Where Does Anxiety Come From?
Everyone gets anxious from time to time. For some, anxiety is a chronic disorder that can make it very difficult to function in society. An anxiety attack can freeze a person in fear of something they usually can’t identify. This can prevent them from continuing with their day until after the attack is over, and then until they recover from the fear it causes. It can even bring on physical effects. But why does anxiety consume some people, while others are only mildly affected by it?
Types of Anxiety
There are many types of anxiety, which vary in their intensity, including:
Generalized anxiety disorder — GAD, as it is often referred to, combines excessive worry and tension, even if there is little to no foundation for it.
Social anxiety disorder — This type of anxiety involves an overwhelming self-consciousness about everyday social situations. People with social anxiety disorder often worry that they are being judged by others negatively, which causes them to avoid group situations that they otherwise might attend.
Panic disorder — A panic attack can be terrifying. It comes on suddenly, seemingly for no reason. A person might become short of breath, start to sweat or have heart palpitations. Although panic attacks usually last for only a brief period, maybe 5 to 10 minutes, it can seem like a lifetime for those who are waiting for it to stop. Panic attacks usually occur repeatedly, so a person who gets them also lives in fear of not knowing when the next one is going to hit.
Phobias — Phobias relate to the usually over-reactive and unwarranted fear of a specific situation, such as a fear of flying or a fear open spaces. They can prevent the sufferer from participating in everyday activities, restricting the living of their lives to varying degrees.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Stress is often a trigger for anxiety, both of which can control how we feel, both mentally and physically. Having a habit of always envisioning the worst-case scenario for any situation a person encounters can also contribute to chronic anxiety. How do you identify anxiety? Some common symptoms of both stress and anxiety are:
- Having a churning stomach or nausea
- The involuntary tensing of muscles
- Sweating suddenly and profusely
- Having heart palpitations
- Feeling a numbness in the arms or legs
- Having a headache, backache or diarrhea
Causes of Anxiety
The specific cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but there are many factors that can contribute to having one, or even more than one type of disorder. Some may be caused by problems with the parts of the brain that regulate emotions such as fear. There is also the possibility that anxiety may be genetic. But it is much more likely that environmental stressors are to blame, such as suffering a trauma with the fear of it reoccurring. There are many environmental factors that can trigger the onset, and continuation of anxiety disorders. These include:
- The death of a loved one
- Having a chronic illness or debilitating injury
- Moving to a new place, which can represent the unknown
- Starting a new job
- Getting married
- Having a baby
Some medications — particularly ones that contain stimulants — can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety, making it that much worse for the sufferer. Diet pills, asthma inhalers, and thyroid medications have been identified as medications that can make anxiety symptoms more pronounced.
While there are many causes of anxiety, the end result is the same — the chronic anxiety sufferer must endure the constant fear and feelings of constraint that it causes. It is important to identify the symptoms of anxiety and identify whether the distress being experienced is caused by anxiety or another source such as physical illness. Doing so allows the sufferer to seek treatment sooner than later and bring their anxious feelings under control.