Anxiety is a normal and, often, healthy emotion. However, when a person feels disproportionate levels of anxiety on a regular basis, it can develop into a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders create a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive fear, nervousness, worry and apprehension. Physical symptoms can arise due to how certain anxiety disorders alter behavioral and emotional processing.
It is often referred to as the body’s “fight or flight” response, as it is a normal reaction to stressful situations. For example, feeling anxious before a big exam or a job interview is normal. It can even be helpful in some cases, as it can motivate a person to prepare and perform to the best of their ability. However, when anxiety becomes chronic and interferes with a person’s daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive, long-term worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart and difficulty breathing. Phobias are irrational fears of specific objects or situations, such as a fear of heights or a fear of flying.
Anxiety disorders can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. For example, some people may be more prone to anxiety due to their genetic makeup, while others may develop anxiety due to a traumatic event or ongoing stress. In some cases, anxiety can also be a side effect of certain medical conditions or medications.
Therapy in combination with proper medication is a common solution for treating those with anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of talk therapy, can help a person identify and change negative thinking patterns that contribute to their anxiety. Prescriptions such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines can also be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.
It is essential to seek treatment for an anxiety disorder, as, left untreated, anxiety can lead to other physical and mental health problems. For example, chronic anxiety can contribute to the development of heart disease, insomnia, and substance abuse. It can also worsen existing medical conditions.
In conclusion, anxiety is completely and totally normal. We all experience it on occasion. However, when it becomes chronic and interferes with a person’s daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable with therapy and medication, and it is vital to seek treatment to prevent the development of other physical and mental health problems.