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May 14, 2013

Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 1

What is anxiety? In this time of economic strain and significant transition , people are having their fears illuminated. At what point do those fears become anxiety? How does someone interrupt/stop the anxiety when it is happening? What causes anxiety to become more of a steady state beyond an emotional reaction? What triggers a feeling of anxiety versus an anxiety attack? Does someone have to live the rest of their life on medication to “manage” anxiety or can you heal from it? All of these questions will be addressed in this article. The series will be divided into three parts: what is anxiety; what causes it; what are the techniques that prevent or interrupt the anxiety and the treatments to heal.

 

Anxiety is described as the fear of fear. It tends to be vague. As an emotion, we have all experienced it. You are getting ready to go out for the evening and all of a sudden you get this odd, gently disturbing fluttering in your gut or tingling of your skin. You wonder from where the feeling is coming but then keep going and don’t think any more about it as it drifts away and you continue to dress and go to your event. Anxiety can become more consistent for some. That consistency may take the form of a person experiencing anxiety periodically for a limited amount of time or consistently always increasing and decreasing in intensity. There is a significant difference between the experience that everyone has of a brief, intermittent feeling of anxiety or angst and someone who lives with chronic anxiety that can become debilitating.

 

So, how does someone tell the difference between stress and mild anxiety? You don’t need to. Anxiety in a mild form can come about for any number of reasons and does not necessarily have a clear immediate precursor. A person may feel a bit of anxiety and briefly think of their fears of “what if”. They may worry. They may experience the stress due to an upcoming meeting or speech they must do. In all cases, the person returns to their ability to focus on what they are doing and what may need to be done to prepare for ,or prevent the upcoming event. That all describes the everyday stress and anxiety that every human experiences in a lifetime.

 

When a person begins to experience consistent worry and the thoughts consume his or her mind, or when a person’s thinking becomes circular and it keeps him or her from focusing or even interrupts his or her focus, that person has begun to experience anxiety that is mildly disruptive and has the capacity to become significantly disruptive if not understood and corrected. Once anxiety has been felt to be disruptive the person then runs the risk of worrying about experiencing the anxiety again and that is where it all begins. It is the very worry about experiencing the anxiety that can recreate or continue the anxiety. The logical thinking buys into a person’s fears. Consequently, the anxiety thoughts can be believable and the feelings of irritability, fear, doom, destruction that are running through the person become disabling as they increase the fear and cause the person to feel less able to “control” their feelings. It is at this point that the fear-based thoughts and feelings get caught in a loop that prisons the person with dread and fear of some vague scary possibility. This exhausts the person and yet keeps them from sleep. There are many things a person can learn to interrupt the anxiety and there are various treatments as well. A person does not necessarily have to suffer with anxiety. There are techniques and exercises to manage the anxiety that will be discussed in Part 3 and healing options that will also be discussed in Part 3 of this series.

 

Persistent or significant anxiety can take the form of panic attacks, agoraphobia, social phobias, and other specific phobias. It can be Generalized Anxiety when persistent and excessive. It also is the basis to any trauma and, therefore, becomes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Acute Stress Disorder. Then there are numerous other anxieties: separation anxiety withdrawal anxiety, and more.

 

In summary, we discussed the differences between intermittent feelings of anxiety or angst, worry or stress that everyone experiences at some time and the chronic, and often times debilitating, anxiety that some people endure. The chronic anxieties have specific symptoms and descriptions. If you have interest in learning more about any of them, please write to me at AskKristen@KristenBomas.com . Part 2 will address the causes of anxiety. Part 3 will address some techniques for managing anxiety and will address treatments for anxiety. A person does NOT have to suffer with anxiety! I thank you for your interest.

 

Read Part TWO

 

Read Part THREE

 

5 Comments »

  1. Great article! ! I can not wait to read part 2 and 3!

    Comment by Iris Chapman — May 16, 2013 @ 8:38 am

  2. I have had issues with anxiety and just like described in the above description, I never have gotten to the point that I want to try medication, but I was wondering can anxiety affect your memory as in say I’m describing something and I can’t remember a certain word or just be talking like I usually do and can’t remember
    a word I usually would use or a word how I would normally describe something? That’s something I’ve noticed with myself and don’t know if it’s related?

    Thank you, Jaime

    Comment by Jaime Wiersema — May 16, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  3. I just got out of the hospital due to bipolar disorder and anxiety. My anxiety is severe and affects my day to day living. Please be sure to email all of these posts on anxiety. I don’t get on face book much. I have enough triggers in my life.
    God bless anyone going through extreme anxiety!

    Comment by Anita — May 16, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  4. Jaime: YES! Absolutely! Even mild anxiety can eliminate words or names from a person’s mind as they are speaking. It is why the thought or name comes back when you stop “trying to remember”. If you are struggling with anxiety, it can cause a flutter of thoughts or a blank in the mind as you are “trying” to capture the “right” word, name, or thought. If you can, breathe, relax and continue your talking. The forgotten piece of information will come to you midst another, possibly unrelated, topic.

    Comment by Kristen Bomas — May 16, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  5. So true! Breathing exercises when I felt an attack approaching used to be enough but I’ve recently broken down & tried Xanax when my life became too stressful. It helped wonders. This past week I’ve cut out the medication entirely since making myself get out of the house & have fun with friends & family. The medication just gave me that little push I needed to get out of the door 🙂 This is a great article & I look forward to reading Parts 2 & 3!

    Comment by Crystal — May 18, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

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