What is Anxiety and how to deal with it

Everyone feels anxious and upset some of the time, particularly in the face of an object that virtually anyone would fear.  For example, if a huge growling dog runs toward you and looks ready to attack, then you should be anxious! Or what if you suddenly see a very large snake or spider? Most people would feel very anxious under such circumstances.

Anxiety pumps up your adrenalin levels, and hopefully enables you to climb up a tree or otherwise escape from Cujo the dog, as well as from the scary snake or spider.  Pathological anxiety feels just as bad (or even much worse), but it generally occurs when there is no real threat to you. Yet despite the lack of a valid threat, the doomed or frightened feelings, the racing heart, and the other symptoms of anxiety occur anyway when you have an anxiety disorder.

Many people having a panic attack believe they are having a heart attack or a stroke, and they are extremely shocked when the emergency room doctor says it’s an anxiety attack.  In fact, a panic attack often closely resembles the symptoms of a heart attack, with an elevated heart rate, higher-than-normal blood pressure, and profuse perspiration. Fortunately, Sandra was able to use some strategies to calm herself on that plane to her mother who needed her. Read this book for how you too can resolve your anxiety.

Even if you don’t have anxiety that rises to the level of an anxiety disorder, the suggestions in this book will help you during those times when you do become extremely anxious, such as on the day you are going to meet your partner’s parents for the first time, just before you have to give a major speech, and on other occasions.

Even if you don’t have anxiety that rises to the level of an anxiety disorder, the suggestions in this book will help you during those times when you do become extremely anxious, such as on the day you are going to meet your partner’s parents for the first time, just before you have to give a major speech, and on other occasions.

EXPLAINING ANXIETY

Anxiety that is chronic and severe is often referred to as an anxiety disorder. There are different types of anxiety disorders, but they are all characterized by an irrational and extreme fear and dread, and they are accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat.

Different Types of Anxiety

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a book published by the American Psychiatric Association, and accepted as valid worldwide by mental health professionals, the primary types of anxiety disorders are specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia. 

Specific phobia

The person with a specific phobia fears a particular feared type of object, such as spiders or snakes. Of course, many people fear snakes and spiders, but the phobic person suffers an extreme fear that extends well beyond that of the average person.

Some phobias seem very silly to people, such as the fear of frogs (batrachophobia), of chickens (alektorophobia) or of bats (chiroptophobia).  Most people don’t encounter frogs or live chickens in their daily lives, and certainly you can easily avoid bats (unless you enter their caves or other locations where bats like to hang out).  The phobia may become so intense that the person avoids large areas where they believe that the feared object might be, like a street, city, or even a province or state where the person once saw a frog, in the case of the batrachophobic person.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Nearly everyone can remember a time when they had to give a presentation or speak up in church or elsewhere. The fear of public speaking is a nearly universal one. Organizations like Toastmasters help people to reverse their anxiety over speaking in public.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) goes far beyond common everyday social fears. With this disorder, the person becomes anxious and fearful about interacting with nearly everyone, anywhere, with the exception of parents and very close friends. 

He worries that he is highly likely to say something stupid or embarrassing, while she thinks that she might trip and fall down, and everyone will laugh at her. In fact, he and she can see such terrible events happening in their minds. The person is so afraid of doing something catastrophic that he or she foregoes nearly all social contact. As a result of this disorder, these individuals are often very lonely people. Therapy can help considerably.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is characterised by frequent and chronic panic attacks. A panic attack is a type of debilitating anxiety that overwhelms and overcomes the person on a regular basis. She feels as if she is dying, although she might not know why she has this fear.

A panic attack is often accompanied by an increased heart rate and blood pressure, and many people in the midst of a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or stroke with a panic attack. Fortunately, panic attacks can be treated with deep breathing as well as with medication, herbal remedies, and many other options, all described in this book.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

If you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), you probably know that you frequently have an overwhelming sense of dread and impending doom, but you don’t know what it is that you fear so much.  This is a very scary and also a very frustrating experience.

For the person with GAD, almost everything is experienced as an “Oh, no!” event. Even if something wonderful happens, like you get a pay raise or fall in love with your soulmate, the person with GAD worries that this was such a great thing that happened, that it must be balanced out by some terrible event. This is not rational thinking and it puts a damper over the person’s whole life. Fortunately, GAD is highly treatable, as are all forms of anxiety disorders.

Agoraphobia

The person with agoraphobia is afraid of being out in the open, such as being in the middle of a parking lot or a supermarket. (Or being in the middle of a supermarket parking lot.)  They are often afraid of using public transportation because people with agoraphobia fear such closeness. Crowds are terrifying to the agoraphobic person.

Agoraphobia may prevent a person from having a job other than a home-based one, and consequently, they must prevail upon others to bring them food, water, and the other necessities of life. Even walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway to retrieve the mail may be well beyond the capability of the agoraphobic person. Fortunately, agoraphobia, as with the other anxiety disorders, is treatable.

Who Suffers From Anxiety Disorders?

People of all ages and both genders may suffer from the sick feeling of anxiety that is present in all anxiety disorders, but some groups have a greater risk for specific types of anxiety disorders than others. For example, children are more likely to be phobic than adults, although many adults suffer from crippling phobias.

People with Specific Phobia

In general, the one-year prevalence of specific phobia is about 7%, which means that about 7% of the population suffers from specific phobia over the course of a year.  The highest prevalence for specific phobia occurs among adolescents who are ages 13-17, or a rate of 16%. Fortunately, when phobic teens become young adults, the prevalence drops back down, perhaps because their hormone levels stabilize. In general, females are more than twice as likely as males to have a specific phobia disorder.

The person with a specific phobia may have had a frightening experience with the feared object, although this is not always true.

People with Social Anxiety Disorder

The annual prevalence for social anxiety disorder, formerly called social phobia, is about 7%, and this prevalence generally decreases with increasing age. For example, older adults only have about a 3% prevalence of social anxiety disorder in the course of a year. Perhaps their experience makes them less likely to be worried about what others think of them.

Most people with this disorder experience the problem for the first time before age 15.  Social anxiety disorder sometimes may result from a bad experience, such as being bullied in school, while in other cases, the trigger for the disorder is unknown. Females are more likely to suffer from social anxiety disorder than males, in a ratio of 1.5 females to 1 male.

Individuals with Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is much less common than other anxiety disorders, and the annual prevalence is only about 3% among both adolescents and adults.  Females are about twice as likely to have panic disorder as males. The onset of panic disorder is usually sometime after age 14.  Younger children and adolescents can develop panic disorder, but it is unusual.

Individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This disorder, which is characterized by constant worry and fear, has a one-year prevalence of 3% among adults and less than 1% among adolescents. Females  experience twice the risk of suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as males. GAD has its highest incidence in middle age.

People with Agoraphobia

This anxiety disorder is present in about 2% of all adolescents and adults.  Females have about twice the risk for developing agoraphobia as males. Individuals older than 65 years rarely experience agoraphobia. In most cases, agoraphobia has its onset sometime before the person is 35 years old, and it rarely occurs in children.

More Than One Disorder is Possible

Many people have more than one anxiety disorder, which can be very distressing to the individual. For example, a person could have social anxiety disorder along with generalized anxiety disorder, as well as other possible combinations.

In addition, many people with anxiety disorders often suffer from depression as well. People with anxiety disorders also have an elevated risk for developing substance abuse problems with alcohol or other drugs or with both alcohol and drugs.  These problems may stem, at least in part, from attempts to self-medicate and decrease the effects of the anxiety disorder. Alcohol or drugs may temporarily take away the anxiety while the person is under the influence—but it always comes back unless treatment occurs.