By Terrie Johnson | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Anxiety is a mental health state frequently experienced by people all over the world. This is true regardless of their age, gender, cultural background, or religious affiliation. According to Medline Plus in the NIH National Library of Medicine, when experienced, anxiety is the feeling of fear, distress, concern, and panic. As such, anxiety is not only experienced psychologically but also physically. When people are anxious, they perspire excessively, their heart rate increases, and their muscles are tense. However, when it emerges, anxiety is most frequently the body’s response to a stressful event, thought, or encounter. Yet, whenever it happens, it is the body’s ways of coping with overwhelming difficulties that can temporarily cause other disorders.
When anxiety reaches extreme extents, it contributes to the development of anxiety disorder, phobias, or panic attacks. This is evident by increased breathing, feeling as if a heart attack is occurring, and being overwhelmed with weakness. Anxiety reaches levels of this concern when people have mounting challenges related to relationships, school, work, health, or money. Medline Plus states the difference in the two disorders is the length of time the stress persists. Typically, stress sustained for over six months daily contributes to the development of disorders. However, when phobias are experienced, it is often the result of being afraid of things that will cause minimal to no danger. Most often, this is related to things like spiders and snakes, heights, tight spaces, or social environments. Yet, the threat is not as real as the fear that accompanies it.
As a way to positively address problems with anxiety, cognitive behavior therapy is the most effective recommendation. This psychological approach refers to the integration of teaching people to think different to change how they act. When people are trained to react with confidence and assurance, they can prevent being afraid and being overtaken with fear. Another step people can take is towards eliminating anxiety is to avoid triggers. This means talking about bothersome subjects and eliminating aspects of life that provoke fear. Lastly, people can seek psychiatric treatment. This means being prescribed antidepressants to reduce symptoms, increase productivity, and promote a sense of normalcy. Yet, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can be just as advantageous as well.
Medline Plus. (2020). Anxiety. NIH National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov
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