Anxiety is a healthy and normal emotion. Indeed, everyone experiences some anxiety when faced with issues at work, making an important decision, or prior to taking a test. However, when the level of anxiety hits disproportionate levels, it could turn into an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is classified into a group of mental health problems that cause excess apprehension and fear. It changes how a person behaves and processes emotions. Indeed, it also causes physical symptoms. If you have mild anxiety, the symptoms might be unsettling and vague. However, severe cases of anxiety can cause fatigue and affect your daily activities.
This post takes a closer look at anxiety to establish what it is, the main symptoms and causes. In the end, we will also outline the natural methods that you can use to overcome the problem of anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry. Some forms of common anxieties are normal and justified. For example, if you are faced with a potentially harmful situation, the feeling of anxiety is crucial for survival. The body causes a spike of adrenaline that triggers anxious reactions – fight-or-flight response.
The severity or duration of anxiety at times increases to levels that are out of proportion to the main trigger. At this point, the body starts showing physical symptoms such as nausea and elevated blood pressure. The symptoms imply that you are no longer suffering from simple anxiety, but an anxiety disorder. It is also prudent to appreciate that anxiety falls in different categories.
Here are the main types of anxieties according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V). Note that in the previous versions of DSM, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive-Compulsory Disorder were classified as anxiety. However, they are no longer considered part of anxiety. The main groups of anxiety include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: This is an anxiety disorder that results from prolonged worries about non-specific situations, events or objects. It is the commonest form of anxiety. In many cases, the affected people are not capable of telling the cause of anxiety.
- Panic disorder: This is a sudden attack of intense fear. The attacks result in shaking, nausea, confusion, breathing difficulties, and dizziness. Though panic disorder tends to occur and peak in about 10 minutes, the anxiety can last for hours.
The disorder mainly happens because of prolonged stress or a very frightening experience. Often, people experiencing panic disorders mistake it with a life-threatening illness. This could result in drastic behavioral changes to prevent future attacks.
- Social Phobia: This form of anxiety, also referred to as social anxiety disorder, is fear of getting negative judgments from others in various social situations. The anxiety includes a wide range of feelings including fear of intimacy, stage fright, and fear around humiliation/ rejection.
- Agoraphobia: This is a form of fear of situations, events or places that a person thinks might entrap him/her. Though agoraphobia is often misunderstood as fear of open spaces, it is more complicated. A person suffering from agoraphobia might have fear of using elevators, leaving home, or even using a plane.
- Selective mutism: This is a type of anxiety that makes a person find it difficult to speak in some contexts or places even though they have good communication capability. The anxiety is common in children. Mental health experts consider this anxiety as an extreme type of agoraphobia.
- Separation anxiety disorder: This is a form of fear that arises when a person is separated from a place or person that provide safety or security.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can be very debilitating especially if you fail to recognize the problem early enough. Therefore, the first step to overcoming anxiety is identifying the symptoms. The following are the symptoms that indicate you might be suffering from anxiety:
The commonest sign used to point an anxiety disorder is excessive worrying. If your worry occurs on most days and persists for a couple of months because you find it hard to control, you are already suffering from an anxiety disorder. Besides, this worry has to be severe and intrusive to the extent of compromising your ability to do regular tasks.
When you are anxious, the body’s sympathetic nervous system swings into action. This signals an array of effects on the body such as sweaty palms, higher pulse rate, dry mouth, and shaky hands. Though the response can be helpful in the case of a real threat, it can be devastating if the fear is simply in the mind.
This is another recurrent symptom of anxiety, especially with teenagers. Although restlessness cannot be solely used to pinpoint anxiety disorder, it can be one of the important symptoms especially when the occurrence is frequent.
Many people with anxiety report difficulty trying to concentrate. Anxiety interrupts working memory which makes it difficult to hold short-term information. This is one of the reasons why people suffering from anxiety report deteriorating performance.
If you have fears about things such as heights and enclosed spaces, it could be a sign of anxiety. The fear can at times be so intense that it interferes with your ability to work normally. Some common phobia includes fear of animals (animal phobia), fear of natural environments (natural environment phobias), and fear of situations (situational phobias).
Fatigue is another common symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Though the symptom can be surprising, it is associated with arousal and hyperactivity. In some cases, fatigue can be chronic or follow an anxiety attack.
Other symptoms of anxiety include trembling, feeling of detachment, nausea, chest pain, sleep problems, and irritability.
Causes of anxiety?
Researchers are unclear about what brings anxiety. Like other types of mental problems, anxiety is caused by many things that combine changes in an individuals’ brain to environmental stress. Here is a list of things that are believed to cause anxiety:
- Stress in the workplace.
- Low blood sugar.
- Stress at school.
- Strains in personal relationship such as marriage.
- Financial stress.
- Emotional trauma.
- Medical illness trauma.
- Side effects of medication.
- Withdrawal from illicit drugs.
- Poor supply of oxygen in cases such as high altitude sickness.
How to Overcome Anxiety
When you are diagnosed with anxiety, there are several therapies that you can try for treatment. Here are the recommended methods of addressing anxiety naturally:
Face Your Fear
The first line of addressing anxiety is facing it. If you stay away from situations that are scaring, you will miss the chance to work out methods of managing the fears. When you face problems, the chances are that you will be able to address them. For example, if your anxiety is being caused by a lot of tasks at your workplace, you can face it through being organized or delegating.
Exercise is recommended as a way of burning anxious energy. When you engage in exercise, the mind shifts focus to the activity while energy is directed at achieving the workout goals. Exercise can be particularly helpful for people suffering from generalized anxiety disorders.
Meditation can assist you to slow down thoughts and in managing stress. It helps people to relax their minds and unconsciously relax tense muscles. Some of the common meditation styles recommended for addressing anxiety include mindfulness and yoga.
One of the primary causes of anxiety is low blood sugar. The low levels mainly result from the use of processed foods that spike the release of insulin. Therefore, you should start eating healthy foods that release carbs slowly such as nuts, whole grain meals, and green veggies. You should also avoid taking too much coffee and tea because they contain caffeine that can raise anxiety levels.
If you want to make anxiety more manageable, consider getting down and expressing it through writing. Writing down the problem implies that you appreciate the problem and will start addressing it. After writing the problem, go ahead and look for the right solution such as relaxation and meditation.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils to help promote your well-being. You can either inhale the oils directly or add them to a warm bath. Aromatherapy can help to address anxiety by allowing you to relax, getting good sleep, and boosting your mood. Some common essential oils used to relieve anxiety include lavender, bergamot, clary sage, and grapefruit.
The Final Take
Though some anxiety is normal and healthy for your body, you need to get the right method of addressing it if it becomes persistent. You should start by understanding the symptoms of anxiety and the causes. Then, consider using natural remedies outlined above to address the problem.
To prevent anxiety from recurring, it is also prudent to relook at your lifestyle. You should particularly work on removing the causative factors. For example, if the anxiety is caused by a strained relationship, make sure to address it.