Anxiety is a response to stress. It may leave you feeling apprehensive about the future or impending event. Anxiety may also be in response to feeling unable to handle a stressful event and can be anything from a doctor’s appointment to a funeral. Your children may feel anxious before the beginning of the school year, or when they have to take a test such as a final exam.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes, but when you remain in a constant anxiety state, according to the National Institute of Health, you may be suffering from another disorder such as:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Social Phobias
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
These anxiety disorders are similar, but can have different symptoms. If you feel your stress response is extreme and paralyzes you from action, consider these symptoms from the Mayo Clinic to determine if your anxiety level can be categorized as a disorder. Do you:
- Worry persistently even when there is no valid reason to?
- Have difficulties letting go of worries?
- Feel revved up and unable to relax?
- Have trouble concentrating or experience brain fog?
- Worry that you are worrying too much?
- Trouble making decisions that are permanent?
- Get frustrated with indecision?
- Think situations through to a negative end?
Anxiety can prevent you from living your life. It may also affect your children. Your anxiety affects them, but they may suffer from anxiety too. A home that is filled with stressed or trauma can result in an anxious environment. Some physical signs that you are anxious and have difficulty controlling your worry include:
- Experiencing twitches
- Muscle tension
- Excessive sweating
- Stomach distress
Look for signs in your children that they are anxious if they worry about fitting in, are obsessive about their homework and redo papers in an attempt to be perfect, lack confidence and are always seeking your approval or desire a lot of reassurance they are doing things correctly. Your child may be overly worried about their school performance and you can help them reduce their anxiety.
Your worries may not be linked to a specific event. You may worry for no reason or to just worry. For example, you may be anxious about losing your job, or your teenager getting into a car accident. Some worries are normal and prepare you for life’s events, but if you find yourself obsessing about life, you may have an anxiety disorder and should speak with a healthcare practitioner.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
An anxiety disorder differs from the brief anxiety you experience when going for an interview or public speaking. When the feelings of anxiety last for six months or longer, the National Institutes of Health consider it a disorder. Anxiety disorder results in an overwhelming, all-consuming feeling that danger is everywhere and you are powerless to do anything about it.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
An anxiety attack, or panic attack, has many of the same symptoms as severe anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may also experience things such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Inability to catch your breath
- Feeling of dying
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chills or hot flashes
- Chest pain
Typically, an anxiety attack occurs for no reason and can happen in a social situation or at home. You may feel as if you are dying and cannot stop the worry from manifesting itself into these physical symptoms.
What is Social Anxiety?
Once you have had a panic attack, you may fear going out into public and risk the chance of having an anxiety attack away from home. This causes many people with anxiety disorders to cross the line into agoraphobia– the fear of going outside. Unfortunately, panic attacks usually get worse if left on your own. You need medical treatment from a qualified professional.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks?
Genetics may play a role in whether or not you are susceptible to anxiety attacks. Also, a mis-fire in the brain or an altered brain chemical could be to blame. This is why medical advice is needed.
If you experience extreme anxiety and feel you have an anxiety disorder, or have had a panic attack, speak with your doctor. Treatment for anxiety disorders includes:
- Reduction in caffeine and/or alcohol
- Eat a healthy diet
- Improve sleeping patterns
- Develop relaxation techniques
It is important to get help right away for anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. The sooner you get help, the sooner you feel better. It is also important to stick with the treatment plan the doctor gives you. A support group may also be helpful so you do not feel alone as you find your way through this process.
Begin incorporating things into your day that help you relax. These may include meditation, listening to music, exercise, yoga, deep breathing techniques or nature walks. Find the things that help you calm your body and your mind so that you can let go of the worry and embrace your life.
Anxiety can be a severely debilitating feeling, but it does not have to control you. You are strong and powerful, and can live a life free of worry.