What is anxiety and how can one cope?

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a term for persistent fear or worry. Anxiety may be related to one specific situation or thing, like a phobia of snakes or flying, or it may be more generalized, feeling more like an ongoing, chronic sense of dread or worrying about a lot of different things. Extremely high levels of anxiety can result in a panic attack. When an individual’s anxiety becomes severe and interferes with daily life, they may be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and/or specific phobia.

Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Excessive anxiety and worrying
  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance

Individuals with panic disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks
  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Derealization (feelings or unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

Individual with agoraphobia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Marked anxiety with two or more of the following:
  • Public transportation
  • Being in open spaces
  • Being in enclosed spaces
  • Standing in line or being in a crowd
  • Being outside of the home

Individuals experiencing social anxiety disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Marked fear or anxiety about social situations
  • The individual fears that they will act in a way that with be negatively evaluated
  • Social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear/anxiety
  • The fear/anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation

Individuals experiencing specific phobia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Marked fear/anxiety about a specific object or situation (e.g. flying, heights, animals)
  • The phobic object/situation almost always provokes immediate fear/anxiety
  • The phobic object/situation is actively avoided or endured with intense fear and anxiety
  • The fear/anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the phobic object/situation and to the sociocultural context

How is anxiety treated and how can one cope?

Treatments for anxiety include talk therapy, exposure therapycognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medications such as SSRIs or benzodiazepinesprogressive relaxation exercises, and/or breathing exercises.

Grounding Exercise

How to copy with anxiety with Olivia Remes | TEDxUHasselt

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – A short film (2018)

Panic disorder – panic attacks, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment & pathology


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