Updated: October 1, 2022

Okay, what exactly is “Anxiety?”

It’s the world stopping in your chest, it’s the racing of your body beyond your means of control. It’s every single frightening thought leading up to your head in an instant belief and incapability to feel safe. 

Experiencing occasion nervousness or anxiety can be classified as normal to some extent. However, people with anxiety disorders often have really intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden emotions of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

The symptoms of this mental illness can start either in early childhood or later adulthood, it’s especially prominent in the middle. Teenage hood. 

What happens when someone has an anxiety attack is that the person feels completely overwhelmed, they feel relentlessly agitated about a specific event or many events. These people often avoid confrontation and stress about many things throughout the day. 

There are some anxiety disorders that include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
  • Several types of anxiety disorders exist:

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that traps you from your mind first, like all of them do. However this one stages primarily in making you feel a need to avoid situations, places or people that could induce your anxiety or give you a panic attack or even just embarrass yourself.

Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.

Generalized anxiety disorder- includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry comes from the underlining habitual fear of things not going according to plan or unpredictability. 

Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

Selective mutism is a consistent failure of people or children to speak in certain situations or places. Perhaps someone who tries to speak but just cannot get the words out or their voices have just been muted in situations that make them anxious. They may at school appear completely mute, however at home they manage speech. 

Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level, this is related to a parent or care giver who had no stability in their participation in the child’s life. This can often occur with an absent father or mother. By means of force, death or irresponsible parenting. 

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of things that demand social attention. People with this kind of anxiety fear embarrassment to an unhealthy, self-deprecating degree and do not show up to social events due to the fact that they may have an anxiety attack or behave in an unorthodox way. 

The funny thing about this disorder is that, the person who is stiff and anxious in the presence of others, they are hiding, even in a room full of people, because anxiety isn’t their natural inclination in solitude, 

Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a something that you’re really afraid of. Perhaps a bird, this fear is called ornithophobia. 

Substance-induced anxiety disorder, comes from misuse of drugs or using it properly but having negative side effects. 

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You feel like you’re worrying too much and it’s negatively effecting your interpersonal or work relationships. 
  • It’s difficult to control, and it is beginning to upset you. 
  • You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
  • You have suicidal thoughts or behaviours, if this is the case, please seek emergency attention. 
  • Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may get worse over time if you don’t seek help. See your doctor or a mental health provider before your anxiety gets worse. It’s easier to treat if you get help early.

What Causes Anxiety?

The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood, like many others. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits also factor.

Medical causes

Examples of medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) or other medications
  • Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rare tumors that produce certain fight-or-flight hormones
  • Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of certain medications.

It’s possible that your anxiety may be due to an underlying medical condition if:

  • You don’t have any blood relatives (such as a parent or sibling) with an anxiety disorder
  • You didn’t have an anxiety disorder as a child
  • You don’t avoid certain things or situations because of anxiety
  • You have a sudden occurrence of anxiety that seems unrelated to life events and you didn’t have a previous history of anxiety
  • Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of developing an anxiety disorder:

Trauma. The traumatic incidents you were exposed to as a child, perhaps instability in parenthood. Expose to violence or abuse also contributes very highly to this issue. 

Stress due to an illness. Having a health condition or serious illness can cause a lot of anxiety and nervousness when having to deal with your own life and wellbeing. 

Stress build up. A big event or a build-up of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or financial issues.

Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are. You get different types of personality types, the type A personality is most likely to get this disorder by nature of a need for order and stability and insecurity. 

Other mental health disorders. People with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.

Having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can run in families.

Drugs or alcohol. Drug or alcohol use or misuse or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.

The Complications

Having an anxiety disorder does more than make you worry. It can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical conditions, such as:

  • Depression (which often occurs with an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorders
  • Substance misuse
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Digestive or bowel problems
  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Social isolation
  • Problems functioning at school or work
  • Poor quality of life
  • Suicide

Prevention

There’s no way to predict that something will help someone’s anxiety or even that they will get it.

But some key steps may help:

  • Get help early. 
  • Stay active. 
  • Stay comfortable. 
  • Avoid alcohol or drug use. 
  • Don’t spend too much time in your head.