While generally associated with constant worriers, anxiety doesn’t discriminate – it can affect everyone at some stage. Whenever the word anxiety is mentioned, most everyone can relate to the feeling – insomnia, rapid heart rate, muscle tension and inability to concentrate, to name a few.
We’ve all felt anxious before an exam or job interview, however, when anxiety becomes somewhat of a “default state” and interferes with your everyday life, it can be debilitating. Anxiety takes many forms, but the important thing to remember is it is treatable.
Generalised Anxiety – Anxiety is the body’s response to difficult or dangerous circumstances. It is a generalised, unfocused feeling of fear, worry and unease, which is generally an overreaction to a subjectively unpleasant situation. Accompanied by muscle tension, restlessness and lapses in concentration, anxiety can be a helpful response if it spurs you into action. Physically, it engages a ‘fight or flight’ response, while psychologically, it keeps you alert and gives you the wherewithal to deal with problems. However, when experienced regularly, anxiety is debilitating – it disrupts your work, social life and overall participation in life.
Hereditary Anxiety – A recent landmark study has shown evidence that anxiety may be an inherited trait from parents. Research has found that the brain structure that accompanies psychological conditions like anxiety and depression are passed down through the generations. The researchers discovered that about 30 percent of the variation in early anxiety could be attributed to family history, while a further 35 percent attributed to inherited genes. Through the research, they found the regions of the brain activated during stressful situations were much more active in chronic anxiety sufferers. And that this overactivity is solely inherited from parents.
Organic Anxiety – Organic anxiety features all the trademark symptoms of anxiety, however, its cause stems from a physical or neurological condition, rather than outside circumstances. It typically manifests itself as extreme worry over major or minor issues due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Those who suffer the condition usually have a list of worries on their minds preventing them from functioning effectively. Symptoms include:
- Exaggerated worry
- Frequent headaches
- Trouble falling asleep and;
- Being startled easily
Phobia-related Anxiety – This variant of anxiety relates to a specific circumstance or thing that the individual afraid of. Phobias relate to something that is not actually dangerous and which most people are not troubled by. The closer you get to the source of your phobia-related anxiety, the more anxious you become. However, when away from the troublesome stimulus, you function perfectly well. This type of anxiety can stem from genes, psychological problems, trauma, abuse and neglect. Two of the most common phobias are:
- Agoraphobia – fear of leaving one’s home and;
- Social Phobias – fear of being around other people
It is important to remember there is quality help for those suffering any of the aforementioned anxieties. Through a wide array of treatment options, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, relaxation techniques, dietary changes, exercise and structured problem solving, among others, you can overcome your anxiety.