Anxiety is a common occurrence – most people experience it before or after stressful situations, like a big presentation or a traumatic event. If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, your anxiety is much more than occasional nervousness and fear.
Anxiety is a feeling much like fear, but comes in response to a perceived, anticipated or imagined danger or threat, rather than a tangible, immediate threat. Anxiety takes many forms, and a limited amount of anxiety is a normal part of everyday life. You might feel anxious at the thought of heights, crowds or small spaces. Or, you might feel anxiety because you worry endlessly about your work, health or safety.
Anxiety represents a continuum that includes occasional symptoms of distress to a life consuming disability. Most people who suffer from anxiety fall somewhere in the middle.
Anxiety attacks and disorders can be particularly frightening because overwhelming fear and worry can monopolize your thoughts and make life seem unlivable. Left untreated, anxiety disorders can cause:
- isolation and social withdrawal
- disruption to everyday life (difficulty completing normal tasks like bathing, cooking, cleaning, going outside)
- an inability to work
- a sense of hopelessness and despair
Fortunately, anxiety symptoms, disorders and attacks are treatable and you can do many things to control and reduce the anxiety in your life. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) reports that “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable [with psychosocial therapies, medication or both], yet only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.” Although the triggers and physical symptoms of anxiety disorders and panic attacks are different, you can actively reduce and control anxiety in your life by making different lifestyle choices and working with a therapist to change your patterns of thinking.