Do you remember the feeling you get before appearing in an exam or giving an interview? That feeling of nervousness makes you afraid a bit. Anxiety is no different than that. Anxiety is a non-medical term that is a sensation or feeling of fear of something bad about to happen. Basically feeling you get when you are worrying or fearing about something particular. It is associated with stress. Hence, it causes physical symptoms like muscle tension too.
You may experience anxiety when some important or difficult thing is going to happen like an exam or interview. Also, it can make an easy way when you have stress. But if anxiety is so normal to happen, then why is it considered to be a mental health issue? There is a difference between basic anxiety and anxiety disorder. When you be anxious constantly, you may start experiencing sensations without any reason. Even you may begin to face severe symptoms at small incidents.
What is normal anxiety?
We all feel anxious from time to time and it is very normal to feel so. Anxiety can be defined as a sense of uneasiness, fear, worry, stress, the nervousness about what is about to happen. Fear is a feeling that you experience during any threat or problem while anxiety is a feeling which is related to the expectation of threat, problem, danger in the coming future. This feeling of being anxious can be mild or intense, depending upon the person and the situation. Mild anxiety can give you a sense of uneasiness or nervousness while intense anxiety can make you experience fear, anger, or panic.
It’s a natural thing to feel anxious if something new, important or difficult is coming up. Being anxious when you have an exam, a big date, a huge class presentation, or competition is perfectly normal. Although these events causing natural anxiety never threaten a person’s safety, they can cause someone to feel “threatened” by potential embarrassment, worry about making a mistake, fitting in, stumbling over words, being accepted or rejected, or losing pride. It lasts only till that particular event or thing is not done. Physical sensations such as a pounding heart, sweaty hands, or a nervous stomach can be a cause of anxiety.
A bit of normal anxiety is actually helpful. It helps us in being alert, focused, and prepared to deal with handling the coming situation. It can push us towards doing our best. But at the same time, excessive anxiety can bound a person in a situation where he might feel overwhelmed, tongue-tied, or unable to do what he needs to do.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Now here comes the real issue. When small events start triggering your anxiety at a level that you feel things are getting out of control or when you feel anxious without any reason is where anxiety disorder stands. An anxiety attack takes place when there is something particular triggering the person. The majority of the times anxiety takes place due to some event or situation. Though, this is not the case always.
An anxiety attack majorly hits a person due to fear of something bad happening in a particular situation. This means there is a specific subject that is creating a sense of fear in that person. It tends to develop gradually over time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. There may be a sense that it can be over once that particular problem is solved. Even constant anxiety can worsen the situation and lead to panic attacks, which are severe and affect the patient a lot.
Types of anxiety disorders
There are different types of anxiety disorders that affect different sides of a person’s life. A person with social anxiety face problems regarding facing people.
With this common anxiety disorder, a person worries excessively about many things. Any person with this disorder may over worry about their health, career, school, family, or any other issue which doesn’t even require this much attention. They may think of the worst possibility for any situation or problem. Physical symptoms in people who have generalized anxiety are chest pain, headache, tiredness, tight muscles, stomachaches, or vomiting.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
For a person with OCD, anxiety comes in the form of obsession and compulsion. Obsession of thought or something to happen whereas compulsion to things that relieve their anxiety.
Intense fear of any particular thing or situation that is not actually dangerous is called as having phobias. People have phobias like phobia of heights, dogs, or flying in an aeroplane. Phobias usually cause people to avoid the things they are afraid of.
It is also known as social phobia. If intense anxiety triggers you while doing any social activity such as going to a party, speaking in front of others, etc, then you have social phobia In this, the person avoids social interactions as much as he can. An extreme form called selective mutism causes some kids and teens to be too fearful to talk at all in certain situations.
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Panic attacks have symptoms like anxiety attacks in a more intense form. A panic attack needs no triggering point to start. Though when a person is suffering from panic disorder, any small or big problematic situation or thing can trigger anxiety and that can easily lead to a panic attack. But even if the person is calm, he/she might get hit by a panic attack. A panic attack can happen without a warning and you can’t prevent it. A panic attack can occur even if the person feels calm, anxious, or even during sleep. In fact, according to the APA, the reaction is unrelated to the situation. A person might feel that he or she is going to die, faint, or losing control over themselves.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A very famous quote states “some incidents pass on, but leaves the marks behind”. This type of anxiety order results from any tragedy or mishappening that happened in the past that left an impact on a person’s mind. Even a single flashback can trigger anxiety. Any bad incident in childhood triggers a lot of people their whole lifetime. Hence, it is very common to feel bad or being anxious about remembering something that you had a bad experience with.
Anxiety attacks involve fastening heartbeat, fear, lightheadedness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and irrational thoughts.
The most common and starting symptoms include
- worry and apprehension
- sleep problems
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling pressure and hurried
What can you do to reduce anxiety
Treatment available for severe anxiety are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)– These therapies helps a person with anxiety disorder or any other mental health issue to take out whatever they have in their mind. It’s very important to know that what is going on in the head of a mental health patient. Hence, therapist makes the patient comfortable enough to talk. During therapies patients can actually get many answers to their doubts.
- Medications, such as some types of antidepressants- There are some antidepressant medications avaiable which can help in boosting up the happy harmone in a patient’s body. But one should consult a specialized doctor before taking any sort of medicines as they are very subjective when it comes to affecting health.
- Support groups for people with specific conditions- There are some special support groups for people with mental health. Here all the people having same issue or different gather and share it. There are many activites and events organized by such groups. This can give you a sense of belonging.