What is anxiety? Anxiety can describe several disorders that include symptoms of nervousness, a general sense of apprehension, intense fear, and excessive worry. Not all anxiety is bad, however. Anxiety is a natural part of being human and it serves an important purpose and is a perfectly normal response to most of life’s stresses.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes so excessive or overwhelming that a person is unable to function. This is when we can say that a person suffers from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can occur on their own, but in many cases, they can appear concurrently along with other disorders.
Some examples of anxiety disorders include:
General Anxiety Disorder: this is a constant state of anxiety that is not provoked by a specific factor or event.
Social Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves strong apprehension triggered by interactions with others or a social situation.
Panic Disorder: This disorder involves sudden and repeated fear that arises without warning.
Phobias: a disorder that involves fear of a specific object or a situation.
What are the symptoms of anxiety? There are various physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive signs of the presence of anxiety or an anxiety disorder. Each person will experience these symptoms in different combinations or orders. A person who suffers from several of these symptoms on a recurring basis can be diagnosed with anxiety.
-Chest pain or tightening
-Headaches and other body aches
-Sweating or flushing of the skin
-Sudden weakness of the muscles
-Feelings of irritability
-General sense of unease or restlessness
-Unexplained feelings of dread
-Withdrawing from certain situations or isolating oneself
-Having repetitive thoughts of certain situations or dangers
-Obsessing over fears and possible dangers
The Origins of Anxiety
There are many environmental, genetic, physiological, neurological, and other factors that can contribute to the development of anxiety or a related disorder. It is a combination of the factors that make up the origins of anxiety in each individual case. Every person will have different factors that contribute to their anxiety. Substance abuse and eating disorders occur alongside anxiety in many cases. Other common factors include:
-Experiencing a traumatic event
-Stress associated with relationships
-Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol
-A genetic predisposition to anxiety
Anxiety and its associated disorders have a destructive effect on the quality of a person’s life. When it co-occurs with another disorder, anxiety can have an especially harmful effect. Eating disorders and anxiety often go hand in hand. Many experts believe that in the majority of cases, anxiety leads to the development of an eating disorder. Over time, an eating disorder becomes a method for coping with the symptoms of fear, apprehension, and worry that occur with an anxiety disorder.
An individual struggling with anxiety will also struggle to maintain some sense of control over their life. Controlling food, body weight, and exercising become coping methods for anxiety. Soon enough, they will develop a full-blown eating disorder.
The behaviors associated with an eating disorder such as anorexia can give an individual a false sense of having power or control over their life. The temporary relief that the eating disorder behaviors provide encourages continued unhealthy behavior surrounding food and weight.
Because of this, it is important to treat both anxiety and an eating disorder in recovery.