Anxiety Q & A
by Dr. Brady, Psy.D
What is anxiety?
We all feel a little anxious at times. The intense sensation you feel when you go on a job interview, for example, or the feeling you have when you give a speech in front of others is anxiety in its mild form. For some people, it’s a fear that becomes overwhelming even when dealing with everyday situations like going to the grocery store or answering the phone.
For people with an anxiety disorder, the fear is out of proportion with the risk. They may imagine being attacked while at the grocery store or people laughing at them on the subway. The actual chance of those things happening is slim, but the fear it might prevent them from taking the chance.
What causes anxiety?
As with most disorders of this type, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific underlying cause, but there are risk factors such as:
- Serious illness
- Stress that is building up
Certain personality types are prone to anxiety issues, as well. Anxiety often goes hand in hand with other mental health problems like depression, too.
Why is anxiety a problem?
Normal anxiety is not really a problem, but in its extreme form, it becomes disabling. Doing even little things leads to a panic attack, so you might end up homebound and unable to work. There is a physical response to extreme stress that can affect your health, as well. Untreated anxiety disorders can lead to:
- Bowel or digestive problems
- Chronic migraines
What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?
The key to understanding extreme anxiety is to filter out normal stress from the equation. It is perfectly normal to feel some anxiety, even daily. You might be anxious about a work assignment, for example. That’s a normal response to a challenge ahead of you.
Extreme anxiety is characterized by a greater, more persistent fear, one that may actually prevent you from trying anything. Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trembling or shaking
- Constant worry
- Obsessing about daily tasks
- Persistent feeling of danger or doom
- Chest pain not tied to a heart problem
With proper counseling, you can learn to manage those feelings of panic and start living life without that constant fear.