What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most fundamental emotions shared by all species of animals. When confronted with danger, the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system is triggered so that we are prepared to react and protect ourselves. Without anxiety and its physiological manifestations, such as hypersensitivity to environment and enhanced blood supply to leg muscles, the likelihood of harm or disaster in threatening situations would undoubtedly dramatically increase. A moderate amount of anxiety also has the result of prompting individuals to prepare for certain events, such as exams and presentations, that clearly benefit from this action. Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person's ability to lead a normal life. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling. Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over something unlikely to happen, such as the feeling of imminent death. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is felt about something realistically intimidating or dangerous and is an appropriate response to a perceived threat; anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is not considered to be a normal reaction to a perceived stressor although many feel it occasionally. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations. For some people, however, anxiety can become excessive. While the person suffering may realize their anxiety is too much, they may also have difficulty controlling it and it may negatively affect their day-to-day living. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder to name a few. Collectively, they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation. In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal, productive anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.
What are the different types of anxiety disorders?
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by "brief episodes of intense fear accompanied by multiple physical symptoms (such as heart palpitations and dizziness) that occur repeatedly and unexpectedly in the absence of any external threat." Unlike fear, there is seemingly no reason or input that causes such an episode. It feels almost like an internal earthquake, something over which you have no warning and feel no control, an event that destabilizes the foundation of what you consider within the borders of normal expectation. After an initial panic attack, individuals often become incredibly fearful about the possibility of another attack. The degree to which this affects subsequent behavior and lifestyle can be extremely drastic and potentially debilitating. Whether it is a daily transformation or a more...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document