Worrying is a normal reaction to an imminent threat or a problem you may have. While worry is natural, short-term, and even beneficial at times, in the case of anxiety, the possibility of something going wrong overwhelms you. The feeling of what may happen or go wrong in the future becomes predominant. It takes control of your brain, flooding your system with chemicals and hormones that will help you overcome the problematic “situation” if it comes to be.
When your anxiety persists for a long time, the continuous influx of stress hormones and chemicals can lead to various physical symptoms. It may cause panic attacks and even lead to substance abuse as you try to cope with it. Keep reading to learn how to recognize anxiety, some surprising facts about anxiety, and simple ways to manage anxiety.
Recognizing Symptoms of Anxiety
Physical discomforts like stomach ache, nausea, and headache are often not due to illnesses but rather your emotions causing havoc. When you are nervous or anxious, the autonomic system (responsible for the fight-or-flight response) kicks in, and you experience physical symptoms.
Doctors can easily diagnose whether your complaints are due to a physical or mental issue. However, if you want to determine if anxiety is causing your physical symptoms, look out for the following signs:
• Trouble sleeping
• Rapid breathing
• Increased heart rate
• Feeling tense, nervous, or restless
• Trouble concentrating
• Only thinking about the cause of worry
• Avoiding things that trigger anxiety
• Trembling and sweating
• Feeling tired all the time
• Anxious about something bad happening
When a person has social anxiety, the symptoms will include:
• Social withdrawal
• Problems in relationships with family members and others
• Restricting oneself to the home
• Frequent emotional and physical issues
10 Facts about Anxiety That Will Surprise You
Anxiety is a word that seems to be thrown into more conversations today than ever. Here are 10 surprising facts that you may not have heard of:
1. Anxiety Is a Genetic Hand-Me-Down
Like your skin and eye color, you may inherit your anxiety from your parents. So a person genetically predisposed to mental health issues is more likely to develop an anxiety disorder than someone with no family history. So, even a minor stressful event that may not be much for others may cause an onset of anxiety for someone with a family history.
2. The Anxiety You Face Today Is Not due to Recent Events
Very young children face anxiety issues as well. However, as they do not recognize it, they will not be able to inform their parents about their anxiety. However, it manifests as physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and tantrums. It can also be seen in their behavior when they are inattentive, restless, have frequent meltdowns, and avoid circumstances.
3. Anxiety Can Be Helpful
Feeling anxious is completely normal. When you experience anxiety before meeting new people, giving a speech, or performing on stage, the body is in a heightened state of alertness. This is because the body shifts into high gear when it realizes how important the situation is. It may help you prepare and perform well. But it only becomes a problem when it presents itself without apparent reason and persists for long periods.
4. Women Are Twice As Likely to Develop Anxiety Disorders
Women are more prone to anxiety issues than their male cohorts. This is due to several reasons:
• Women respond slowly to feel-good hormones like serotonin.
• Women are very sensitive to the Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF), a hormone that is a part of the stress response.
• Women have high estrogen and progesterone levels. Due to this, their fight or flight response is easily activated and stays activated for longer.
5. Anxiety Disorders Increase the Risk of Health Problems
Long-term stress and anxiety mean increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is related to lung and heart damage and decreased immunity. It is also known to cause several chronic illnesses like gastrointestinal conditions and respiratory disorders. However, the exact mechanism of how it affects physical health is still unknown.
6. Anxiety and Depression Are Linked
Anxiety can often be the cause or trigger of depression. People with anxieties are more likely to develop depression as well.
7. Anxiety Can Be Physically Painful
Anxiety is often perceived as a mental or emotional state; however, it also has a strong physical aspect. While a person suffering from anxiety experiences irritability and restlessness, they also experience headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and other physical symptoms. These symptoms are due to the body’s fight-or-flight response, which leads to a rush of neurochemicals.
8. Anxiety Can Be Related to Anger Issues
People suffering from anxiety often have anger issues too. People use it to exert power over a situation they otherwise have no control over. It is an avoidance technique, so they do not have to deal with the more important issue of addressing their feeling and anxiety and dealing with it.
9. Anxiety Can Cause Memory Loss
As anxiety is often associated with worrying about the future, these individuals struggle to be in the present moment. So, they are often seen as lost, distracted, and not in touch with the present.
10. Exercise Can Help Reduce Anxiety
Several studies support the fact that exercise helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety. Further, the exercise need not be strenuous or intense. Simple and easy activities like walking can also help relieve anxiety.
New Techniques to Manage Anxiety
Some techniques that you can follow to manage your anxiety are:
• Controlled breathing
• The 333 rule
• Visualizing calming imagery
• Compassionate self-talk
• Progressive muscle relaxation
When Should You See a Professional to Help with Anxiety?
Although everyone experiences some level of anxiety, they can often tackle it with self-help techniques. However, if you are facing the below problems, you will need to consult a professional:
• The anxiety is affecting your personal and professional life
• You have anxiety symptoms for at least six months
• It is affecting your daily life
• You are anxious about many aspects of your life
• It is affecting your physical well-being
• It prevents you from doing things you enjoy
• It is causing sleep issues
• It isolates you from others
The therapist may prescribe medication, talk therapy, or a combination of several methods to help you overcome your anxiety.