Anxiety: What does that mean?

I’m sure that you’re not too surprised when I say that anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In fact, anxiety is a natural human instinct.

Anxiety is when a person behaves or feels apprehensive towards certain situations. It becomes a disorder when it is considered excessive or when it impairs an individual’s ability to live a “normal” life.

In the United States, it is estimated that around 18% of the population currently suffers from an anxiety disorder and 40% of American adults have suffered or are still living with an anxiety disorder.

While 1 in 3 adults that suffer from an anxiety disorder receive treatment, only 1 in 5 teenagers in the United States are ever given that same opportunity.

Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Racing Thoughts
  • Feelings of worry or dread
  • Stomach-aches
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • and more… 

Anxiety can be broken down into several categories. Social anxiety, for example, or even separation anxiety. Even Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are considered more specific illnesses under the “umbrella” of anxiety.

Personally, I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and non-combat PTSD. Individuals with GAD feel anxious with no discernible triggers and these feelings can last for days. Even when we are aware that our anxiety is illogical or unwarranted, we can’t shake that feelings we are experiencing which makes us feel even more out of control. People with GAD can have discernible triggers — for example, one of mine is loud noises — but most of our anxiety comes from seemingly nowhere.

People with PTSD have experienced one or more traumatic events in the past that they are not able to fully cope with. This inability to deal with “stressors” in their past affects how they function in the present. I am going to do a whole week on PTSD, so I don’t want to give too much away (stay tuned for more).

Although there is no uniform cause for anxiety amongst all individuals, a few of the hypothesized causes are:

  • Chemical imbalances
  • Long-lasting stress
  • Family history of anxiety or other mental health issues
  • Trauma
  • Abuse of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication
  • Incidence of other mental health disorders

Therapy is a popular (and expensive) form of treatment used to combat anxiety disorders. Medicine can also be used to create a neurochemical balance in the brain. A more alternative form of treatment is meditation and breathing exercises. For people with mild forms of anxiety, meditation may help more than medication would, but each individual should find what works best for them.

This post is meant to introduce readers in the broadest sense to what anxiety is. This is in no way meant to replace a trained medical professional nor am I attempting to assert myself as a trained medical professional. If you or someone you know needs help of any sort, please seek a professional or contact a mental health hotline.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I walk you through each of my types of anxiety attacks.


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