The world we live in today is filled with pressure and strain which stem from both personal and professional situations and activities. As a result, millions of people suffer from stress and anxiety every day. However, they are often ignored and left untreated. This can be harmful to the body and mind.
Anxiety occurs when someone is uneasy, worried or apprehensive about a person, situation or event. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you do not have any medical, chemical or biological deficiencies; it simply means that you tend to be quite anxious in certain situations.
Anxiety and stress are closely related. In fact, if you experience anxiety, it is a symptom of stress! Every person is different, so the type of anxiety and the frequency and intensity of the symptoms will differ.
Stress is a combination of emotional, physical and mental factors which cause tension. This could be a result of your immediate environment, related to social situations or internal factors such as medical conditions or illness. In small doses, stress can help a person with productivity, meeting challenges and goals. On the other hand, too much stress can have negative effects on your health and well-being.
Anxiety and stress can overwhelm you quickly with crippling effects on your body. Therefore, it is important to be able to recognise the symptoms quickly and treat it accordingly.
Stress can affect the mind and symptoms include poor memory and judgement, lack of concentration as well as negative, anxious thoughts. It can also affect one emotionally, causing depression, anxiety, irritability, anger and loneliness. Stress takes a toll on the immune and digestive systems resulting in frequent infections, nausea, diarrhoea and aches and pains. Lastly, it can also alter behaviours such as eating and sleeping patterns.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common anxiety disorders:
Panic Attack Disorder (PAD), more commonly referred to as a panic attack, can occur quickly as a result of impending danger or it can occur for no reason at all. Panic attacks can last a few minutes or a few hours and the most common symptoms include a racing heart, sweating, a need to escape, nervousness and weak muscles, to name a few.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) occurs when someone worries about anything and everything more often than most. This disorder is no worse than any other, it just means that these people need to learn the correct skills used to cope with stress and uncertainty. People who suffer from GAD live life very cautiously, they also feel uneasy and unsafe in various situations and they are often on the lookout for potential threats or danger.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) occurs when someone struggles to control compulsive thoughts and actions. Continuous thoughts or rituals are performed in order to acquire a feeling of safety. Thus, one who suffers from this disorder feels that by harping on these thoughts and performing these actions, it will ensure that everything will be fine. Other symptoms include disrupted sleep, fear, concern and agitation.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) refers to people who become anxious amongst people in social situations. They usually fear rejection and are conscious of what other people think of them and any consequences that may result. They usually display symptoms of nervousness, low self-esteem and sensitivity to rejection and criticism.
Someone suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when a past traumatic event evokes vivid anxious reactions such as nightmares and flashbacks as a result of these memories. PTSD stirs up concern and people start to avoid anything that reminds them of the event and creates an ongoing internal struggle.
A phobia refers to a person’s fear of people, objects and situations which can range from snakes and mice, to heights and water, which results in anxiety when thinking about or confronted with the fear.
All of the above-mentioned anxiety disorders are treatable and if you or anyone you know suffers from any of the above, please seek treatment. There are many great books available with all the relevant information that you need, the support of friends and family is a great comfort when struggling with stress and anxiety and finally seek the help of a qualified professional who can assist with cognitive behavioural therapy. Stress and anxiety does not have to overtake your life, you can feel better with the right assistance! So go out there and live the positive and stress-free life you deserve!