Some may or may or know, but I have generalised anxiety disorder. And no, I am not afraid to speak out about it, nor am I ashamed for that matter. It is both my weakness, and my strength. It is also an illness, a very common one too. Anyone can get anxiety no matter what your age or gender is. This is a subject I feel very passionately about, and it still has negative stigma about it which needs to cease.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is the feeling of unease, worry, nervousness ect experienced at a period of uncertainty. Everyone can experience anxiety and anxious feelings, it’s completely normal to, especially at times of stress like exams, performing, having a baby ect. But having an anxiety disorder is much different. “Anxiety disorders are a category of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, where anxiety is a worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and shakiness.” – Wikipedia. In addition, this disorder may effect simple day to day life activities, depending on the severity. It is the body’s way of dealing with stress.
What can cause an anxiety disorder?
Three main theories: Situational/ environmental causes (eg a traumatic event, a current stressful situation ect), psychological causes, (like other illnesses that have triggered anxiety), and biological causes (anxiety can run in the family).
What part of the brain controls anxiety?
The amygdala (a-mig-dala). These are two almond sized organs located within the brain and controls and regulated levels of anxiety (amongst other things).
If something triggers anxiety in a stressful situation, the amygdala will cause the body to react to stress with anxiety, usually, it will reduce and after a period of time, the levels of anxiety will return to normal. But for someone with an anxiety disorder, or if it is persistent in some cases, these levels won’t reduce, and it becomes “normal” for the brain to function like this, making it seem impossible to manage. Here is a brilliant video that explains how it works http://youtu.be/6GdALwuYtG8
Physical reactions to anxiety/ stress, panic:
Stomach churning/ “butterflies”, dizziness, light headed, sweating, involuntary toileting, shaking, trembling, not talking, tense muscles, chest feels right and or painful, heart is racing, palpitations, difficulty breathing, tingling, numbness. You may experience some or all of these.
How you may think/ feel when experiencing anxiety:
Assuming the worse will happen, unreasonable thoughts, irrational reasoning, woozy, detached from reality, on edge, can’t concentrate, feeling something bad will happen at any minute, racing thoughts ect. Again, this may all be experienced, or just some symptoms.
Behaviours of anxiety sufferers:
Many people with anxiety will avoide certain places for fear of the unknown, or avoiding a place in fear of panicking if they’ve had a previous panic attack there. During an attack of anxiety you may: pace up and down, sit in a ball and rock, become snappy and irritable, sit in utter silence and not want to talk, talk quickly, stutter, on the go all of the time, cry ect.
What keeps anxiety going?
- If you have an anxious personality, it means you are in the habit ofoverthinking and worrying.
- Persistent stress will keep fuelling anxiety
- “Fear of fear“, fear of anxious symptoms coming along = bodily and psychological symptoms
- Vicious circles: thoughts -> bodily symptoms -> more thoughts -> feeling anxious/ having a panic attack -> thought. And so on
- Avoidance: used often as a way of coping. A person may sometimes find something too much and will not attend that event/ situation for fear of panicking/ not feeling safe ect
What it’s like living with anxiety:
From personal experience, feeling on edge all of the time, constantly in a state of stress and worry, dread, avoiding places. My brain got used to functioning with so much adrenaline and stress it became difficult to distinguish if I was becoming better, or just getting used to it. Saying all of this, I am a lot better now thanks to medication and CBT.
Common thoughts with anxiety sufferers:
- “I’m loosing control”
- “I can’t do this, I can’t cope anymore”
- “I’m seriously ill with cancer, or something awful at least”
- “I am going to die”
- “I feel so embarrassed”
- “I’m going to have a stroke or heart attack”
- “I’ve gone mad”
Facts and statistics:
- About 2 out of 100 people are estimated to have panic disorder, a third of these people are estimated to turn into agoraphobics.
- 10% of teens have an anxiety disorder
- 1/3 of sufferers will receive treatment
- Nearly one half of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety. Vise versa
- Anxiety disorders effect 1/8 children
- Counselling people: 01603 661002
- Mind: Norwich & District: 01603 629432 Great Yarmouth & Waveny: 01493 842129
Some useful and helpful videos:
- Niomi Smart: ways to de-stress https://youtu.be/OscLr1_jTiY
- Self help, ways to cure aniety http://youtu.be/3ArtxNt606U
- What causes a panic attack https://youtu.be/8Kbrb7Xer-Q
- What are anxiety disorders? http://youtu.be/Q2E_TpaNEM0
I do hope this helps, whether to educate you if you have anxiety, or know someone with anxiety. I may go into detail about a specific topic in the future, like how to deal with anxiety, long term effects of anxiety, or to go into further depth about what causes it. Ect. But for now, I do hope this has helped, Thankyou for reading, much love, Izzy 💛 x