Let’s start from here. Do you know what anxiety is?
Anxiety is regularly experienced stress that shows as fear, panic, tension, sleeplessness, irritability. What differs anxiety from ordinary forms of tension and apprehensiveness, is the fact that a great deal of it is irrational and also unpredictable. It is normal and logical to lose your sleep and appetite over a life difficulty (job loss, breakup, divorce, illness, etc), but anxiety is not experienced as a reaction to this type of challenging situations.
Anxiety is a chronic form of fearing things you can’t quite explain – regardless of whether they are really threatening or not. Sometimes the tension builds up uncontrollably and disproportionately to what is provoking it.
Fear is a natural and useful human reaction to danger: it helps us prepare for an attack and maintain our safety. We either run away from pain and danger or we fight back. It’s called the fight-flight response. The problem with anxiety is that we experience fear on a regular basis, very often in the absence of a real danger and without being able to quite explain what we are so afraid of.
The rush of adrenaline causes our heart rate to go up, our hands start sweating and we feel dizzy. That is how our hormones prepare our body for an escape or a battle – with the single task “Survive”. In the case of anxiety, all of these symptoms are present, but what is absent is a real, definable threat – there is just the feeling of being ready for war even when an actual enemy is missing from the picture.
There are 5 types of anxiety disorders:
This is a condition that makes a person feel anxious on a regular basis – often without a clear reason. People that experience anxiety on an everyday basis – regardless of the presence and severity of problems in their lives – are prone to catastrophic thinking, rumination, and excessive worrying.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a form of anxiety disorder marked by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, images (for example thoughts or images of death and violence) and compulsive behaviors (obsessive hand-washing, checking, cleaning, counting, screening). These repetitive behaviors often serve to harbor obsessive thoughts and relieve the emotional distress associated with them.
Nevertheless, these rituals can give only momentary relief to a person with OCD – artificially suppressing the real reasons for their anxiety which can be found in feeling of a forgotten or denied traumatic episode.
Panic disorder is the regular experience of panic attacks: episodes of intense and irrational fear that have very strong physical symptoms – shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, the feeling that one is actually about to die or have a serious break down very soon. Panic attacks usually come unpredictably (often even during holidays or other relaxing moments).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is an anxiety disorder that is marked by intrusive images of a traumatic event that a person has already been through. In PTSD there are recurring nightmares, intense memories about the trauma, panic that it is happening again, and sometimes even delusions. It is caused by going through traumatic events like abuse, natural disasters, death of a loved one, crashes, war.
This form of anxiety is marked by panic in social situations. It may be experienced only in specific situations when a performance is required (like when a person has to speak in front of an audience or sit through a job interview, etc) or it may appear every time a person leaves their home and meets people.
Here are 12 signs that tell you may be suffering from anxiety:
This is a classical sign of anxiety. It’s characterized by losing your balance over everyday things (that are usually outside of one’s control, anyway) that might certainly not go wrong but you fear that they would. Rumination is another form of worrying – playing the same stressing event in your head in a futile attempt to resolve the negative emotions it evokes.
If something is bugging you out and you are losing your sleep over it, be sure that anxiety is getting the best of you – in this very unsettling way that is detrimental both to your psychological and physical health. It might be wise to start by checking your serotonin and dopamine levels since a serotonin deficiency may be depriving your nervous system from the ability to relax and let you doze off.
Bouts of fear
From crossing the street to ringing your loved ones 10 times to make sure they’re safe and sound, to feeling afraid to sleep with the lights on – all of these are forms of regularly experienced excessive fear.
It is normal to have bad dreams every once in awhile, yet if tormenting images and frightening scenarios appear in your sleep regularly, this might be a sign of anxiety that has not been addressed or tackled. Very specific to anxiety are these nightmares which include natural disasters, falling from heights, being chased, losing loved ones, etc.
A common sign of anxiety is chronic indigestion. The condition is marked by cramping and pain in the abdomen, gas, constipation or diarrhea, irritation and bloating.
The fact that you experienced a panic attack once or twice does not prove you have a panic disorder. Yet, if these panic attacks become a recurring experience, chances are you might be under the spell of too much anxiety left untreated.
Trying to be perfect
Being meticulous and having high standards is a good thing (generally speaking). Nevertheless, perfectionism also has a dark and unproductive side: when you are afraid that making any kind of a mistake is going to ruin your image in the eyes of others or bring a punishment upon you.
Anything that a person does because they’re driven to do it because they can’t actually go without it, may be considered compulsive behavior. Among the most common compulsive actions are washing your hands obsessively, checking things several times in a row, binge eating, binge drinking, binge smoking, texting or calling people until they respond or pick up.
Lack of confidence
Low self-esteem is usually the reason behind weak confidence – and also the culprit for the feeling of failure, for the suspicion that others don’t respect you enough, for the impossibility to find love because you actually feel unworthy of it. If these fears and thoughts are present in the way you feel about yourself, it maybe time to learn how to trust more in yourself and get rid of the anxiety that you are not enough and others will reject you, use you, or leave you.