Anxiety


Anxiety is experienced in many forms, from being chronically tense and ill at ease, with numerous fearful thoughts throughout the day, to full-blown panic attacks and specific phobias. These phobias may include social anxiety or a persistent fear of specific stimuli or situations. One of the general characteristics across all forms of anxiety is worrying about future events and anticipating negative outcomes.

Generalized anxiety may be experienced as:

  • Restlessness, irritability or explosive anger
  • Fatigue
  • Fearful thoughts or anticipation of poor outcomes
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks
  • Frequent muscle aches and tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • General feeling of being uneasy
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Personality changes, such as becoming less social


Panic attacks involve sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning, and can even occur during sleep. The fear is not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around the person. Symptoms include:

  • Racing heart
  • Feeling weak, faint or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and fingers
  • Sense of terror, impending doom or even death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea
  • Sense of choking
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • A feeling of being detached from the world (de-realization)

 

More significant anxiety disorders are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which encompasses a range of emotional reactions caused by exposure to life-threatening circumstances such as wars, fires, floods, earthquakes, shootings, assault, and accidents. Traumatic events are re-experienced with fear and feelings of helplessness, and may appear in both thoughts and dreams. Common behaviors incude:

  • Avoiding activities, places or people associated with the triggering event
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Being hyper-vigilant, monitoring surroundings closely
  • Feeling a general sense of doom and gloom with diminished emotions
  • Symptoms of panic


Phobic disorders are intense, persistent, and recurrent fears of certain objects (e.g., snakes, spiders, blood) or situations (e.g., heights, enclosed spaces, being in public places, public speaking, flying, driving). Exposure to these objects or situations, or even anticipation of exposure may trigger a panic attack.

All forms of anxiety are treatable conditions for which counseling and, in some cases, medication solutions should be sought out.

 

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