What Is Anxiety?
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million (18.1%) US adults suffer from anxiety disorders, but despite it being a treatable condition, 63.1% have gone untreated. Every one of us experiences anxiety in our life, and it occurs more than once during many unwanted or stressful situations. The first day of school, conducting a job interview, or public speaking can make us feel nervous and anxious. But in extreme cases, feelings of anxiety can last longer than six months, affecting our daily lives. If your symptoms persist for this length of time, you may have an anxiety disorder. There are several types of anxiety disorders, with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders being among them.
What Causes Anxiety?
Numerous factors can lead to feelings of anxiety, including genetic and environmental factors, as well as experiencing a traumatic or stressful situation such as the death of a loved one or losing a job. Long-term stress and certain medical conditions cause chemical imbalances in the body which may lead to both depression and anxiety disorders. Environmental factors such as bullying at school or the workplace, workload stress, financial problems, lack of confidence, and family break-ups are added risk factors for anxiety disorders. If you have family members who have suffered from anxiety, it increases your chances of inheriting this condition.
What Are the Effects?
Our initial response to anxiety normally includes an increase in both our heart and breathing rate. Blood flow toward the responsive organs increases to prepare the body to react against a potentially stressful situation. If feelings of anxiety persist for an extended period, headaches and heart palpitations may result, as well as chest pain. It could also lead to poor blood circulation, negatively impacting the excretory and digestive systems. Loss of appetite, stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and nausea are common symptoms caused by anxiety disorders. Some researchers believe that anxiety also has a connection with the onset of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
During an anxiety attack our brain releases chemicals and hormones as it transitions into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline & stress relieving hormones are released, the heart rate increases, the lungs expand, and the body’s metabolism changes to cope with the situation. Anxiety can also have a negative impact on our immune system.
Sex and intimacy, a vital part of life, require a sense of freedom and safety. Anxiety can cause sexual hormone imbalances, creating barriers to intimacy.
The Impact of Anxiety
Social anxiety, also termed social phobia, can alter your normal life activities as well. According to the ADAA, 15 million adults in the US suffer from social anxiety disorder. The ADAA also states it is equally as common in women and men, and typically begins around age 13. Social anxiety occurs for several reasons, such as starting a new job, giving a presentation, facing a group of people, and talking to strangers. Most people suffering from social anxiety are aware of their condition, but they can’t control their reactions, and in extreme cases this has resulted in feelings of shame, loneliness, guilt, and depression.
How To Cope
Living with anxiety can be difficult, but there are measures you can take to make it more manageable, including the following:
- Seek counseling.
- Discuss it with supportive loved ones.
- Prayer / Meditation
- Vitamin Supplements *
- Daily exercise.
- Consume a healthy diet.
- Consult a physician.
There are numerous resources available to help you cope, so you don’t have to face anxiety alone.
“In peace [and with a tranquil heart] I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.” ~ Psalms 4:8 (AMP)
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