Anxiety is described as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. While the majority of individuals will experience anxiety at some point in their life, some may experience anxiety frequently at a more intense level. Through overthinking and overanalyzing, those with anxiety will constantly fret over multiple situations, oftentimes being irrational.
The difference between being anxious about a specific event such as a public speech, a first date, or a test, and being anxious over nearly everything is that when one experiences severe anxiety, their entire life can bring them unease.
While anxiety is an umbrella term, some may not know the different forms of anxiety disorders.
Separation anxiety is described as inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those to whom the individual is attached. Regardless as to why someone is excessively attached to a specific individual, it can become a disorder if the individual has recurrent excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation from home, excessive worry over losing someone from illness, injury, disasters, or even death. Some may even struggle to leave their house due to fear of being away from someone.
Another form of anxiety can be a specific phobia where one experiences anxiety over a specific object or situation.
Social anxiety disorder is the fear of one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. This can include the fear of having a conversation with unfamiliar people or performing in front of others.
Panic disorder is when one experiences recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is known as an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes (symptoms may include sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, etc).
Perhaps the most well-known anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder which is excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not about a number of events or activities. This anxiety is difficult to control and can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbance, etc.
When I was younger, my anxiety was rooted in bullying. After attending schools and being bullied by other students, I began being home schooled for a few years and was terrified to reenter a physical school afterward. This caused me to keep to myself and limit my socialization in fear of once again being bullied. As I have grown older and made friends, this fear has decreased dramatically. Although some days I do fear being around others I do not know well, I am able to control it better and conquer my fears. Though this anxiety has decreased, I still suffer from other forms of anxiety. Some days I become stressed over irrational fears and am unable to focus on anything else. Some nights I find it challenging to sleep due to thoughts racing through my head and tormenting me. The anxiety can get so intense that I may experience a panic attack that is difficult to stop.
Although I still struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, I have found healthy ways to cope and clear my mind of these irrational worries. By speaking with someone who I am close to, such as a family member or friend, they are able to reassure me and let me know that these worries are over situations that are unlikely to occur. They are aware of the severity of anxiety and therefore do not undermine my feelings but do aid in reassuring me so that I can calm down.
Some ways to deal with a panic attack include deep breathing and focusing on an object. A calm way to focus is to look around and see five things, touch four things, hear three things, smell two things, and taste one thing. This can help one get out of a panic attack and focus on what is around them and slow one’s mind. It is also valuable to know that everything will be okay and having someone tell you this can greatly aid in calming down. The majority of the fears that one experiences when suffering from an anxiety disorder are oftentimes unlikely and therefore it is important to set these fears to rest and focus on other things. By talking with someone, watching TV, listening to music, going for a walk, doing chores, etc, one can get their mind off of their worries and stabilize.
Everyone experiences anxiety now and again and it can be perfectly natural. However, if the anxiety remains constant and controls your life, it might be wise to seek help. Anxiety doesn’t have to control your life, help can greatly reduce the anxiety one may suffer from. It is useful to realize that the anxiety is temporary and oftentimes over an outcome that has a very low probability of occurring. Anxiety can be a serious issue for many and it is also valuable to understand that if you have a loved one who suffers from anxiety. Do not undermine their state but rather provide the support they need whether that be addressing the issue or helping to get their mind off of their worries.