What is anxiety?
“The thing about an anxiety disorder is that you know it is stupid. You know with all your heart that it wasn’t a big deal and that it should roll off of you. But that is where the disorder kicks in. Suddenly the small things are very big, and it keeps growing in your head, flooding your chest, and trying to escape from under your skin. You know with all of your heart that you’re ridiculous and you hate every minute of it.” Unknown
It’s OK to be anxious when facing a difficult situation, such as a job interview, an important exam, or a first date.
But if your problems and fears are stopping you from having the life you’d like to, you could be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Many different types of anxiety disorders exist.
Anxiety disorders are the biggest group of mental disorders in most western societies and are a leading cause of disability.
Above all, we should explain that the most important features of anxiety disorders are excessive and enduring fear, anxiety or avoidance of perceived threats, and panic attacks. Although the neurobiology of individual anxiety disorders is mostly unknown, we have made some generalizations for most diseases, such as alterations in the limbic system, dysfunction of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and genetic factors. Also, among the risk factors for anxiety disorders is a family history of anxiety, although disorder-specific risk factors have also been identified.
Below are some of the most common anxiety disorders:
Generalised anxiety disorder
That is excessive, uncontrollable worry about an all sort of ordinary situations like health, work or finances.
It makes people avoid social or performance situations because they could be embarrassed or rejected.
It often involves panic attacks, intense experiences of irrational fear, shortness of breath, dizziness and many other physical symptoms.
Agoraphobia is a panic disorder that makes us avoid certain situations due to fear of having a panic attack.
As well as other types of this condition that do not affect that many people but are still severe.
Another important fact is that no matter what type of anxiety disorder you have, this condition is debilitating.
It feels like a permanent heaviness in your brains; like if something is wrong, even though you don’t know what that something is.
It feels like pain your head, sharp and overwhelming, taking away any thought. It resembles a tight knot that you can’t untwist.
“Anxiety makes you sit there and overthink every single thing. At times it makes you think people in your life are leaving you. You begin to feel abandoned. And not worth anything because the most important people in your life don’t want you.” says Elizabeth Norton. She has been suffering from anxiety for many years.
Here is what else she says:
“Anxiety is overthinking and analyzing every little, unnecessary detail. Consequently, there are situations when it could make you feel totally distracted. It seems is as if your thoughts are running in a thousand different directions, hitting each other along the way. Other times, you feel indifferent, as if you’ve been overwhelmed by apathy and you are no longer interested in anything. Due to that your mind feels empty, and you could be dissociated and have the feeling of leaving your body.”
Anxiety is worrying over problems that do not exist.
It is the voice in your head that tells you that there is something which is not OK with you. And you are not like the others. This condition could lead to insomnia. You might be staying awake in your bed worrying for no apparent reason. It’s like a bad dream that makes you toss and turn in the bed. And even though you try you cannot wake up and feel as if you’re stuck in it. You are exhausted because your mind is awake and racing. And instead of sleeping soundly you keep going through the events of your day. Overthinking all of them in details.
And that’s not all.
Sometimes anxiety makes you feel afraid of having close contacts with people, of meeting them face to face, of looking them in the eyes.
Below is the story of Anthony. He claims to be suffering from anxiety every time he has an eye contact with another person:
“I certainly suffer from anxiety. In fact, in my case, that is the terrible feeling which I get every time I have an eye contact with someone. I become paranoid about the fact that people will mock or laugh at me for some reason. It’s sad but I always feel anxious when a person holds eye contact. And feel relieved if others don’t have good eye contact with me. I feel stuck in a vicious cycle that I can’t escape from. And I keep trying to convince myself it is all an illusion. It’s probably only in my head. But it does not work. It never does and everything happens again and again and again…”
Anxiety makes you keep negative feelings that stem from false situations, which however seem so real. And as Anthony says although you know these are imaginary situations you just cannot get over them. Or maybe you don’t know how?
One of the ways to beat anxiety is to stop listening to it as this will not make it go away. You need to resist it. Fight it. Don’t let it win.
Think about all the fears and false concerns. The simple fact that you are listening to it could show you that you aren’t it. Let it rage and scream. So, let it reveal all the imaginary fears to you. That could help you realize that all of them live in your mind only. And do not exist in the real world. And it is up to you to understand this and beat the disorder.
I Heart Intelligence advises all of the readers who think that anxiety is preventing them from leading a normal life to seek professional treatment.