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Anxiety related feelings
Many of us have encountered the familiar sensation of anxiety, experiencing moments when our hearts race, our palms sweat, and sleep eludes us. Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress, serving as a warning sign that we may be in a potentially dangerous situation. From an evolutionary perspective, anxiety has provided humans with an advantage. The fear of a predator lurking nearby compelled our ancestors to exercise caution, take fewer risks, and ultimately survive. While the threats we face today differ, anxiety can still arise during situations we perceive as stressful, such as before an important exam. In moderate amounts, anxiety can be beneficial. It heightens our awareness and motivates us to perform at our best.
However, when feelings of stress and unease persist incessantly, even during ordinary daily occurrences, anxiety can become overwhelming. It can leave you feeling exhausted, impact your ability to concentrate, influence your interactions with others, and hinder your willingness to explore new opportunities.
What is anxiety, and who is affected by it?
Anxiety is an emotional state characterised by distress, uneasiness, and apprehension about future events. When anxiety arises, it often brings inner turmoil, making us feel unsettled in the face of seemingly uncontrollable circumstances. Nervous behaviours like nail-biting, restlessness, or pacing may accompany this state of anxiety.
Feeling anxious before a job interview or public speaking engagement is considered normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if everyday situations begin to feel threatening and you experience persistent anxiety, it could indicate an anxiety disorder.
It’s important to differentiate anxiety from fear. While fear is typically short-lived and directed towards a specific person or event, dissipating once the situation is resolved, anxiety can persist for extended periods, even years. Anxiety tends to revolve around a vague future threat, often leading individuals to withdraw from certain situations.
The prevalence of anxiety disorders has experienced a significant surge in recent years. According to data from the NHS, in the UK alone, approximately 6 out of 100 individuals are diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in any given week. Furthermore, between 1993 and 2014, there was a notable 20% increase in the number of people diagnosed with anxiety disorders. While anxiety can impact individuals of all genders, it is worth noting that GAD tends to be more commonly diagnosed in women than men, and its occurrence is more prevalent within the 35-59 age group. In fact, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health concern, affecting approximately 5% of the entire UK population.Anxiety is the most common mental health concern, affecting up to 5% of the total UK population.
Symptoms of anxiety
The emotional effects of anxiety include:
Individuals grappling with anxiety often describe their experience as feeling trapped. They find that when one source of anxiety dissipates, another quickly takes its place, hindering them from embracing new experiences. In more severe cases, anxiety can lead to avoidance behaviours that limit participation in social events, hinder the formation of connections, and impede performance at work.
Initially, avoiding anxiety-inducing situations may appear as a viable coping mechanism, but in the long term, it only exacerbates anxiety and contributes to an overwhelming sense of distress.
Fortunately, therapy emerges as a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Through therapy sessions, individuals gain valuable insights into effective strategies for anxiety management. Furthermore, therapy provides a platform to explore the underlying triggers of anxiety and challenge negative thought patterns that perpetuate distress.
How to deal with anxiety?
Managing anxiety symptoms is not only essential for your emotional well-being but also for your overall health. Research has indicated that untreated anxiety can lead to significant health complications, including high blood pressure. It can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections, contribute to weight fluctuations, and even impact memory function.
In the long term, anxiety can greatly impact your quality of life and hinder personal growth. The constant worry about potential outcomes can prevent you from fully experiencing and enjoying the present moment. This highlights the importance of seeking support and discussing your symptoms with a professional therapist who can determine whether they are normal or indicative of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
The good news is that anxiety can be effectively managed, and you can take control of your symptoms by implementing certain lifestyle changes. Begin by eliminating unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking and alcohol abuse, as they may provide temporary relief but ultimately lead to more problems down the line.
Incorporating regular exercise into your routine and spending time in nature have both been scientifically proven to alleviate anxiety. Additionally, engaging in mindfulness practices such as gardening, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can also be beneficial in reducing anxiety symptoms.
What causes anxiety?
Scientists still aren’t sure what causes anxiety, but they have identified several factors that may make someone prone to anxiety disorders:
If you would like some help & support, please speak with one of our therapists
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