Anxiety is felt within the body but is a product of that which we hold in our mind. The reaction of the body to the mind can cause many different responses in the body. The common symptoms of Anxiety are shown below. Most sufferers will experience not all but some of the below;
Rapid Heart Beat – Shortness of Breath – Sweating – Blushing – Blurred Vision – Shaking –Inability to stop thinking – Dry/ Wet Mouth – Butterflies in your stomach
All of the above symptoms of anxiety are useful in certain situations. For example; if we go out running, our heart beat will raise and we will sweat. If we are about to be sick, we experience a wet mouth and if we are cold, we shake. In one context, all of these feelings don’t affect us, yet in another they produce fear.
Anxiety is a liar!
A good way of overcoming anxiety is being able to re-contextualise the way we think about those feelings. For example; if I asked you what is the opposite of light, you would probably respond with dark. However, in another context, you could say the opposite of light is the absence of light. The opposite of rich is not poor but absence of money. Often just seeing anxiety from a different view-point is enough to remove its fear. You have to have a good understanding of that which is going on to enable yourself to do this.
Unfortunately, because our body reflects what is happening in our mind, we can easily trick the mind into ‘thinking’ something bad is happening. For example; you might find yourself relaxed and comfortable at home on your sofa, when a thought pops into your head and your body thinks this is actually happening and that it’s not just a thought and creates some or all of all the mentioned emotions in your body. Experiencing all those emotions when you have no perceived threat in front of you is terrifying, as all that energy that is now in your body and has nowhere to go. You then find that you feel yourself losing control of your body because you are using your conscious to try to control your unconscious and unfortunately they don’t talk to each other like that.
There is a very large mental downside to anxiety and that’s the emotional symptoms of anxiety. Along side the actual feelings of in the body you may also have any of the following happening in the mind.
- Feelings of apprehension, anticipating the worst
- Restlessness, trouble concentrating
- Feeling tense and jumpy, or irritable
- Feeling Numb – that you simply don’t care about anything
We often see anxiety split into different categories – I have shown them below
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
GAD is extremely common and generally diagnosed by doctors if someone has been worrying for a minimum of six months, about at least two specific stressful life events.
For example; a relationship breakdown and loss of employment. The anxiety symptoms experienced are usually;Feeling agitated, irritability, inability to relax, difficulty in concentrating, mind going blank, continual worrying, feelings of depression
Physical Symptoms such as;
Muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, headaches, fatigue, heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, quick shallow breathing.
People who suffer from GAD often feel over taken by a real sense of fear. The fear is often
formless or else may be centered on something that isn’t irrational to fear, such as an illness but the individual feels unable to do anything to help them face it calmly.
Whatever causes the worry, the worry often becomes over bearing. For instance, a sense of apprehension may appear if a person has to work at a different site to usual, or drive
somewhere they are unfamiliar with. It can be seen that someone with Anxiety has a level of one. Someone with GAD is usually already at level three, regardless of factors. When you are constantly aroused through anxiety, the toll on our body can be quite great and that’s when you feel the physical symptoms as stated above. GAD usually starts when
people suffer stress for an extended period of time. The constant stress builds up to the point where you longer can cope and you end up a prisoner to anxiety.
A phobia is when we have an exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity or situation that in reality presents little or no danger. A common phobia would be fear of spiders, fear of flying, and fear of heights.
Often we see that when a person becomes fearful of one activity for example flying they cease to stop doing that activity. In turn that person hopes if they don’t do what makes them fearful their anxiety will disapear. Unfortunately our mind doesn’t fall for that trick and often people who are scared of say one thing end up finding that the anxiety morphs to something else. For example you may start with a fear of flying, you then stop flying only to find you start getting anxiety whilst using public transport.
Social Anxiety Disorder
A person with SAD is anxious they will make mistakes, look bad, not fit in, be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. SAD can be made worse for people who lack social skills or experiences in social situations. Usually the person will feel anxious before the event and if their fears of making a mistake do happen once their can lead to the suffering experiencing a panic attack. SAD has a very negative impact on the sufferers life as this can interfere with relationships and social activities and with hold the person leading a normal life.
Typical situations a person with SAD avoids are
- Eating or drinking in front of others
- Working in front of others
- Being the center of attention
- Interacting with people, dating going to parties
- Asking questions
- Using public toilets
The typical symptoms of SAD are
- Intense anxiety in social situations
- Avoidance of social situations
The typical physical symptoms of SAD
- Pounding heart
- Muscle Tension