Remember the television show back in the 60’s “The Land of the Lost.” The people were happily going about their day when a huge dinosaur would pop up and they would essentially run for their lives and hide. This is what our bodies were made to do in situations of extreme danger. It is called the “fight or flight” response and it is perfectly natural. Anxiety is when the “fight or flight” response goes off for seemingly no reason at all. You may be driving down the road listening to relaxing music on the radio, when suddenly you have to stop your car and get out quickly. For no apparent reason. Over 40 million American’s suffer from anxiety, so you’re not alone!
Anxiety is a very uncomfortable thing. Our insides get all knotted up and we feel like we need to run away. You may think you are going to die or that something very bad is about to happen. It can be very unsettling, so this article will explain all about anxiety and a few things you can do to bring it under control.
Anxiety is a normal part of our physiological makeup. Some amount of anxiety is actually good for us. It helps us perceive dangerous situations and get to safety, it helps us push through difficult and stressful tasks, and keeps us on our toes.
When anxiety becomes an issue is when it becomes chronic and uncontrolled. When we constantly worry or obsess over things that are not real issues. When fear takes over us and we become paralyzed by it. Unhealthy anxiety is when you constantly want to run, stop what you are doing and have constant fear of the unknown.
A few of the signs of unhealthy anxiety are:
Getting upset over little things
Fear of dying
Lack of concentration
Numerous symptoms can be attributed to anxiety. Here are a few of the most common symptoms that most people experience when having an anxiety attack:
The feeling of being powerless
Breaking out in sweats
Feelings of detachment
Inability to concentrate, thoughts of worry take over
Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety can be caused by a physical condition and manifest itself as a symptom of that condition, emotional condition, direct result of trauma, or side-effects of a drug. When an anxiety attack is first experienced, it is important to get a full medical evaluation to determine the cause or rule out medical conditions that may need treatment.
Medical conditions that may have anxiety as a symptom include; heart disease, anemia, asthma, electrolyte or hormonal imbalances, drug overdose, drug withdrawal, or infections. These should be treated right away and usually when the physical condition is treated the anxiety goes away.
Other causes of anxiety include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder This is due to constant worry and fixation on a certain problem most of the time. This disorder can make it hard to perform normal functions on a daily basis such as sleeping, eating, concentrating, and going to work or school. Many people go on to develop agoraphobia if left untreated, which is a fear of public places. These people may not even leave their homes due to excessive anxiety that something might happen if they leave the house.
Panic Disorder The sufferer experiences panic attacks that are sometimes sudden and come on for no apparent reason. This is characterized by heart palpitations, trouble breathing, lightheadedness, nausea, and feelings of doom. Overuse of caffeine, street stimulants, or a thyroid disorder may also cause these feelings.
OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Certain people experience heightened anxiety when things are not in order or unclean. They may worry excessively about getting sick, losing things that are not organized, or feel anxiety about touching things.
Separation Anxiety Small children may experience anxiety when they are separated from a parent or caregiver.
Stress Anxiety can also be caused by excess stress in certain situations including school, work, relationships, money, emotional trauma, and illnesses.
There are a few risk factors for anxiety that increase the chances someone may develop the condition.
Genetic Predisposition Anxiety tends to run in families.
Gender Women are two times more likely to develop anxiety.
Age Anxiety disorders often start in either childhood or teenage years.
History of Trauma Abuse, accidents or PTSD.
Medical Issues Heart disease, apnea, headaches, mitral valve prolapse, chronic fatigue, electrolyte issues or thyroid disease.
Drug Use Drug overdose or withdrawals.
How is Anxiety Diagnosed?
If a medical examination and blood tests do not show a physical cause for anxiety, the doctors will move toward a mental examination. The criteria for diagnosing anxiety includes:
If you have had extremely high anxiety and worry every day for six months
If you can’t control worry
Three of the following symptoms in adults; fatigue, inability to concentrate, restlessness, sleep issues, and muscle tension. Children only need one.
Anxiety that interferes with daily living
Anxiety that is not a symptom of a medical condition
Treatment is aimed at relieving anxiety and increasing coping skills. This is done with counseling, behavioral therapy, and/or medications. It depends on the level of functioning, the cause, and any underlying conditions which need to be treated.
This consists of talking with a therapist about life issues and learning coping skills to deal with them effectively. You will learn CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, techniques to help you get through actual anxiety attacks.
If you have severe anxiety, you may be sent to a medical doctor or psychiatrist for medication to help. Medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or certain blood pressure medications that help calm the nervous system.
Home Remedies & Lifestyle Changes
If you have mild anxiety and your doctor gives the okay, you may be able to manage anxiety with home remedies and lifestyle changes. These include:
Facing your Fears When worries or anxiety comes on, face it and work out any issues that arise.
Realize There are Things you Cannot Change Learn to leave the past in the past and move forward.
Take Care of Yourself Eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and cut caffeine and/or cigarettes.
Get a Massage Go for a massage to help relieve tension.
Start a Hobby Do something to occupy your mind that is fun and enjoyable.
Journal your Symptoms Journal anxiety symptoms and what you were doing so you can learn what your triggers are.
Drink Chamomile Tea Chamomile is a safe and natural sedative that can calm anxiety.
Valerian Root Valerian root also has sedative properties and can help induce good sleep.
When things come up in life, talk about them to someone right away. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, or street drugs that can cause anxiety as a side-effect. Exercise more. When you suffer from anxiety, your body releases chemicals that cause the attack. Exercising helps your body burn off these chemicals. Learn how to relieve stress with breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga.
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