What is anxiety?
The definition of anxiety refers to it as a set of feelings and physiological states. Anxiety is a state of nervousness, worry, and fear that we all experience. It is associated with a variety of physical, emotional, and cognitive responses. What does anxiety feel like?
Physically, you might start to sweat. Your pupils might dilate and your heart rate/breathing rate will rise. You also might feel more alert and even jumpy. You might feel nauseous, lose your appetite, and feel like you can’t sleep. Emotionally, you will experience nervousness, fear, or worry. In your mind, you might think thoughts associated with the negative consequences of something, like an exam or an important presentation. You might play out different scenarios in your head and wonder whether it’s going to be fine or not.
Most people are quite familiar with anxiety, and many people experience it very frequently. An important question to consider is: what causes anxiety?
What causes anxiety is an important question because you might wonder whether this emotion is normal and what is the purpose of it. Anxiety is actually a normal response to situations that are challenging or stressful. In small doses, anxiety makes you feel more alert and prepares your mind and body to cope with the challenge or problem.
It also motivates you to make an effort. For example, if you are worried about an important test, you might study more if you feel anxious about the results. Anxiety is the body’s response to a challenging or potentially dangerous situation.
What causes anxiety to become excessive or disruptive? Genetics seem to play a role, as do environmental factors, like traumatic experiences. What else causes anxiety? Particular ways of thinking reinforced over time can also lead to anxiety become excessive.
What are the symptoms of an anxiety attack?
While some anxiety disorders manifest as excessive or frequent anxiety, other disorders manifest with anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks or panic attacks are states of intense anxiety that are highly unpleasant and can appear without an apparent trigger. The symptoms of an anxiety attack appear suddenly and escalate in a short period of time, like 10 minutes. The anxiety attack later subsides. So, what are the symptoms of an anxiety attack?
- Heart racing
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy
- Chest or abdominal pains
The symptoms of an anxiety attack make it likely that the person might think like they’re dying or having a heart attack. However, an anxiety attack is not usually dangerous and tends to subside after some time passes. Frequent anxiety attacks may indicate the presence of a panic disorder, however, most people might experience an anxiety attack occasionally, especially if they are under a lot of stress.
What is social anxiety?
Some people experience a specific type of anxiety that is associated with social situations, like going to a party, speaking in public, or talking to a stranger. This anxiety might become disruptive and prevent them from socializing or having friends and good relationships. The type of anxiety linked to social situations is social anxiety.
When talking about what is social anxiety, it becomes important to distinguish, For example, something like introversion or a lack of interest in social interaction is not anxiety. Introverted people tend to socialize less out of a personal preference. People with social anxiety often wish they could socialize more effectively. But they find their social lives restricted by this type of anxiety.
What are anxiety disorders?
There are several disorders with anxiety as a central feature. In the case of anxiety disorders, this anxiety becomes excessive, disproportionate, and far too intense. There are different anxiety disorders.
There is social anxiety disorder that presents an impaired functioning due to social anxiety. People with this disorder might find their lives limited or experience severe distress due to social anxiety and difficulties in various social situations.
Another anxiety disorder is panic disorder. Panic disorder is the presence of recurring anxiety attacks. Such attacks might occur in specific situations or seemingly without a clear cause. It can make the person unwilling to go outside or fearful of having an anxiety attack while they are somewhere, leading to a lot of avoidance behaviors.
Another disorder is generalized anxiety disorder. The presence of intense and disproportionate anxiety throughout the day in relation to many different situations occurs. The person appears to experience a high level of anxiety in relation to the past and future and in relation to a variety of common situations.
Some disorders might also be associated with strong feelings of anxiety. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder is linked with a high level of anxiety, especially in relation to situations that are reminiscent of the trauma.
People with anxiety disorders that are not in treatment might use unhealthy things to cope. For example, drink a lot of alcohol to relax and feel more uninhibited in social situations. While people might feel bad, they might not know what causes anxiety to be so difficult. Further, they may not even recognize the states as anxiety. Therefore, they don’t seek treatment.
How to control anxiety
A question many people ask is how to control anxiety. This is not easy to answer because it depends on the person’s circumstances and the severity of the anxiety among other factors. However, it’s possible to suggest some ways that can help control anxiety.
First of all, if anxiety is out of control and is severely disruptive or distressing, the best way in relation to how to control it is to seek professional help. A counselor or therapist can provide many ways to relax and change your way of thinking. A medical professional can offer anti-anxiety medication too.
However, if you feel your anxiety is not that severe, you might consider other solutions. You can try meditation and relaxation techniques that are meant to address the physical and mental aspects of anxiety. By clearing your mind and relaxing your body, you can significantly improve your emotional state. Learning to breathe and breathing techniques can reduce physical manifestations of anxiety and help you relax.
There are cognitive techniques meant to reduce anxiety, for example, re-framing a negative situation in a positive light. You might also identify irrational thought patterns that could be contributing to your anxiety, for example, feeling like every problem will have catastrophic consequences.
We have talked about what anxiety is, what causes anxiety, how to control anxiety, and other associated topics. Anxiety can be the normal response of the body or a disruptive emotional state that appears too frequently or with too much intensity.
Anxiety is a problem for many people and can even be associated with a disorder. However, there are ways to cope with anxiety and reduce it. What causes anxiety varies somewhat but in general it is often a combination of environmental and genetic factors. You can try some things for yourself or seek professional help to reduce anxiety and find out what causes anxiety to become so severe in your case.