What is Anxiety and What are the Symptoms?
At some point in your life, you’ve more than likely experienced anxiety. In fact, in the UK, 5% of the population suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Therefore, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in your suffering.
Whether you’ve been facing it for a number of years and have recently developed new symptoms, or you have started to experience spells of anxiety, this article should provide you with an overview of anxiety and what to do when experiencing it.
As a counsellor for anxiety, I have heard many stories. A sudden panic attack, feeling unable to go out and socialise, and ruminating thoughts, are just some of the symptoms associated with anxiety. Of course, everyone can experience it differently. The good news is there are ways to help ease the symptoms, and, if you’re somebody diagnosed with GAD, there is help available in the form of medication and therapy/counselling.
Before we move on to discussing how anxiety presents itself and what can be done to help, we’re going to take a look at what it is at its core and the most common symptoms.
It can be described as a feeling of discomfort, fear, and worry. While everyone feels anxious occasionally, some people are more prone. This can result from trauma, genetics, environmental factors, and even hormones during the perimenopause and menopause phases.
Anxiety can also be a mental health disorder if it is continuous in its nature. Anybody can experience it, including both children and adults. In some cases, it is a completely normal feeling, especially during stressful periods such as exams, work, and loss.
How Genetic is Anxiety?
Though most medical researchers aren’t entirely certain about what causes anxiety in general, it is believed that it is mainly genetic. This means that if one or more of your parents has suffered GAD throughout their lifetime, you are more likely to be at risk of developing it yourself. There are a number of factors that may make you more likely to develop this disorder:
- You have traumatic life experiences;
- You have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition;
- Your biological parents or other relatives have been diagnosed with GAD or other mental health disorders.
So, while anxiety can certainly be a genetic disorder, it is also largely due to environmental factors.
What Is General Anxiety Disorder?
People diagnosed with general anxiety disorder (GAD) suffer from perpetual worrying about things others wouldn’t necessarily worry about. Different from general anxiousness and fear, GAD presents itself as continuous, and anxiety can often become the default emotion for the person to feel.
The person with GAD understands that their anxiety can often come across to others as irrational; however, they cannot control it. They find it hard to articulate their worries, which can cause issues in multiple areas of their lives when not treated.
Those with GAD will experience both physical and mental symptoms, including:
- Feeling threatened when there is no real threat
- Inability to let worries go
- Issues with concentration
- Trouble getting a good night’s sleep
- Not being able to stay calm during uncertainty
- Fatigue throughout the day
- Stomachaches, diarrhoea, headaches
- Tension in muscles
- Feeling shaky and weak for no reason
- Heart palpitations
- Increase heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Startling easily
- Sweaty palms
Is Anxiety Always a Bad Thing?
The answer is no! Anxiety It is not always a bad thing. It’s part of our natural evolutionary response to perceived threats known as ‘fight or flight’. This is when we must choose between facing a situation head-on or fleeing from it altogether if it is too much to handle. You may experience the fight or flight response during times of stress, such as during adrenaline-fuelled activities.
With this said, when anxiety is a constant battle, it is, of course, a problem that you should seek treatment for.
Anxiety as a Mental Disorder
While it is not always beneficial to apply labels to mental health conditions, anxiety, if untreated, is classified as a mental health disorder. As the most common mental health disorder, it is believed that around 30% of people are affected by anxiety during their adult life.
You may be diagnosed with this disorder when your anxiety is debilitating and is causing you problems across various areas of your life.
Seeking Help for an Anxiety Disorder
The good news is that there is a lot of help available for those who suffer from or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by their GP. Thankfully today, there is far less stigma attached to mental health disorders in general and there are appropriate treatments.
The two main treatment options are psychotherapy and medication. Many people with this disorder find that they benefit from a combination of the two.
At Donna Morgan Counselling, I offer therapy and counselling for those that suffer from stress and anxiety. Whether you can only attend online or you’d prefer face-to-face counselling in Surrey, my services are just a phone call away.
A proactive therapy approach gives you control back over your life and allows you to reduce your anxiety’s impact. Get in contact with me today!