Anxiety is a normal part of living, everyone experiences it at some time, and in fact it directly affects about 15% of our population right this minute.
Anxiety arises from our natural fight or flight response when we believe we are faced with danger. As such it is part of a response by our bodies to prepare us to act quickly and either confront the danger – or to just get out of its way! Sometimes however this response triggers when in fact there is no real danger, just the perception of your not being safe. If this happens occasionally and it doesn’t feel overwhelming and it doesn’t lead you to avoid situations then it may not be compromising your life very much.
For some people anxiety becomes their regular response to everyday living situations and so much of life can become really challenging. For example they may not feel safe in crowds, or may develop obsessive compulsive thought and behaviours, or have panic attacks in public places and may struggle to even leave home. With anxiety it can become difficult to make decisions but easy to ruminate on issues and to engage in worst case scenario thinking to the point of feeling completely overwhelmed.
There are degrees of anxiety and these range from mild to severe. The level of anxiety, your experience, the degree of discomfort or even pain you feel and anxiety’s negative effects on your life will determine how and when you seek help.
How you ‘got’ anxiety will also vary from person to person. You may have a genetic ‘pre-disposition’ towards it. This might lie dormant in you until it is triggered by perhaps an early childhood environment with anxious parents or even through the wear and tear of daily living. With or without your having any pre-disposition, you might find that a major trauma, disease, loss or unfortunate choices you make in life might leave you feeling unsafe and thus you may become anxious about things you would previously have been able to cope with.
There are many individual anxiety diagnoses that seek to more precisely describe an individual experience of anxiety. Most commonly agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety. There are many others. There are also specific phobias such as a fear of spiders, or heights or flying.
Untreated, anxiety, especially if has risen to moderate levels or beyond, can just continue to build, possibly into a crisis and may go on to become depression. Recovery from anxiety is very realistic and achieving this can be approached in a number of ways depending on the severity of your anxiety, where you live, what you want to change and other factors.
There are many ways you get help for anxiety, your doctor for example, or if you are living in Canterbury, NZ, you can contact us on 03 365 9479 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of our staff have their own lived experience of anxiety and people find this helpful because they feel readily understood and our staff are knowledgeable about anxiety and how and where to get help.
For more detailed information about anxiety try these links:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
We all worry. Relationships, deadlines, being on time to an appointment – you name it, there’s plenty in life to worry about. But those with GAD experience persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry that goes on every day, possibly all day. They feel it’s beyond their control and can’t be turned ‘off.’ This exaggerated, unrelenting worrying interferes with every-day living. Physical symptoms can include restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, fatigue and difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
People with GAD often expect the worst, even when there is no good reason for any concern. The excessive worrying is often about health, family, money or work. The worrying is hard to control, and occurs on more days than not for at least six months.
Generalised anxiety disorder can affect all areas of life, including social, work, school and family. According to a national survey conducted by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, seven out of 10 people with GAD agreed that their chronic anxiety had an impact on their relations with spouses/significant others and two thirds reported that GAD had a negative effect on their friendships.
The exact cause of GAD is not known. Scientists believe that biological factors, family background and life experiences are all involved. Stress, even the stress of positive events, such as buying a new house or getting married, can trigger symptoms in individuals predisposed to GAD.
Fortunately, most individuals who seek treatment see significant improvement and enjoy a better quality of life. It is important to remember that there is no single ‘right’ treatment and what works for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. A course of treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. Ask your doctor to explain why a particular type of treatment is being recommended, what other options are available and what you need to do to fully participate in your recovery.
If you’re struggling with worry or you’ve been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, or have good reason to believe that this condition best describes your experience of anxiety, then talk to our peer support team here at MHAPS.