Sometimes we find ourselves triggered by even the most mundane and sometimes the most irrelevant words and actions. These triggers cause alterations in our mood, sometimes cause us to worry and sometimes even cause us dire unease in the pits of our stomachs. That is what the feeling of anxiety is all about. The restlessness and the discomfort and the disturbance one feels in one’s own skin and one’s own thoughts.
While Anxiety and Stress go hand in hand with one another, they also do differ between one another. While stress is the action or thought caused due to the signals of the brain that later spread through one’s nervous system, anxiety is the feeling of worry or fear that can be caused by stress but does not necessarily have to be so either.
With the popularity and seriousness of mental health and mental health problems increasing, in the world of today affected by competition and with almost everyone undergoing some or the other kind of stress, it is only all too important as well as necessary to understand and talk about stress and anxiety.
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Anxiety, it is a word that is almost used colloquially in today’s world and most often in order to justify one’s emotions, feelings and even outbursts. Anxiety is most often associated with stress and feelings of unease, discomfort, extreme nervousness, worry and an indescribable fear, usually in the pit of the stomach or can also be called as a ‘gut feeling.’
Although it is considered as a mental health condition or problem, it is not always so. Anxiety or stress, a limit to which it is felt, is always safe. In fact, in some ways, the feeling of anxiety and stress up to a certain point is even considered healthy since it can motivate or drive you to do certain things or complete certain tasks. A good example of this is the anxiety or stress that a student feels during his or her exams which motivates the individual to study harder in order to avoid failure.
Then why and when does anxiety become a mental health condition or disorder? This must be something many of you are keen to understand.
Anxiety is a response that one feels to the rush of the adrenaline hormone of the body which responds in two manners to any kind of situation, fight or flight. That is exactly what it is all about as well. It is about that fear or that worry that leaves you either wanting to run away or stay put and face the music. But when these feelings of fear, worry, discomfort, unease and extreme nervousness prolong for days together and are in extreme, then we need to understand that it is no more healthy to adhere to this feeling since it has now become a disorder or a problem in one’s mental health and mental well being.
An anxiety disorder is all about that particular feeling of distress, unease and an intimidating fear that remains with an individual for a prolonged period of time, sometimes even at all time at a very intense level. An individual’s mental health takes just as much priority as an individual’s physical health. Treating this disorder is just as equal to as well as just as real as treating a fever.
An anxiety disorder is an emotional disorder that disrupts emotions, feelings and reactions of individuals. Any and every individual is prone and likely to fall into the hands of anxiety at any point in their lives, just sometimes at different levels and different types. Anxiety disorders have no time period and no age barriers. It can be seen in any and every individual at any point in their lives.
Which is why, when it is left untreated and undiagnosed, especially at early stages, just like any cancerous disease, anxiety disorders can get worse and worse through the years. Thus, it is very essential and very important to get treated for anxiety conditions.
All about Anxiety Disorders
An anxiety disorder is caused by extreme cases of anxiety that lasts either all of the time or for prolonged periods of time. An anxiety disorder can also be caused due to different types of anxiety disorders faced by different individuals. Just as the severity of anxiety in an individual differs from person to person, the type and causes of anxiety and its disorders too differ from person to person.
Let us try to understand the different kinds of anxiety disorders that exist in the different cases of different individuals.
The first and one of the most common types of anxiety disorders, especially in today’s generation is the panic disorder. A panic disorder can also be understood as a panic attack or an anxiety attack. A panic disorder or panic attack in plain words can be described as a sudden period of extreme levels of intense fear or intense terror that occurs at unexpected times with characteristics such as rapid heartbeats, sweating, shivering and even breathlessness.
During the episode of a panic attack or panic disorder, an individual also goes through a feeling of imminent doom and danger.
The next type of anxiety disorder is known as phobia or specific phobia disorder. This is a disorder that occurs in almost all individuals regardless of whether it is known to them or not. Specific phobia or phobia disorder is a commonly and well known disorder which from the name itself suggests and can be understood as the irrational fear of something, whether living or non living.
Whether an object, person, animal or situation. Phobias are a very real and existing anxiety disorder that makes an individual completely out of control with his feelings and actions.
Another type of anxiety disorder is social anxiety disorder. This is a disorder or a mental health issue that seems to be apparent in today’s world. With the rise in generations and the contribution of the coronavirus pandemic, social anxiety disorder which is a disorder in which an individual fears judgement in a social setting only seems to becoming a bigger problem. Illness anxiety disorder too is a very real disorder that exists in people who unnecessarily fear being ill or are afraid of their health.
Another kind of anxiety disorder that exists which is well known is PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which occurs as a result of trauma or traumatic incidents that have taken place in the life of an individual. The constant reminder or any triggers to such incidents only worsen the condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another final well known anxiety disorder is the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is the response to the irrational or unrealistic thoughts that occur inside a person’s brain which leads them to act in certain ways, sometimes even repeating the same kind of specific behaviour.
In order to deal with such disorders, one must first acknowledge the existence of the problem in oneself and even get the necessary help that is required to treat such mental health conditions.
Anxiety and its increase within teenagers and young adults
While anxiety and the response to anxiety and anxiety attacks are now more outspoken about and are being better understood, it is still difficult to bring an understanding into the emotion of anxiety, its prevalence and relevance in teenagers. While it is considered normal for adults to go through anxiety and its phases, it seems to be rather appalling for a teenager or a young adult to go through this.
Adults seem to believe that their responsibilities and the pressures that they feel is only too natural at that age since there is a lot more for them to carry on their shoulders than a teenager or a college going young adult. But with the rise in generations of today’s world, the challenge of anxiety seems to be only too real and much more prevalent in teenagers and young adults. In the recent past, it is seen that there is an increase in the prevalence of anxiety in teenagers and young adults in today’s day and age.
But what are the various reasons and causes for this increase? What are the many aspects that can be explored in order to understand this sudden increase in the anxiety of teenagers and young adults?
The pressures as generations go by only seem to be increasing, especially from a very young age. As the world seems to be progressing and developing, the need to be among this progress and development is based on the system of competition. The idea of competition only seems to be growing in the present world and this only seems to be adversely affecting the increase in anxiety and stress in teenagers and young adults.
With the growing competition, the pressures of today go up as well. Thus, today’s generation feels the heat of these pressures and that sparks the seeds of anxiety in them. Most teenagers and young adults are expected to excel not only in academics, but are also expected to achieve many things at young ages. Many take up volunteering while many take up part time jobs in between their academics in order to prove themselves as worthy candidates for the future.
This sows seeds of unnecessarily high expectations which in turn leads to building up of unnecessary pressures in the minds of these individuals. Hectic schedules and added pressures also disrupt the sleep cycles of teenagers and young adults which further increases their anxiety.
Hormonal changes are a prevalent change that occurs in teenagers and young adults and coping with such sudden and fast paced bodily changes along with several other developments happening in their lives, adjusting to new feelings and changes too adds to the anxiety that is experienced by teenagers and young adults. Along with this, the process of so-called adulting is scary to teenagers and young adults with their brains going through a whirlpool of non-existent pressures when their brains are not yet developed into those of full grown adults who are the age of 30 and above. This further causes anxiety disorders.
Teenagers are individuals who go through a dozen changes, mentally and physically all at the same time and hence feel thrown off guard and confused more than half the time. During this time, they also go through a rebellious phase since they seek attention and understanding so when parents disapprove of their actions and thoughts, this causes them further pressures and become anxiety driven. Peer pressure is an anxiety disorder that needs no words to be explained. It is something everyone goes through and is also one that plays the biggest role in causing the development of anxiety in teenagers and young adults.
Alcoholism and smoking seem to be the biggest coping mechanisms among most people, especially in the cases of those that are anxiety driven. Be it adults, teenagers or young adults. This is so because alcohol and cigarettes provide you with a numbness and a sensation that helps you forget all the pressures and expectations built on oneself, both internally and externally.
Drugs too are a big part of this relief. But what has failed to be understood is that these are only temporary measures of relief and hence, this leads to addiction. What people do not understand and see is that alcohol, smoking as well as drugs only increase anxiety and its effects.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in people. But it is most predominantly found to be in teenagers and young adults. With expectations and pressures building on teenagers and young adults, it is only natural to feel that one is not good enough. Thus these feelings of constant worry and self criticism lead to depression.
Thus depression and anxiety lead to one another which leads to mental health illnesses and mental health concerns in the lives of teenagers and young adults since it is the prime age of vulnerability and the height of emotions, feelings and pressures, both from the individual itself and from the outside world as well.
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Dealing and coping with anxiety
Anxiety seems to be a mental health disorder that is most prevalent and rising in today’s day and age. With mental health as a discipline growing in its realm and the importance of mental well health being understood by people, anxiety disorders are now seeming to be on top of the list along with depression.
Dealing with anxiety is not only about seeking help from a professional. It is first about recognising the problem and first trying to cope with it or deal with it by oneself. Anxiety can be treated or dealt with in different ways. Other than seeking professional help, there are methods that one can try in order to deal with and reduce the overbearing as well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety and stress.
Eating a healthy diet as well as following a regular and proper sleep cycle are the most commonly known and proven beneficial ways to start dealing with anxiety issues. Physical well being and mental well being go together, which is why proper exercise and being physically active is a very important step in coping with anxiety. A daily jog for example is a good and proficient way of dealing with anxiety problems.
For one to treat anxiety conditions, one should be well aware of the type and level of anxiety that one is feeling. A good knowledge of what you are going through and a thorough understanding of whether one needs professional help or not too is a good step to start coping with anxiety issues. Other well known ways in order to reduce anxiety is to avoid alcohol, avoid drugs and cigarettes.
One of the most proven methods as well as beneficial and important methods in dealing with anxiety is stress management and relaxation techniques.
Stress management and relaxation techniques are well known ways to treat anxiety issues. The best ways are meditation and yoga. Along with this compartmentalising one’s thoughts and emotions, time management, identifying triggers and learning to face/fight rather than run away/flight during the rush of one’s adrenaline hormone. Music too is now proven to be a therapeutic method in dealing with anxiety and stress.
Anxiety in limited amounts is known to be essential and healthy as it is a natural as well as vital response that every individual goes through. When the emotion of anxiety starts affecting daily life, it is then that it becomes a disorder and needs to be treated. But every small reaction and trigger that seems to happen out of the blue, is something that should be looked into and taken care of.
Understanding anxiety and its causes and reasons is the first step to dealing with anxiety as a mental health problem. The emotion or response of anxiety even when in limited amounts or more can be dealt with either by the individual itself through various self-help methods such as organisation, yoga and meditation among others or by seeking the help of a professional in the field.
It is important to understand and treat anxiety at any stage, especially with anxiety as a mental health disorder growing more and more concerning as the days pass by, especially with an increase in the level of anxiety in today’s world. Thus, even though anxiety and stress may be forever emotions, they can be kept at bay by following the right steps and it is important to do so.
- What is the difference between anxiety and stress?
Stress in simple terms is the response of the mind to some kind of pressure or threat. While anxiety in plain terms is the building up of stress into intense worry, unease and fear.
- What comes first, is it stress or is it anxiety?
Stress is the first step towards the emotion of anxiety since stress acts as a trigger to forming or increasing worry, fear and discomfort which leads to the development of anxiety in any and every situation.
- What is the 3-3-3 rule of anxiety?
In order to deal with the feeling of anxiety and sudden intense worry and unease, one is always advised to follow the 3-3-3 rule. This rule talks about first stating three things that you see around you, then stating three sounds that you hear and finally moving three parts of your body, namely ankles, fingers and arms due to the feeling of numbness and shortness of breath that one goes through during an anxiety attack.
- What is another useful method in order to deal with anxiety and anxiety attacks?
While going through an anxiety attack, an individual’s mind is usually blank and guided by fear and unease due to the emotions that cloud the brain’s logical thinking ability. Other than the 3-3-3 rule, an individual can follow the 54321 grounding rule of anxiety. This method talks about stating five things that one can see, four things that one is feeling, three things that one can hear, two things that one can smell and finally one thing that one can taste.
- Does genetics play a role in the prevalence of anxiety in an individual’s life?
Just like most disorders, anxiety disorders too are at a risk of running in the family due to genetics. Especially in the case of Generalised Anxiety Disorders (GAD) genetics plays a good and prominent role in the persistence of anxiety in a family.
- What to know about anxiety, Medically reviewed by Dillon Browne, Ph.D. — Written by Adam Felman
- Anxiety Disorders, Mental Health Information
- Everything You Need to Know About Anxiety, Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — Written by Kimberly Holland
- Common Causes of Anxiety in Teens and Young Adults, Paradigm Treatment
- 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder, Siri Kabrick, C.N.P. Behavioral Health, Psychiatry & Psychology