What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, voice changes, or increased blood pressure. It may also be called nervousness.
Occasional anxiety concerning a stressful or uncomfortable event is normal. However, if a person feels disproportionate levels of anxiety or it is present almost continuously, it might be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is part of our survival response and is the way our body responds to potentially harmful or worrying triggers.
Strong emotions or fear cause a surge of epinephrine (also called adrenaline) from our adrenal glands. This increases our heartbeat, increases our sensitivity to our surroundings, and prepares us for physical confrontation or to flee if we perceive any threats to our safety. This is often called the fight or flight response.
Anxieties today mostly revolve around family, friends, health, money, or work. People more at risk of anxiety disorders include those:
- With relationship problems
- Whose jobs involve long hours, high workloads, little support, or danger
- With family members with anxiety disorders
- With medical conditions that result in significant lifestyle adjustments, pain, or restricted movement
- Who have experienced stressful or traumatic events
- Withdrawing from alcohol, opioids, or other substances.
What are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder are usually out of proportion to the original trigger or stressor.
If these are accompanied by significant physical symptoms such as increased sweating or increased blood pressure then a person is more likely to have an anxiety disorder rather than stimulus-appropriate anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic, ongoing condition with excessive worry over normal life events, whether minor or major. These feelings are usually out of proportion to the trouble that you may encounter in your everyday life.
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