Anxiety is a normal feeling. We all feel anxious in a situation that we find threatening or difficult. The anxiety goes away when we get used to the situation, when the situation changes, or if we just leave.
Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and, perhaps, fearful at the thought of sitting an exam, going into hospital, attending an interview or starting a new job. You may worry about feeling uncomfortable, appearing foolish or how successful you will be. In turn, these worries can affect your sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. If everything goes well, the anxiety will go away.
But if you feel anxious all the time, or for no obvious reason, it can make life difficult.
Triggers and Causes
Anxiety can be triggered by a number of factors. Something distressing may have happened to you in the past, and because you were unable to deal with the emotions at the time, you may become anxious about encountering the situation again, just in case it stirs up the same feelings of distress.
You may worry about the future. Sometimes, if we feel we are not in control of different aspects of our lives, we can start to feel anxious about events beyond our control, for example, death in the family, impending disasters.
Feeling anxious can also be a learned response – something that you picked up early on in life. Your family may have tended to see the world as a hostile and fearful place, for example. Research suggests that people may even inherit a tendency to be more anxious. We all become anxious under pressure, but one person may succumb more easily than another, because of a mixture of personality, current circumstances and childhood experience.
What we put into our bodies can also trigger anxiety. For instance caffeine, excess sugar, poor diet, and drug misuse can significantly change our body’s natural balance.
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Smothering sensations and shortness of breath
- Racing heart, slow heart beat, palpitations
- Chest Pain
- ‘Lump in throat’ and difficulty swallowing
- Blanching (colour loss in the skin)
- Excessive Perspiration (sweating)
- Shaking or shivering (visibly or internally)
- Pain or numbness in the head, face, neck or shoulders
- Rapid gastric emptying
- Indigestion, heartburn, constipation and diarrhoea
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Symptoms of urinary tract infection
- Skin rashes
- Weakness/tingling in arms, hands or feet
- ‘Electric shock’ feelings (anywhere in the body)
- Dry mouth
- Fears of going mad or losing control
- Increased depression and suicidal feelings
- Symptoms like ‘flu’
- Distorted vision
- Disturbed hearing
- Hormone problems
- Headaches and feelings of having a ‘tight band around head’
- Sore eyes
- ‘Creeping’ or ‘pins and needles’ sensations in The skin
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell
- Dramatic increase in sexual feelings
- Pain in the face or jaw (resembling toothache)