Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress which is experienced by everyone at some time or another. However when anxiety becomes frequent and intense, this might be indicative of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). If this sounds like you, read on to learn more.
Anxiety manifests as recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns and feelings of worry, fear, dread, or uneasiness. It can be experienced as mild, moderate, or severe, and is often experienced in the body. For example, people with anxiety may feel sweaty, experience trembling, dizziness, shallow breathing, an increased heart rate and blood pressure, and feel restless and tense.
There are many forms of anxiety and it is normal to experience it from time to time. But when anxiety is persistent and occurrs over months and even years, and impacts daily functioning, it may be generalised anxiety disorder. This kind of anxiety can be about all sorts of things. Whereas, other anxiety disorders are more specific, for example, health anxiety, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Due to the tension in the body that occurs, anxiety can cause all kinds of aches, including muscle aches, stomach aches, headaches, which can lead to pains in the affected parts of the body.
Anxiety can be draining because of the way it is released into the body. And because of how it impacts the mind and sleep. This means people who experience it can become easily fatigued.
For some people who experience anxiety, there is a sense of fear, dread, panic, danger, or impending doom.
Anxiety can make people feel wound up, or on edge due to the worry and feelings of fear or dread.
A common symptom of anxiety is feeling easily annoyed and irritated. This is because anxiety can make sufferers feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed so they experience low tolerance, or a ‘short fuse’.
Due to the preoccupation with worries, and the cognitive load that anxiety places on the brain and mind, as well as the impact it has on the body (for example, anxiety hormones and disrupted sleep), people can find it hard to focus.
For many people, anxiety can mean they are in a perpetual state of worry, dread, or fear. They are unable to stop or control intrusive thoughts which can disrupt sleep and the ability to focus on other things like work, or relationships.
Anxiety also causes bodily sensations and these include tension, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, trembling, sweating, tiredness, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
People who experience anxiety may feel restless and fidgety and find it hard to sit still.
Anxiety is often characterised by overthinking. This means that it can impact sleep due to the preoccupation with the worry or fear. People will often find it difficult to fall asleep, they may wake up during the night, and may even dream about the things that are bothering them. All of these can make them feel unrested.
Due to the nature of anxiety, and the impact it has on the brain, mind, and body, it is very difficult for people who experience anxiety to relax.
With GAD it is very common to worry too much about a range of things. With more specific forms of anxiety, the constant worrying is often related to the nature of the anxiety, for example, worries about contamination or death for those who have health anxiety.
It us unclear why people develop anxiety disorders, but there are various factors that may make some people more susceptible. Inherited traits are one such factor, for example if you have blood relatives who have suffered with anxiety disorders.
Traumatic life events, whether in child or adulthood are a risk-factor for the development of an anxiety disorder.
Certain underlying health problems could be the reason why an anxiety disorder develops.
Anxiety can also result from withdrawal from medication, including anti-anxiety medication (benzodiazepines), or withdrawal from alcohol.
An anxiety disorder could also occur as a side effect of medication or herbal supplements.
Personality also plays a role, some ‘personality types’ are more prone to anxiety.
Other mental health conditions can bring about anxiety, for example, people who are depressed may also develop anxiety.
Misuse of drugs (including alcohol) can impact anxiety because of the effect these chemicals have on brain receptors.
Our therapists offer a thorough psychological evaluation, this initial assessment helps us to understand your lifestyle, and understand whether anxiety is the problem, or the symptom of something else, which can then be addressed.
We use the criteria in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to understand whether you meet the criteria of any given anxiety disorder. If we diagnose a particular anxiety disorder, we can understand how best to treat it, as there are particular therapies that are suited to particular disorders. Notwithstanding, we will always tailor therapy to you and not the other way around.
We are holistic, this means we do not simply rely on the DSM and psychiatric diagnoses, we consider the context in which individuals live, and how this itself plays a significant role. The problem is not seen to be in you, rather it has emerged due to life factors that are also considered.
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