Anxiety Disorders Can Have Serious Effects
An anxiety disorder may lead to social isolation and clinical depression, and can impair a persons ability to work, study and do routine activities. It may also hurt relationships with friends, family and colleagues. Its common for depression and anxiety to happen at the same time. Depression can be a serious illness with a high risk of self-harm and suicide.
What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension even if theres nothing to trigger these feelings. Most days, you may worry a lot about various topics, including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
How Does Psychotherapy Treat Anxiety Disorders
Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps you deal with your emotional response to the illness. A mental health provider talks through strategies to help you better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of psychotherapy used with anxiety disorders. CBT for anxiety teaches you to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. You then work on changing them.
- Exposure therapy focuses on dealing with the fears behind the anxiety disorder. It helps you engage with activities or situations you may have been avoiding. Your provider may also use relaxation exercises and imagery with exposure therapy.
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Complications Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But it’s best to get medical help as soon as you can.
If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.
Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.
Visit GOV.UK for further information about driving with a disability or health condition.
The Subtle Signs That Someone Might Be Struggling With Anxiety
Anxiety is a very normal part of being human, and we all experience it on some level from time to time. Its our inbuilt early warning system that has been designed by evolution to warn us when there might be trouble, and ready us to deal with it. Sometimes though, the early warning system works a little too hard, switching on too often when theres just no need.
Anxiety can be thought of as the workings of a strong healthy brain thats being a little overprotective. Its not crazy and its not troubled. Its overprotective. Like anything overprotective, anxiety can be intrusive, confusing and exhausting. For some people, there may be no outward clues that they are anxious at all. Their symptoms will be managed beautifully and will have minimal, if any, intrusion into their lives. For others, anxiety can be debilitating.
The stats on anxiety are staggering. Anxiety is so common, that if you arent experiencing it yourself, its very likely that someone you care about is. Bupa has created an infographic that illustrates some of the statistics. Find it in the Blue Room here: Feeling Anxious? Youre Not Alone.
Here are some subtle signs to watch out for. If you see them happening, dont make a big deal of things. For the person youre with, they would have been likely living with it for a while. Just be there and know that you dont need to fix anything.
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The Effective Habit: You Allow For And Tolerate Uncertainty The Anxiety Habit: Uncertainty Is Intolerable: You Must Make Sure Of Everything
In some way, almost all forms of anxiety stem from fear of uncertainty. People who have an anxiety problem are intolerant of uncertainty. They feel like they MUST know things and be in control of every situation. But this is never possiblelife always involves some uncertainty.
People who dont have an anxiety problem know this and accept it. When they are not sure what is going to happen, they dont go to excessive lengths to try and figure it out. They dont spend much time mentally analyzing situations or preparing and planning for every possible outcome.
They dont try to answer questions about the future that cant possibly be answered. Sure, everyone has to spend some time planning for the future, but they keep it to a minimum. Their attention is more focused on what is happening in the present moment instead of what might happen in the future.
When they are unsure about something, they allow themselves to move on with their day even if they cant resolve it. They let themselves not know things.
Not All Anxiety Is A Disorder
Everyone experiences anxiety and fear at times these are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational anxiety and worries that become ongoing and distressing, and that interfere with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no obvious or logical reason for the way the person feels. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the sufferer.
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Why Am I Anxious For No Reason
Anxiety is an emotion which is characterised by feelings of worry, fear, and tension. For some, anxiety can also be so severe that they cause panic attacks and extreme physical symptoms such as chest pain.
Anxiety is often caused by a trigger, which is an event, emotion, or thought which provokes an anxious response. Many people are not aware of their triggers and believe they have become anxious for no reason.
Anxiety has evolved as an alarm bell to move us into life-saving action. The limbic parts of our brains, which are some of the most ancient structures deep inside the brain, help us react to dangers in the environment.
The limbic system helps to activate the sympathetic nervous system which helps to make the body and mind react quickly when we are in perceived danger – we can choose to fight, flight, or freeze.
In the modern world, we encounter conflicts that arenât life-threatening but our nervous system will still react as if there is actual danger, so we can react to a variety of stimuli with the fight, flight, or freeze response.
Electronics Offer An Unhealthy Escape
Constant access to digital devices lets kids escape uncomfortable emotions like boredom, loneliness, or sadness by immersing themselves in games when they are in the car or by chatting on social media when they are sent to their rooms.
And now we’re seeing what happens when an entire generation has spent their childhoods avoiding discomfort. Their electronics replaced opportunities to develop mental strength, and they didn’t gain the coping skills they need to handle everyday challenges.
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How To Stop This Pattern
What is it about this persons behaviour that makes you feel anxious? Are they unpredictable? Dominating? Disrespectful? By identifying the specific behaviour which leaves you feeling anxious, youre going to equip yourself with the knowledge of how you can change it.
2. Approach the situation directly and assertively
Being assertive means being open and honest and unafraid to ask for what you need. Its a vital communication skill which involves finding the middle ground between being passive and aggressive being able to express your thoughts and feelings, whilst also not violating the rights of others. If you believe this person is disrespecting you, remind yourself that you have a right to be treated with respect, and that your needs are just as important as theirs.
3. Use I statements
The best way to practice assertiveness is by using I statements which help you express your needs without coming across as too confrontational or blaming. An example might be,
It makes me feel anxious when you threaten our friendship every time we have a disagreement.
This is where you calmly repeat yourself over and over again, until the other person listens to what youre saying.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:
Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.
- Inability to relax
- Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
- Nausea, chest pain or pressure
- Feeling a “lump in the throat”
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
- Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
- Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
- Thoughts of death
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Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented
You cant prevent anxiety disorders. But you can take steps to control or reduce your symptoms:
- Check out medications: Talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies. Some of these contain chemicals that may make anxiety symptoms worse.
- Limit caffeine: Stop or limit how much caffeine you consume, including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
- Live a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Seek help: Get counseling and support if you experienced a traumatic or disturbing event. Doing so can help prevent anxiety and other unpleasant feelings from disrupting your life.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety becomes a disorder when its irrational, excessive and when it interferes with a persons ability to function in daily life. Anxiety disorders include:
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Social phobias fear of social situations
- Specific phobias for example a fear of open spaces or enclosed spaces
- Panic disorders frequent and debilitating panic attacks.
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What Can I Do To Stop My Anxious Feelings
While we may feel inclined to want to stop all feelings of anxiety, it is important to remember that some anxiety is normal and helpful for certain situations.
Trying to stop anxious feelings is a form of resistance and can in fact make anxiety stronger. This relates to ironic processing theory which is used to explain why it is so hard to decrease unwanted thoughts.
The theory states that when we try not to think of something, such as being anxious, this will only lead to thinking more about being anxious, which leads to more anxiety.
When we try not to think of something, one part of our mind does avoid the thought, but another part âchecks inâ every so often to make sure the thought is not coming up â therefore, ironically, bringing it to mind.
If your only strategy is to distract yourself from the anxiety or to avoid anything that may cause it, you are likely to always be afraid of it and this can contribute to the vicious cycle of anxiety. Instead, you could do some of the following to ease some of your anxiety:
Preventing A Further Attack
It may help to:
- read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy ask your GP to recommend one
- try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
- learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
- do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
- avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse
For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.
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Social Anxiety Disorder In Children
Young children usually dont know that they are experiencing anxiety. They just know that they have stomach aches, headaches or other physical symptoms of anxiety. Children also know that they just dont want to do certain activities. So children might express their anxiety by complaining about physical discomfort, avoiding social activities, refusing to go to school or acting out.
Different Types Of Anxiety Have Different Triggers
Every type of anxiety is different. For example, the triggers of obsessive-compulsive disorder may be unwanted thoughts or environmental challenges. The triggers of panic disorder may be physical sensations or a passing fear. The triggers of PTSD may be loud noises. Each type of anxiety may have different triggers, just as each individual may find that their triggers are unique.
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What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder
This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, much more than the typical anxiety that most people experience in their daily lives. People may have trembling, twitching, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, breathlessness or hot flashes.
Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder have panic attacks with feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During the attacks, individuals may feel like they can’t breathe, have lost control, are having a heart attack or even that they are dying. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, tingling or numbness, and a racing heartbeat. Some people will have one isolated attack, while others will develop a long term panic disorder either way, there is often high anxiety between attacks because there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur. Panic disorders often begin early in adulthood. Many people with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia . See more on Panic Attacks.
Phobias are irrational fears. Individuals with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but thinking about or facing the feared object or situation can bring on a panic attck or severe anxiety.
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The Subtle Signs Of Anxiety
The details. All of them. ASAP.
If you are someone who is more a go-with-the-flow type of person, an excessive need for details might seem confusing for you. For someone with anxiety, having as many details as soon as possible can be the greatest defence against anxiety sashaying in when its not welcome. And its never welcome. The details may help to cut down the what-ifs that feed anxiety before theyve had the chance to breathe. The need to clarify plans, or fill in or change some of the details isnt about needing to control anything, but about trying to stop anxiety controlling them.
People with anxiety often have wonderfully strong and vibrant minds and when theres a decision to be made, theyll tend to think of all the different angles. On the plus side, they may be the ones to think of things that nobody else saw coming. On the other hand, anxiety can make decision-making more difficult. The outward signs of this may be trouble deciding, planning, weighing up consequences and organising thoughts in a logical, rational way to get to a good decision. The capacity to make a good decision is there, but anxiety can send it offline.
Or fight. Anger, aggression, tantrums, irritability.
Anxiety isnt always about avoidance or escape. During anxiety, the alternative to flight is fight. This can look like aggression or anger, but underlying it might be anxiety and the need to feel safe.
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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Common Triggers For Anxiety
What triggers one person’s anxiety may not create the same response in someone else.
A break-up, concern about exams or work, or an argument with a friend can make you feel anxious, worried or scared.
Anxiety is an everyday feeling. But it can become a problem when there is no obvious reason for it. Or when anxious feelings persist for more than a couple of weeks.
Ways You Can Look After Yourself
- Talk about how youre feeling and what’s making you anxious. Just being heard and understood may make you feel better. You could open up to a friend or call Anxiety UKs helpline.
- Look after your physical health. Eating well, staying physically active, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol and getting enough sleep can also help you manage anxiety better.
- Breathing exercises can help: our page on panic attacks has some suggestions. Some people find practicing mindfulness useful, but be aware it isn’t recommended for social anxiety.
- Consider joining a peer support group. They offer a safe place to share your experiences and worries with other people who also have an anxiety disorder. Ask your GP about local groups or visit our page on peer support. Anxiety UK offers online support groups.
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