What Causes Anxiety Disorders
We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.
Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.
Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.
Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.
Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.
When Is Anxiety A Mental Health Problem
Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem if:
- your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
- your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
- you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
- your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
- you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
- you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.
If your symptoms fit a particular set of medical criteria then you might be diagnosed with a particular anxiety disorder. But it’s also possible to experience problems with anxiety without having a specific diagnosis. Our pages on self-care and treatment for anxiety offer suggestions for help and support.
What Is Extreme Anxiety
It is important to understand that extreme anxiety is not a clinical term or a diagnosis. Instead, it is a way that people can describe the subjective experience of severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder.
How people experience anxiety can differ from one person to the next. One person may feel symptoms like butterflies in their stomach, while another person might have a full-blown panic attack.
Suppose you are experiencing life-limiting anxiety and makes it difficult to function in different areas of life including work, school, and relationships. In that case, there is a chance that you might have an anxiety disorder.
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What Is Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder can sometimes refer to generalized anxiety disorder or a group of mental illnesses that include generalized anxiety disorder. In reality, anxiety disorders can be classified in to six major types of disorder that provoke an imbalanced response to normal or non-stressors in a persons life.
Anxiety disorders can include:
Some of these disorders may have similar symptoms, like recurring intrusive thoughts, random onset, or a prolonged reaction time that can be difficult to recover from. Anxiety sufferers may experience common warning signs, like an increased heartbeat or blood pressure, nausea, labored breathing, and a sense of losing control.
Remember: anxiety isnt always a bad thing. We need the adrenaline rush anxiety can provide to stay alert or propel ourselves to action. However, when anxiety is constant, overwhelming, and interferes with your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder that will require professional treatment. To differentiate between common anxiety symptoms and an anxiety disorder, ask yourself:
- Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things dont happen a certain way?
- Do you avoid everyday situations or activities that cause you anxiety?
- Do you experience sudden or unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
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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How Does Anxiety Build Up
Anxious thoughts chase each other like a dog chasing its tail.
Imagine a guy who thinks, What if my hair is thinning?’ suggests Dr. Bea. That creates anxious energy. He feels his head, checks in the mirror and asks his wife, who says, Youve got a nice head of hair.
That feels good for about 20 seconds, until he thinks, She wasnt really listening to me. Next thing you know, hes online, searching for baldness cures. One of them looks good until he sees its side effects include ED and thinks, Thats no good! Now hes back to square one.
This is one small example of how trying to quell anxiety with reassuring thoughts, or to fix anxious thoughts with other thoughts, just doesnt work.
Its also exhausting. Reassuring thoughts are like a short-acting drug they wear off quickly, says Dr. Bea.
Talk To A Professional
Anxiety is one of the most common types of mental health conditions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , 19.1% of adults in the United States experience an anxiety disorder each year and an estimated 31.1% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives.
Anxiety disorders also tend to be more prevalent among women than men. Because women are twice as likely as men to be affected by an anxiety disorder, experts suggest that women and girls age 13 and older should be screened for anxiety during regular health exams.
If anxiety is making it difficult to function normally or creating significant distress in your life, it is important to get help. This anxiety typically will not go away on its own and it often grows worse over time. Many of the coping strategies that people use to decrease anxietysuch as avoidanceend up making the problem worse.
Anxiety is a common problem that tends to affect women more than men. If you are experiencing extreme anxiety, it is important to seek help from a health professional. A mental health professional can diagnose your condition and recommend treatment options that can help you combat feelings of extreme anxiety.
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Is Anxiety Bad For You
A little anxiety is fine, but long-term anxiety may cause more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure . You may also be more likely to develop infections. If youre feeling anxious all the time, or its affecting your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.
What Is The Difference Between Fear And Anxiety
Anxiety differs from fear in several important ways. Fear is a response to present danger it is usually highly focused, attached to a very specific thing or circumstance, and meant to mobilize fast action. Anxiety doesnt require an external stimulus it is a response to real or imagined future threat, and it is typically more diffuse, setting in motion the need for constant vigilance in anticipation of some calamity. Fear is contagious, marked by characteristic featureswidened pupils, pale skin that signal others to be afraid. Anxiety is highly subjective. While anxiety shares some of the physiological signs of fearheightened awareness and fast heart rate, similarly set off by the hormones of the stress responseit carries a heavy cognitive load of worry, a form of rumination about what might possibly go wrong in the future.
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Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
Is Anxiety Ever Good
Anxiety is the reason your ancestors survived, enabling you to be reading these words now. Anxiety reflects the sensations that are triggered in body and brain in response to perceiving a threat theyre intended as an alarm, to jolt you into paying attention and taking appropriate action to head off possible danger. In short, anxiety protects you. But the system is built to err on the side of caution, which is why we feel anxious even in the absence of a real threat. The sensitivity of the alarm can be reset by traumatic experience so that it is always on. Further, the threats can be wholly invented by your own imaginationthoughts of ways any situation could possibly go wrong. Neither flaw in the system diminishes the value of anxietyto keep you alive.
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Prepare For The Next Day
Getting yourself organised for the following day can help put your mind at ease, Bijlani says.
Many people struggle to get to sleep because they are anxious about the following day. You can try to reduce this anxiety by making sure that you have everything prepared. For example, you could have a to-do list or even get your clothes ready.
There Are Effective Treatments For Anxiety
Treatment is tailored to the diagnosis. Effective options include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as skipping caffeine, exercising regularly, and avoiding medicines or substances that might cause anxiety symptoms.
- Mind-body approaches, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and techniques to ease muscle tension and promote calm.
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. CBT teaches people to challenge and reframe distorted or unhelpful anxious thinking, because thoughts influence feelings and actions. Exposure therapy helps people tolerate and calm anxiety by gradually exposing a person to feared situations or objects under guidance from a therapist.
- Medicines, such as short-acting drugs called benzodiazepines, which are taken as needed when anxiety spikes. Low doses of some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , help relieve anxiety when taken daily.
Often, a combination of approaches is best. Relieving anxiety with medicine while using CBT or exposure therapy to strengthen coping skills and help retrain the brain can do much to make anxiety manageable.
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Who Is This Anxiety Quiz For
Below is a list of questions designed for people who are experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder . If youd like to learn more about anxiety read Psycoms guide, Tell Me All I Need to Know about Anxiety.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. People with social anxiety have an intense fear of situations where they could be watched, judged, embarrassed, or rejected by others. The symptoms are so extreme that they interfere with the persons daily routine and prevent them from taking part in ordinary activities.
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Does Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse
Moping is a mistake that is easy to ignore and that also makes anxiety worse. But it is not the only one. For example, many people find that they feel “calmer” and more relaxed when they drink alcohol. But alcohol only numbs you to anxiety in the moment rather than providing any type of cure.
While alcohol may numb your anxiety, it also weakens your ability to cope with stress. Your mind expects alcohol to be the tool you use to take it away, and you become less likely to be able to reduce anxiety without it. Because alcohol also causes illness, dehydration, poor decision making and sleeplessness, it ends up creating more anxiety than it helped.
What Is Morning Anxiety
Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, theres a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.
The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing:
- feeling restless, on-edge, or wound up
Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.
The stress hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.
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How Do I Deal With Anxiety
There are many ways to deal with anxiety and combining a variety of approaches may help. For those with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, a combination of psychotherapy alongside a medication plan can be very effective. For those who experience anxiety from time to time, there are a variety of relaxation techniques to try that may qualm feelings of worry or fear: breathing techniques, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are just some examples of techniques to try. Finding a distraction, taking part in physical activity, and talking to someone you trust are also all great options for relieving everyday anxiety.
Coffee And Sugary Morning Foods
Coffee has developed an unfair reputation in the anxiety world. While coffee can increase your risk of anxiety symptoms and panic attacks, many people are able to drink coffee without too many problems and some even find the clarity that coffee brings to be calming.
But coffee can still contribute to feelings of morning anxiety. Studies have shown that coffee increases cortisol levels, which may trigger a physiological anxiety response. This might also involve an elevated heart rate, and for those that are sensitive to how their heart feels, that increased heart rate may trigger further anxiousness.
But coffee is not the only culprit. Many people eat foods high in sugars, from donuts to cereal to juice, and high sugar foods can also contribute to nervousness and jitters. All of these scenarios may indicate that your diet could be affecting morning anxiety.
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