Fear and anxiety are emotions hard-wired into our brains to help us detect threat or danger. Unfortunately, the fear system can become overactive, making us feel fearful or anxious when threat or danger is only perceived. This can manifest itself in many ways. For example, fear and anxiety can be generalized, or unspecific, as evidenced by:
- Constant worry about potentially detrimental events or circumstances across domains, such as work, family, heath, etc.
- Physical symptoms associated with worry like restlessness or feeling on edge, fatigue, mind going blank or difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, and difficulty falling or staying asleep
On the other hand, fear and anxiety can be specific to certain circumstances or objects. For example:
- Fear of heights, flying, bugs, etc.
- Fear of scrutiny in a social setting
- Fear of crowded or enclosed places in which it would be difficult to escape (e.g., subways, movie theaters, elevators)
- Separation anxiety
In some cases, people with anxiety experience panic attacks, either as cued by fear or seemingly “out of the blue”. In the latter case, panic attacks themselves can become feared.
Did You Know?*
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States aged 18 years and older (18% of U.S. population).
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
- Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Reference: Anxiety and Depression Association of America
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders can take many forms, but all involve an intense, exaggerated, and irrational fear, terror, or feeling of dread and physical symptoms of a “fight or flight” response including sweating, trembling, heart palpitations, nausea, chest pains, or a sensation that one is choking.
Some of the most common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Persistent and excessive worry about everyday life events.
- Panic Disorder: A sudden feeling of terror that comes on without warning, or in response to a feared object or situation.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A disabling condition in which the sufferer is plagued with recurring intrusive and unwanted thoughts and/or compelling urges to engage in repetitive behaviors or mental acts.
- Social Anxiety: Excessive fear and anxiety over being scrutinized in social situations.
- Specific Phobia: Intense anxiety and physical symptoms in response to specific objects or situations; the anxiety is out of proportion to actual threat or danger.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. People with PTSD often have lasting and frightening intrusive thoughts and memories of the event that impair their ability to function in daily life.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Recurrent thoughts and worries that interfere with general well-being
- Constant feelings of being overwhelmed
- Racing heart, sweaty palms, upset stomach, etc.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension or unexplained body aches
- Increase or decrease in appetite while feeling stressed or anxious
- Inability to go to sleep or stay asleep
- Driving urge to put your worries at ease (constant Internet searches about your worry or fear, talking excessively to friends/family about your worry or fear)
- Continuously asking ‘what if’ or always looking at the negative despite the existence of alternative explanations
Stress does not have to take over your life. To make a change, make an appointment today.
If you or someone you know suffers from fear and anxiety, we can help. Beverly Hills Therapy Group employs a team of counselors who specialize in anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD). Nobody should have to suffer through anxiety alone – get relief through professional counseling.