What is Anxiety and When Does it Become a Problem?

Noun: 1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
2. Desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease


Anxiety (also called angst or worry) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is ‘to vex or trouble’; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to a stressor. It may help someone to deal with a difficult situation by prompting them to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, out of proportion to the stressor, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder, according to Wikipedia.

Speaking before a Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program ® gathering, Cathy Frank, MD, said that when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it becomes an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders affect about 50 million American adults.

Dr. Frank said that common predisposing factors for anxiety include:

* prior anxiety or depressive episodes
* family history of anxiety disorders
* severe or unanticipated stress
* chronic illness
* female gender
*certain medications or medical disorders

There are six anxiety disorders:
*Panic disorder affects 6 million adults
* Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 7 million adults
*Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million adults
* Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects around 8 million adults
*Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects around 2 million adults
* Phobic Disorder affects around 20 million adults

Anxiety disorders can be treated by psychotherapy or medications, predominantly antidepressants.

Dr. Frank said that it is possible to prevent anxiety disorders be developing coping mechanisms to deal with life’s stressors.

These words were music to my ears. I have written about the damage of stress as well as how to deal with stress previously. You can search s t r e s s in the right hand column, or just click on the stress tag at the right. I would recommend Stress Will Kill You and Some Super Tools for Handling Stress specifically.

Finally, Dr. Frank offered three more strategies to prevent anxiety symptoms:
* Promote physical well-being through exercise, healthy eating habits and adequate rest.
* Avoid the use of caffeine, illicit drugs, or the inappropriate use of stimulants or other prescription medications.
* Meditation.


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Filed under brain, Exercise, stress

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