What is Anxiety?
Most forms of anxiety are apparent in social situations. People suffering from severe anxiety are likely to also feel their symptoms outside of social situations. A person’s level of anxiety should be seen as being on a spectrum. One could argue that many people experience feelings of anxiety, but whereas some people suffer from high-severity anxiety, a lot of other people encounter milder forms of anxiety. Anxiety nevertheless, is very common. Severe anxiety may be referred to as ‘anxiety disorder’. Anxiety is similar to, but should not be confused with depression.
Causes of Anxiety
The main cause of anxiety is stress. This is the inability to cope with pressures and feelings of being overwhelmed. Such factors of stress mainly stem from but are not limited to work/school, personal relationships, and money. The build-up of stress can cause the inability to cope with pressures, often leading to the inability to face social situations and day-to-day life. People with anxiety tend to isolate themselves, which in result creates a vicious circle to find it difficult to break out of. Anxiety may also be caused by emotional trauma such as a loss or past experiences of abuse, bullying or neglect. Typically one experiencing an emotional trauma will also isolate themselves and then find it hard to break out from. People who overuse alcohol or drugs may also develop anxiety, due to experiencing regular states of a comedown. People may be prone to anxiety simply because of their biological genetics. This is because mental health issues can be seen as chemical compounds that shape the brain in which there is no nurtural cause.
• Emotional Trauma
• Past experiences of abuse, bullying or neglect
• Overuse of alcohol and drugs
• Biological genetics
Different Types of Anxiety
One’s level of anxiety may differ on the metaphorical spectrum between mild and severe anxiety. When people refer to anxiety, they are usually referring to ‘social anxiety’. This is the fear and uncomfortability of social situations and social interaction. Another main type of anxiety is ‘generalised anxiety’, which is the excessive worry and fear of day-to-day life, tasks, and events. Many people know what ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)’ is, but few realise that this is actually a type of anxiety. OCD is commonly seen as the need to do things repetitively for superstitious reasons, but one’s repetitive behaviour is merely a sub-bracket of OCD and is caused by unwanted, recurring thoughts and ideas that engulf the mind. OCD is a very complex type of anxiety that many people exude in mild and particular forms. People who experience trauma may suffer from ‘Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)’ — they may exude the same symptoms of people with social and particularly generalised anxiety, but simply have a different cause of their anxiety. People who overuse alcohol and drugs may experience substance-induced anxiety. This may be temporary or long-term based on the regularity of their substance habits. Particularly overusers of cocaine or ecstasy are likely to suffer this type of anxiety, due to trapping themselves in a mental “comedown” state.
• Social anxiety
• Generalised anxiety
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Substance-induced anxiety
This is the main difference between generalised and social anxiety, but this is not to say that people with generalised anxiety may not exude this symptom as well. It is important to consider that symptoms are not bound to each type of anxiety and that people can show symptoms from all types of anxiety. Further symptoms of anxiety include physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, breathing rapidly and experiencing an increased heart rate. Social situations are a common trigger for these physical symptoms, but people with more severe cases of anxiety are likely to encounter these at more random times.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heavy breathing and increase heart rate
- Feeling uncomfortable in social situations
Talking Therapy is a common, traditional method used to treat anxiety, in which the user is given time to talk through their mind as the therapist probes, analyses and advises. The main therapy technique to treat anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This method examines thoughts that lead to certain behaviours and reactions in anxiety-inducing situations. The therapist aims to change thought patterns that as a result has positive effects on behaviours, reactions, and general mental wellbeing. CBT tends to be the primary technique outside of pharmaceutical therapy and it may be argued that this is overused. Other therapy techniques that are used are relaxation therapy, not limited to meditation -- which can be self-administered.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Talking therapy