GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Condition updated on October 18th, 2018


What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling that everyone gets at some point or another in their lives. It can create feelings of nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. For many people anxiety is a chronic condition. When anxiety affects a person on a regular basis it is considered an anxiety disorder.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders. Some examples are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias. There is also post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder. Each of these disorders has different effects on the affected person.

While each type of anxiety disorder has unique properties, there are common symptoms, like chest pains, irritability, and low self-esteem.

Symptoms Of Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Each person has different symptoms and triggers for their anxiety. Anxiety can manifest in many different ways. It can cause both mental and physical symptoms.

Mental symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Nervousness
  • Intense and irrational fear
  • Negative self-talk
  • Panic
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep issues

Physiological symptoms include:

  • Crying
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweaty palms
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations

What Causes Anxiety?

The specific causes of anxiety will be different for each person. The cause will depend on the type of anxiety the affected person is experiencing. It will also depend on the circumstances under which they developed anxiety.

For example, a person with post-traumatic stress disorder may develop anxiety symptoms as a result of a traumatic event. Meanwhile, a person with social anxiety may only feel anxious when around people.

Despite the reason for the onset, there are risk factors associated with anxiety. Some of those risk factors include:

  • Genetics. Anxiety runs in families. If a person has a family member with anxiety or a mood disorder, they may develop anxiety as well.
  • Upbringing. A person may develop anxiety if they were raised with disciplinarians as parents. They may also develop anxiety if they were exposed to criticism or chaos as a child. Having critical parents, unruly siblings or an unstable home could cause anxiety.
  • History of Abuse. Being a victim of bullying, violence or abuse as children or adults increases the risk of developing anxiety.
  • Self-image. Self-image plays a big role in anxiety. If a person sees themselves as weak, or if they have low self-esteem, they will likely have a high level of anxiety.

Treatment for Anxiety

It is important to seek proper treatment for anxiety disorders. Treatment helps a person learn how to cope with their symptoms. If an anxiety disorder is not addressed it could lead to more serious consequences. Some consequences include:

  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Relationship issues
  • Academic or work performance issues.

Anxiety can cause muscle tension, headaches, and hypertension. It can also affect the immune system, causing someone who is sick to have a hard time getting better.
Fortunately, there are many therapeutic approaches that can help a person learn to manage anxiety. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are particularly effective in reducing negative self-talk. It also decreases symptoms and helps the patient learn how to stay in control of their thoughts and emotions.

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