Anxiety

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“Anxiety's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far.”

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“The feeling of being trapped in your own mind”

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Anxiety is a one of the most common human emotions a person experiences.  It nearly occurs everyday in everybody's life.  It’s a needed human emotion that alerts the brain and/or body of a concern, problem or that something is wrong and it’s part of the fight-or-flight pathway during acute stress.  

 

Anxiety occurs at many different levels and degrees.  On one end of the spectrum, it ranges from simple anxiety of worrying about an upcoming exam, or a recent breakup to the other end of the spectrum of not being able to leave home or having anxiety about uncleanliness which may cause a person to wash their hands compulsively throughout the day.

 

With anxiety there are associated symptoms.  The symptoms are numerous and vary differently from person to person.  A person with normal or severe anxiety may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

 

  • Body symptoms: 

  • Headaches

  • Choking

  • Fatigue

  • Lightheadedness

  • Diarrhea

  • IBS

  • Trembling and shaking

  • Numbness

  • Racing heart

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Blurred vision

  • Tingling

  • Sweating

  • Chills or heat sensations

  • Pain symptoms: 

  • Back, 

  • Chest

  • Muscle

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dissociation

  • Derealization

  • Depersonalization

  • Repetitive behaviors:

  • Hand washing

  • Ordering

  • Checking

  • Praying

  • Counting

  • Nail biting

  • Lip/cheek biting

  • Repeating words

  • Poor concentration

  • Picking skin

  • Feeling on edge

  • Feeling of impending doom

  • Excessive worry

  • Hoarding

  • Depression

  • Changes in weight or appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Nightmares

  • Hair pulling

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Moodiness

  • Avoidance of social situations

  • Fear of: 

  • Dying

  • Public places

  • Losing control

  • “Going crazy”

  • Leaving home

  • Social situations

  • Humiliation

  • Being alone

  • Contamination 

 

With normal worry and anxiety a person recovers quickly and moves on after a thought or episode of anxiety.  However, if the anxiety persists and becomes uncontrollable and interferes with a persons thoughts and ability to function then an anxiety disorder may exist.  

 

With severe anxiety, a person feels trapped, like a prisoner in their own mind.  Unlike normal anxiety, severe anxiety torments and transforms into uncontrollable and unremitting distressful thoughts.  The anxiety can turn into vicious cycles of panic, fear, stress, worry and can lead to impairments in a persons’ life.  

 

If left untreated the anxiety may lead to a loss of control and the inability to manage the symptoms on their own.  Without professional help, undesired consequences may occur and problems may develop with a persons’ employment, social life, mood and physical health.

 

Anxiety is not caused by personal weaknesses, character flaws, or from poor family upbringing.  The cause is related to many different factors such as:

 

  • Genetic inheritance from parents

  • Past trauma

  • Environmental stress

  • Imbalance of brain pathways and natural occurring chemicals

 

The treatment for severe anxiety includes medications, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation therapies, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, diet changes and lifestyle changes.

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References:

 

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association. 2013

 

http://www.nami.org/

1-800-950-NAMI (6264) —The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) supports people with mental illness and their families and friends.

 

www.mentalhealthamerica.net 

Mental Health America, formerly the National Mental Health Association, is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization for mental health and mental illness.

 

www.psychiatry.org 

The American Psychiatric Association’s online resource for anyone seeking support or facts about mental illnesses.

 

www.nimh.nih.gov 

1-866-615-6464 (toll free) —The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers information on mental illnesses and treatment options. 

 

http://www.adaa.org

Non-profit organization provides information and support for patients and health professionals, with details of conditions, and lists of resources