Anxiety could be described as worrying excessively. Most people worry and this is normal, indeed sensible at times. It’s natural to worry about the safety of young children for example or our own when driving. Worry is an aspect of fear and there are some things it’s good to be frightened of.
But like most things that are good, too much is bad and this applies to worrying. If you worry so much that your every day life is affected, perhaps you’re not sleeping well, not concentrating on your work or you’re getting irritable with those around you, then you may have what is termed an anxiety state. But try not to worry about it! There’s much you can do to help yourself.
Who gets Anxiety?
Almost anyone can. Anxiety states are very common in our society and some have suggested that our western lifestyles are responsible – who knows? What is known for sure is that some people are more susceptible to anxiety than others, everyone knows people who appear to be able to ride out life’s troubles with ease, never kept awake at night by a churning mind. But even these seemingly laid-back individuals can develop anxiety states if the circumstances are right. A number of factors are thought to increase the risk of developing anxiety.
Adverse life events: such as divorce, death of a loved one or loss of job. This is especially so if several of these events occur in a short space of time.
A traumatic childhood.
Drug misuse: for example caffeine, alcohol, amphetamines.
Lack of social support
Symptoms of Anxiety
These are quite variable and it’s unusual for one person to get them all.
Not sleeping, mind constantly thinking, worry about the future, feeling that you can’t get your breath, palpitations, digestive upsets, thirst, muscle tension and headache.
One of the difficulties with anxiety is that it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral. What happens is that you develop one or more of the above symptoms. You then think that you might have a serious illness; this racks up your anxiety level which in turn provokes more symptoms and then more anxiety. It’s thought that one of the major reasons for the formation of this spiral is the development of abnormal breathing patterns that can occur in some sufferers. This then alters the levels of various chemicals in the blood which give rise to more anxiety symptoms.
What to Do if you Experience Some of the Above symptoms?
Any of the symptoms of anxiety can be due to underlying illness. They probably aren’t, but it’s as well to check with your doctor first. At the very least the reassurance that it’s nothing serious will help lower your anxiety level. Remedies for anxiety fall into three categories: self-help, complementary therapies and medical help.
The main methods are: relaxation techniques, meditation and breathing techniques. These three are inter-related in that one often incorporates something of the other. Many people find yoga and tai chi useful. Physical exercise is good for relieving muscle tension.
Those most commonly used are: acupuncture, hypnotherapy and massage.
Medical help falls into two major categories: medication with drugs like the benzodiazepines or psychotherapy – the most effective of which seems to be cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Here the patient is taught how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
So if you have anxiety symptoms, don’t put up with them, get checked out by your doctor and discuss with him or her what you can do to help yourself.