Anxiety - The "what if" mental health condition.

Sep 6, 2022

The end of the August can bring anxiety. Whether it is back to school, moving to university, sending the kids away to school or having to make new friends on a new team or in a new class this time of year can take it tolls on emotional health.

Anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior. It differs from fear which is an emotional response to an immediate threat. Fear is associated with a fight or flight reaction, either staying to fight or leaving to escape danger.

Anxiety is a condition marked by fixation on the future or an abnormal focus on the future. It occurs when you, consciously or unconsciously, are worried about what could happen. Anxiety is the most diagnosed mental condition in the world and while it presents in many ways, we usually break it down into five subtypes of anxiety disorder.

When you live with generalized anxiety, you worry chronically, uncontrollably, and disproportionately about everyday things or minor events such as work or your performance at school. People who suffer from this disorder tend to imagine imminent catastrophes when the reality is these issues are a part of life for most.

Social anxiety creates feelings of intense persistent fear in one or more social or performance situations. This could include things like public speaking, eating together with a large group of people or having to meet a stranger. Commonly social anxiety stems from a fear of being judged, ridiculed, embarrassed or humiliated. It goes beyond feeling uncomfortable in a certain situation and will be intense and overwhelming.

My phobia is airplanes, which is difficult for someone who likes to travel. For others its spiders, blood, heights and maybe most commonly needles. For some of my co-workers its speaking on the radio, which is why you get to hear me every week! Specific phobia anxiety is an intense, persistent, and unreasonable fear caused by the anticipation of a specific object or event. Any of these will cause an immediate anxious reaction, which can sometimes be so strong as to cause a panic attack, which is the next type.

Panic attacks can occur anywhere, at any time. It is a sudden, acute fear where you feel like a catastrophe is just around the corner, in turn prompting physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, etc. However, for this to qualify as "panic disorder", the attacks must be recurrent, unexpected, and accompanied by persistent fear, worry about having more panic attacks, or dread of their consequences, such as a fear of losing control.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was a strong possibility. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. A fear or anxiety triggered when you are exposed to or anticipate being exposed to) certain situations. These are primarily places where it would be hard to escape or get help if you experienced panic symptoms, for example, public transportation, movie theatres, crowds, line-ups, bridges or any place where you're alone outside your home. You will tend to avoid these situations as much as possible.

To further complicate deciphering anxiety, mental health issues and mood disorders such as depression can often cause or induce anxiety. It is a good idea to find help when you are suffering from something more than a passing wave of anxiety. We've all experienced the fluttering heart and nervous spike that occurs when we have to do something we're not comfortable with - that is natural. These symptoms often arise persistently in people who actually have a problem with anxiety. If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, then you might want to consider seeking medical attention for proper diagnosis and to discuss possible treatment options. You do not want to be distracted from functioning at your highest level because you are worried about what could happen.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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