Simply put, anxiety means worry and all of us go through some amount of worry at different points in our life. We normally respond with some degree of anxiety when faced with a problematic situation; which is an important defense mechanism for the human body. However it can spiral out of control result in very serious mental health problems.
Anxiety is not just worry; it is the sense of dread, uneasiness and fear and it has cognitive, somatic and behavioral components that could spiral out of control and become a mental disorder. We look at the different aspects of anxiety:
Physical effects of anxiety
A person may find that their heart starts to race and even palpitate; there could be tension headaches or stomachaches and even chest pain. Muscles may tense up but the body may feel weak, there could be nausea and the urge to throw up. One may start to sweat profusely and may start to tremble visibly.
If these sound like a panic attack that would be correct, since panic attacks could be one of the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Emotional effects of anxiety
Anxiety can bring feelings of dread and apprehension, so that a person is irritable and jumpy, not knowing what may happen next. They may have trouble concentrating and may find that the mind seems to go blank. One can feel trapped and restless. Difficulty sleeping and bad dreams are other effects of anxiety.
Cognitive effects of anxiety
A person can start to perceive reality differently and may appear neurotic. For instance an overly anxious person may convince themselves that death is imminent or that they are suffering from a terrible life threatening condition. These thoughts could preoccupy the mind adding to the feelings of anxiety.
Behavioral effects of anxiety
The anxiety could cause changes in behavior such as the development of a nervous tic or fidgeting. The person may seek to withdraw from situations that are perceived as dangerous or which have induced anxiety. Due to anxiety, a person may sleep poorly and affect their health negatively.
Symptoms of anxiety Disorder
Anxiety and its manifestations are a group of disorders rather than just one single problem and correct diagnosis should be the first step towards treatment. So how do we differentiate regular worry from an anxiety disorder? Here are some indications that a person may be undergoing more than just regular worry:
Overreacting to situations: If someone is late for instance, they may instantly assume the worstrather than think logically and rationally.
Unexplained and persistent feelings of dread: Though there may be no perceivable reasons for it. Innocuous seeming things may trigger anxiety. The dread is not only persistent it tends to intrude into and disturb one’s functioning on a day to day basis. The constant anxiety may affect work, relationships and quality of life.
Changes in behavior: Convinced that something bad will happen unless things are done only in a particular way, the person may start to display obsessive compulsive behavior. Even everyday situations and occurrences may cause anxiety and the person may start to withdraw and even become socially isolated.