For many, anxiety is an ever-present uninvited guest; in our circle of friends, among family members, and in communities at large.
Escalating symptoms of anxiety impact up to 40 million adults in the US per year. According to some observers, anxiety is now snowballing in the United States.
While it’s perfectly expected to feel nervous or anxious in certain periods of your life (graduating from school, starting a new job, losing a loved one, etc., people with anxiety disorders feel often and excessively worried for no apparent reason.
Symptoms and Signs of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety can start innocently enough with just a worrying thought but often they progress quickly to more physical discomforts such as a pounding heart, heavy chest pain, lump in the throat, weakness, and dizziness.
Often referred to as panic attacks, escalating symptoms of anxiety may be diagnosed as a phobia, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder or other types of anxiety disorders.
While each of these conditions are characterized by different symptoms, all of them are marked by an irrational and unwarrented dread and/or fear that usually worsens very quickly and leads to more severe physical symptoms.
How Is Anxiety Manifested?
The symptoms of anxiety can make you feel like you are completely losing control or “going crazy”. Those who have suffered these symptoms will describe them as feeling like world is coming to an end, he/she is having a heart attack, or that he/she is going to die.
What’s even more unfortunate, is that once you experience a panic attack in this magnitude, it can very easily become part of a viscious cycle which consists of the panic attacks themselves and the ever-present fear of having another panic attack.
These anxiety symptoms can also lead to a multitude of phobias which render some individuals almost totally disabled. One such phobia is agoraphobia, the fear of being trapped in a setting that makes the person feel extremely ill-at-ease and unable to escape.
For this reason, the person may not even venture outside of his/her home. Because this type of anxiety can lead to such extreme disability, it is important to treat anxiety symptoms before they are allowed to climb the ladder to another disorder.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes of anxiety are still not clear. But professionals do believe that it is likely that many factors contribute to a person’s chances of developing the condition.
Scientists have broken down the potential causes into three groups, genetics and early learning, brain biochemistry, and the fight or flight mechanism.
Sometimes the cause is a chemical imbalance in the brain which impairs the way messages are sent. Two of the primary neurotransmitters that affect a person’s feelings are serotonin and dopamine. When there is an imbalance of these chemicals, a person can feel depressed or anxious.
Anxiety disorders also tend to run in families, so if a person’s mom, dad, or other close relative has anxiety, they have a higher chance of developing anxiety themselves both because of genetic factors and learned environmental factors.
Many of us — a surprisingly high percentage, as we shall see — are all too familiar with how anxiety feels. Anxiety is only a problem when it extends beyond logical worry in an unreasonable, unwarranted, uncontrollable way.
Situations that should elicit no negative emotions all of a sudden seem life-threatening or crushingly embarrassing.