Anxiety has become somewhat of a buzzword of late with an apparent increase in the number of individuals being diagnosed with anxiety disorders today. In the United States, 3.1% of people have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, 7.1% with social anxiety, and a whopping 9.1% of the population with various phobia-based disorders. While the root causes of this uptick are largely unknown, it is believed that factors such as social media, economic pressures, and historic underreporting may be responsible.
Despite this, the reality of living with anxiety remains somewhat of a mystery to much of the population – especially for people who may never experience this type of mental illness. In fact, our understanding of this condition is a relatively new phenomenon, becoming only adequately defined over the last 50 years or so. Whether you are currently a sufferer of anxiety or simply curious about the condition, you may well be asking, what does it mean to have anxiety?
Stay with us as we explore the common symptoms of anxiety disorders, as well as the various treatments and healing techniques that have been developed to help anxiety sufferers combat their symptoms.
So, what is anxiety and what causes anxiety disorders to develop?
These are questions that entire schools of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychopathology have dedicated themselves to answering. Many of us will already be familiar with the practice of psychology and psychoanalysis, however, psychopathology may be a novel concept to many people.
To clarify, there are various types of psychopathology. Essentially, while the umbrella term of psychopathology refers to the scientific study of mental disorders, how and why they arise, as well as their treatment, there are multiple different branches of the science. These relate to the specific area of specialization that is being focused on – for example, anxiety disorders, behavioral disorders, or dissociative disorders, such as generalized anxiety or panic disorder.
Undoubtedly, the area of psychopathology which specializes in the study and treatment of anxiety disorders is becoming of increasing importance today. This is because anxiety disorders are becoming more and more common, especially among young adults.
If you suffer from anxiety, you will likely have experienced some (or all) of the symptoms that are commonly associated with anxiety disorders. Many of the most common anxiety symptoms can be divided into two categories – emotional, and physical or psychological.
Common emotional symptoms of anxiety can typically include:
- Sensations of intense nervousness
- A constant feeling of being in danger or impending doom
- Constantly feeling panicked, stressed, or worried
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Significant issues with maintaining consistent sleeping patterns
Common physical or psychological symptoms of anxiety can typically include:
- Severe restlessness, sweating and trembling
- Sharp increases in heart rate when exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli
- Hyperventilation and an inability to control one’s breathing
- Gastro-intestinal issues
While each of us has experienced some form of anxiety in our lives, for the majority it is often temporary and situational, such as struggling to fall asleep because of a looming work deadline, or experiencing butterflies in the stomach before speaking in front of a crowd. For those with clinical anxiety, these symptoms are experienced much more frequently and often in combination with one another – becoming virtually unbearable and having a dramatic impact on an anxiety sufferer’s overall quality of life.
For this reason, individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders can benefit greatly from healing techniques, professional support, and tailored treatments to assist them in easing these symptoms.
Treating anxiety first involves understanding the root cause from which the anxiety stems.
In some cases, the individual may have experienced severe trauma or have an extreme phobia which has caused the anxiety disorder to develop – there is even a phobia of developing a phobia! In these cases, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy can help the individual immensely in understanding their disorder, what triggers their anxiety, and how to utilize this information to combat their symptoms. In other cases, an anxiety disorder can develop as a result of substance abuse. In these examples, rehabilitation and mental health support can be the most effective methods of treatment.
Regardless of what trigger has caused the disorder to develop, however, it can be said that individuals diagnosed with anxiety can benefit greatly from engaging in therapeutic practices. These practices can include frequently meeting with a counselor, mental healthcare professional, or therapist. As well as this, journaling when anxious is also said to be constructive, as well as participating in guided meditation and breathwork classes.
Like any mental health issue, the key to recovery is understanding the cause of the diagnosis and accepting professional treatment and support. By doing this, anxiety sufferers can work to reduce their symptoms, and ultimately, enjoy a better quality of life.