Anxiety can be an abstract term that some of us can find difficult to understand what it means. Often, we can think of extreme cases, which then negates what we are experiencing and feeling. I intend to bring the term ‘anxiety’ into concrete meaning, by painting a clearer picture for you.
Stress and worry are part of life in western society. It’s no surprise, considering how fast-paced our world is and how much pressure we put on ourselves to be ‘perfect’ in every aspect of our lives. It’s considered a normal response to feel anxious and worried when starting a new job, moving interstate, starting a new school etc.
However, anxiety is more than just stress and worry. It is racing thoughts that continue after the stressful event has passed or once the stressor has been removed.
These racing thoughts can spread through your whole life or can be triggered during certain times of the day, for example, when you’re going to bed or trying to relax.
Research has shown that anxiety is more prevalent than you may think, with one in three women and one in five men reporting to experience anxiety at some point in their life. It’s no wonder over 2 million Australians experience anxiety each month.
Often, people perceive anxiety as an extreme condition, without understanding some of the common symptoms:
- panic attacks
- hot and cold flushes
- racing heart
- tightening of the chest
- quick breathing
- feeling tense, wound up and edgy
- excessive fear
- catastrophizing or obsessive thinking
This list is not exhaustive but it does identify common symptoms for you to be aware of. If you believe you may have an anxiety condition or if you strongly identify with the symptoms listed above, please contact your GP for a thorough investigation. I am not qualified to diagnose but if you have experienced symptoms for 6 months or more, you definitely want to seek support. Don’t force yourself to go through it alone.
Types of Anxiety
Did you also know that there are various types, under the anxiety ‘umbrella’:
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) –
- Social –
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Common causes of Anxiety
- Familial – People often say “mental health conditions run in the family” and in part, this can be true
- Biological factors – Issues with the brain and nervous system can indeed be a contributor
- Stressful life events – This is different for everyone but has been known to trigger anxiety at differing levels
- Psychological factors – Being a perfectionist, having a nervous disposition, being emotionally sensitive can be risk factors
- Nutritional deficiencies – Each part of the body (gland, organ or system), requires specific nutrients to function optimally. The brain and nervous system is no exception
What to do if you suffer with Anxiety
- Be honest and open with loved ones about how you’re feeling
- Ask for support and be open to it when it’s offered
- Seek professional support
- Address any Nutritional concerns
- Implement an exercise plan
- Implement a stress management plan
- Implement a plan for emotional support