Symptoms of anxiety
These are not always specific and one person could have only one symptom, whereas others might have a wider range of them. They include trembling, pounding of the heart, racing thoughts, profuse sweating, breathlessness, dizziness and insomnia, to name but a few.
Causes of anxiety
The human brain has what is known as the limbic system, which is primarily responsible for all emotions. The amygdala is situated in this area of the brain and is responsible for processing emotions related to survival such as fear and anger. The amygdala is usually larger in people with anxiety and activates more readily than in people without anxiety.
Anxiety normally begins in early childhood and starts off as a type of separation anxiety which with the passing of time can morph into other types of anxiety.
Anxiety can be the result of any of these causes:
Stress causing elements can develop from any situation that could involve a person’s job, school, personal relationships or financial problems; even low oxygen levels – in cases of individuals living in high altitudes – can all contribute toward raising anxiety levels. Events around the world cause some people extreme anxiety, especially when they are viewed on television or through very graphic photos in magazines or on the Internet. Environmental pollutants, the electromagnetic field and toxins in food are also contributing factors.
Genetics or temperament:
The likelihood increases if other family members have anxiety disorders and temperament does also play a role.
Certain medical conditions, trauma, traumatic stress disorder, underlying medical conditions that require lifestyle adjustments and side effects from some medications can all cause anxiety.
If fear and discomfort are activated within the brain at an early age then there is a higher likelihood of anxiety later on in life. There are three types of variables in this category that contribute to anxiety:
Parental /Caregiver: It is important for children to have a comforting, soothing environment until at least the age of 14 as the frontal lobe of the brain is being developed. Abuse, postpartum depression, insensitive care, substance abuse, huge age gaps (caregiver could be the grandmother), desertion and prolonged absences are all contributing factors.
Children who are born prematurely, those with pain caused by medical conditions such as colic, children who have to endure long hospitalizations; those dealing with separation and loss are all more prone to anxiety. Issues might also arise when children have a difficult temperament, don’t fit in with their parents or family, do not thrive normally, have some form of handicap because of congenital or biological problems or have genetically inherited depression, aggression or mental illness.
Children affected by environmental contributions could have been raised under conditions of extreme poverty, perhaps been victims of or witnessed violence, have been placed in many homes and not been offered the necessary support, have had no stimulation or perhaps lived within a community or home that is highly stressed.
The structure of the brain can be altered after a stressful or traumatic experience. This alteration could cause the brain to react differently toward triggers than it might have previously. This causes disruption to the hormones and can trigger an electrical signal in the brain-often called a chemical imbalance- which leads to anxiety and mood disorders.
Substance abuse and even attempts to stop the substance abuse can combine with the daily stress of trying to keep within a family or work routine, leading to raised anxiety levels.
In order to alleviate anxiety, it needs to be recognized as such. The truth is that most people do not even realize that they are anxious. There are many types of anxiety, each linked to different thoughts and feelings:
Performance Anxiety: The need to perform well as parents, perform well at work and setting examples as an employer can all lead individuals to have performance anxiety. All humans crave positive feedback and for some individuals it might never be enough, while in other situations it might not be forthcoming.
Status Anxiety: When people compare each other, especially in a material way, they may end up feeling that they can’t ever achieve a similar level of success. Social markers such as income levels, types of vacations and home size are classical examples of this type of anxiety trigger.
Existential Anxiety: Many people grapple with how others perceive them and how they see themselves. This type of anxiety is especially prevalent in people with leading positions.
Social Anxiety: All people need to feel that they are liked by those whom they love or work with. Most humans have the need to live within a community and it can be devastating to be disliked, excluded or bullied.
Death Anxiety: The fear of death or the dying process is a deep rooted form of anxiety which also encompasses the fear of losing a loved one and the fear of separation.
Defense against anxiety
Since any of the above types of anxiety often show up in the course of daily life, it is important for individuals to know that they are unavoidable and to learn ways manage them effectively.
Everyone needs to learn how to notice anxiety within themselves and in others. The ability to learn acceptance and the fact that all human actions are actually a defense against anxiety is a good starting point. There are various defenses people use against anxiety and some are definitely worse than others.
Often people don’t realize that they are defending themselves against anxiety. Hitting the bottle, rage and anger are ways that people reach out unknowingly for emotional support.
How to beat anxiety?
Whereas CBD cannabidiol is clearly one of the least addictive treatments, without side-effects, there are many holistic issues to consider when dealing with anxiety. The first way to start tackling anxiety is for an individual to start recognizing the first signs of its presence. Anxiety drives most behavior and often goes unnoticed by most.
There are many ways to alleviate anxiety and when asking people how they do it one can get hundreds of responses. Meditation, prayer and laughter come high on the list, so do exercise, singing and medication.
The following list of actions are well known measures against anxiety:
There are two types of methods that most people usually choose from:
- Internal anxiety beating methods
- Prayer and meditation are of the most effective calming methods, but many people need to master the art of doing them correctly. The idea is to become completely absorbed by only that and to stop all other thoughts.
- Breathing in and out slowly for 3 minutes.
- Gentle neck rolling with lowered shoulders.
- Speak about your emotions loudly to yourself.
- A hand massage helps release oxytocin (a hormone that influences social interaction).
- Visualization, distraction and breathing techniques are quite popular and there is a huge variety to choose from. The concept is to stop thinking completely before visualizing something and allowing you to be lost in the vision, all the time breathing correctly.
- Listening to music, dancing, playing an instrument or fidgeting all have a soothing and calming effect. Drumming and tapping assist many people to relieve anxiety and Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT) or Thought Field Therapy (TFT) encourages the tapping of specific acupressure points in a soothing pattern.
- Energy Medicine uses various techniques from other healing methods to help the body to activate its natural healing energies and to restore itself. These include acupuncture, yoga and kinesiology.
- Art in any form allows a feeling of calm to replace anxiety.
- Humor is a timeless, effective and universally accepted stress reliever which replaces anxiety with a feeling of calmness.
- Heart Rate Breathing is a method worth looking into. It is easy to learn but requires an external device to allow for proper feedback.
- Hypnosis is an effective technique but needs to be learnt properly from a certified hypnotherapist.
- All forms of exercise have a calming effect on the brain. These can include active sports or recreational activities such as walks, golf and yoga. Eastern disciplines like Ti Chi, Reiki and Qi Gong are extremely popular and calming.
- External Methods
These methods are more demanding as they don’t only require self application but include people or machinery to aid in the calming method:
- Nutrition and eating correctly is a basic requirement for everyone’s well being. It is important to eat correctly while avoiding sugar, alcohol and recreational drugs. Good nutrition requires planning and effort, but is well worth it.
- Medications can be used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Response to medication is not the same in everyone and care needs to be taken when purchasing over the counter treatments. Possible side effects should be discussed with a medical professional or pharmacist. The same applies to natural and homeopathic remedies since they also can produce side effects if not taken in correct dosages or when used in combination with prescribed medications.
- Acupuncture is an ancient, proven treatment for relieving anxiety
- Psychologists and psychiatrists are specially trained to lead patients through relieving talk therapy sessions. This effectively helps to lessen anxiety through assisting the thought process. Social workers and family councilors are also trained to be good listeners while also giving advice and assistance.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is also a form of talk therapy. Dr. Francine Shapiro developed this integrative eight-phase approach that helps disconnect the emotional and physical reaction to a traumatic event. This therapy can only be done by a specially trained health professional.
- Sound, aroma and light therapies all help to soothe the Limbic System within the brain.
- Biofeedback allows for observation of inner responses through a computer screen. This includes thermal, muscular and neuro-feedback (EEG) and is like looking through a mirror of the soul allowing for a positive influence to the brain function. There are various methods available and all help effectively alleviate the symptoms and cause of anxiety.
- Other effective external methods include outings with loving friends or family and a relaxing vacation.
All of the above methods are effective and there are many more that can still be added to the lists above. When feelings of anxiety threaten to overpower all other thoughts and make the day unbearable taking a step back and doing something else for a while is recommended.
All humans need to learn to forgive, firstly themselves and to know that not all things can be foreseen. Mistakes can be made by even the most perfect person. There will be times where other people’s behavior may cause added anxiety and it is fine to make them aware of that. Where possible, avoidance of stressful situations is often a wise choice.
Everybody has higher expectations for themselves, it is human trait after all, understanding that there is a real self and an ideal self can alleviate anxiety. Positive thoughts are a great way to get rid of anxiety and allow for savoring chores and life in general.