
Tip : Look At Your Worries In New Ways
The core symptom of GAD is chronic worrying. Its important to understand what worrying is, since the beliefs you hold about worrying play a huge role in triggering and maintaining GAD. You may feel like your worries come from the outsidefrom other people, events that stress you out, or difficult situations youre facing. But, in fact, worrying is self-generated. The trigger comes from the outside, but your internal running dialogue keeps it going.
When youre worrying, youre talking to yourself about things youre afraid of or negative events that might happen. You run over the feared situation in your mind and think about all the ways you might deal with it. In essence, youre trying to solve problems that havent happened yet, or worse, simply obsessing on worst-case scenarios.
All this worrying may give you the impression that youre protecting yourself by preparing for the worst or avoiding bad situations. But more often than not, worrying is unproductivesapping your mental and emotional energy without resulting in any concrete problem-solving strategies or actions.
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Tips For Managing Mild Anxiety
There are different ways that you may be able to overcome mild anxiety on your own to enjoy better emotional wellness. Below are three strategies you might try to cope with your anxious feelings:
- Smile. Smilingeven when you don’t feel like itincreases endorphins, replacing anxiety with calm and making you feel good.
- Breathe. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce anxiety. It also helps get oxygen to your brain and will enable you to think more clearly.
- Journal. Journaling naturally forces you to slow down and work through your anxious thoughts. It can also help you identify your negative thought patterns, which can help you find new ways to cope.
Whatever you do, try not to avoid anxiety-provoking situations. Although avoidance may give you some short-term relief, it only hurts you in the long run.
Test Anxiety Symptoms Causes And Treatments
If you or a loved one are struggling with an anxiety disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Many people experience stress or anxiety before an exam. In fact, a little nervousness can actually help you perform your best. However, when this distress becomes so excessive that it actually interferes with performance on an exam, it is known as test anxiety.
What does it feel like to experience test anxiety? You paid attention in class, took detailed notes, read every chapter, and even attended extra study sessions after class, so you should do great on that big exam, right?
When the test is presented, however, you find yourself so nervous that you blank out the answers to even the easiest questions. If this experience sounds familiar, then you might be experiencing test anxiety.
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How To Distinguish Between Productive And Unproductive Worrying
If youre focusing on what if scenarios, your worrying is unproductive.
Once youve given up the idea that your worrying somehow helps you, you can start to deal with your worry and anxiety in more productive ways. This may involve challenging irrational worrisome thoughts, learning how to stop worrying, and learning to accept uncertainty in your life.
Cognitive And Behavioral Symptoms
Cognitive and behavioral symptoms can include avoiding situations that involve testing. This can involve skipping class or even dropping out of school. In other cases, people might use drugs or alcohol to cope with symptoms of anxiety.
Other cognitive symptoms include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and negative self-talk.
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Anxiety Disorders: An Overview
In an anxiety-related disorder, your fear or worry does not go away and can get worse over time. It can influence your life to the extent that it can interfere with daily activities like school, work and/or relationships. Fear, stress, and anxiety are “normal feelings and experiences” but they are completely different than suffering from any of the seven diagnosable disorders plus substance-induced anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma- or stressor-related disorders.
Anxiety disorders keep people from sleeping, concentrating, talking to others, or even leaving their home. Anxiety that may need treatment is often irrational, overwhelming, and disproportionate to the situation. It makes sufferers feel as though they have no control over their feelings, and it can involve severe physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, or trembling. It becomes classified as a disorder when normal anxiety becomes irrational and begins to recur and interfere with daily life.
But, as an example, what if someone will not leave their home for extended periods of time because they are afraid of being in a crowd or being reminded of a past traumatic event. That is not a “normal feeling or experience.”
If you think you might be struggling with an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone:
Panic Attacks Are A Common Symptom
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in certain situations or for no apparent reason. A panic attack does not mean a person is necessarily suffering an anxiety disorder. However, a panic attack is a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack may include:
- Shortness of breath
The cause of panic attacks is unknown, but they may be related to a chemical response in the brain, caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes in the body, such as shallow breathing and rapid heartbeat.
Panic attacks can be frightening. Some people say they feel like they are going to die or go crazy. People affected by panic attacks may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the development of other anxiety disorders including agoraphobia.
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The Effective Habit: You Let Yourself Think Negative Thoughtsthe Anxiety Habit: You Consider Negative Thoughts Dangerous And Try Not To Think About Them
At first glance, you might think I wrote this one backwards: isnt it bad to think negative thoughts? Isnt that part of the problem? Absolutely not.
You probably know what happens when you try to stop thinking about something: it just makes you think about it more, right? Well, people with a lot of anxiety tend to do this a lot, even though it doesnt work. Certain thoughts are so painful to them that they consider these thoughts dangerous, and they do anything in their power to not think about thembut that just ends up making it worse.
You might be surprised to learn that people who dont have an anxiety problem also have lots of negative thoughtsthey just deal with them in a very different way: They dont try to do anything about them.
When they have negative thoughts, they simply dont spend much time on them. They accept the negative thoughts rather than fighting them, which makes the thoughts lose their power.
Is It Nerves Or Anxiety
Nervousness and anxiety are similar in that both cause a variety of physical and cognitive symptoms. But that’s where the similarities end.
- Length of time:Nervousness ends when the nerve-wracking situation is over. Anxiety is persistent. The intensity may ebb and flow, but it never completely goes away.
- Intensity: Nervousness doesn’t prevent you from doing the things that make you nervous. Anxiety, on the other hand, can prevent you from doing something you enjoy and make it difficult to focus and go about your day.
- Focus: Nervousness is a response to something specific, while anxiety is often more general. You may feel anxious but can’t always pinpoint what you’re anxious about.
Remember that while nervousness can be a sign of an anxiety disorder, it’s very common to experience it from time to time without actually having an anxiety disorder.
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Anxiety Symptoms That Might Point To A Disorder
Everyone can expect to have the occasional bout of anxietymaybe you get nervous before an interview or a first datebut sometimes, that anxiety doesn’t subside, which may indicate an anxiety disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , there are a few different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia-related anxiety disorders, but they all hinge on one important aspect: when overwhelming feelings of worry or fear impinge on a person’s daily life.
Researchers believe that anxiety disorders can stem from both genetic and environmental factors, and these anxiety disorders are typically treated through a variety of interventions, including psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two, according to the NIMH.
While anxiety disorders are often hard to pinpointand often benefit from a correct diagnosis from a mental health professionalthere are some signs and symptoms that are common among those with most types of anxiety disorders. Here’s what you need to know, and including when you should seek professional help.
What Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal emotion. Itâs your brainâs way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.
Occasional anxiety is OK. But anxiety disorders are different. Theyâre a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear. The excessive anxiety can make you avoid work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations that might trigger or worsen your symptoms.
With treatment, many people with anxiety disorders can manage their feelings.
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What Is A Panic Attack
Panic attacks can be caused by heredity, chemical imbalances, stress and the use of stimulants .
Some people have only one or two attacks and are never bothered again. Panic attacks can occur with other psychiatric disorders. In panic disorders, however, the panic attacks return repeatedly and the person develops an intense fear of having another attack. Without help, this “fear of fear” can make people avoid certain situations and can interfere with their lives even when they are not having a panic attack. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the problem and get help.
Tips for dealing with a panic attack
- Realize that although your symptoms are frightening, they are an exaggeration of normal stress reactions and aren’t dangerous or harmful.
- Face the feelings rather than fighting them, and they will become less intense.
- Don’t add to the panic by asking “What if?” Tell yourself “So what!”
- Stay in the present. Notice what is actually happening rather than what you think might happen.
- Rate your fear level on a scale of 1 to 10 and watch it change. Notice that it doesn’t stay at a high level for more than a few seconds.
- Distract yourself with a simple task like counting backwards or lightly snapping a rubber band around your wrist.
- When the fear comes, expect it and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away.