What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety refers to feelings of fear, worry and nervousness. It includes the physical as well as emotional sensations people might have when anxious or worried about something. Even though anxiety is usually regarded as unpleasant, it is actually connected to the biological reaction of ‘flight or fight’ – our natural response when we feel threatened. It is normal for us to occasionally feel anxious. It is pretty normal to feel to be nervous, fearful or tense when one thinks of a tough decision he has to make or a stressful event – particularly one that has a bearing on your life in a big way. For example:
- Attending an interview
- Deciding to get divorced or married
- Getting a baby
- Sitting for an exam
- Relocating from home
- Going to hospital
The ‘flight or fight’ reaction
All animals (including human beings) have biological ways to help protect against dangerous or life-threatening circumstances. When you feel threatened, your body lets out hormones like cortisol and adrenalin that help you to prepare physically to run away from the danger or fight it. The hormones make you ready to act quickly, and they increase your heart rate as blood is pumped faster to areas needed most. This is the ‘flight or fight’ response and happens automatically such that we cannot control it. While the contemporary society doesn’t usually subject us to circumstances that require us to run physically away from danger or fight it, our natural biological reaction, when we feel threatened, is the same.
When is anxiety a mental health concern?
If you are experiencing intense, persistent, excessive and frequent fear and worry about the normal day to day situations, you may be suffering from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders usually include recurrent incidents of abrupt feelings of fear and anxiety that can result to panic attacks within moments. These strong emotions of anxiety, as well as panic, can last for extended periods, are hard to control and impact on someone’s daily activities. Symptoms of anxiety disorders can start to appear during babyhood or in teenage years and proceed into adulthood.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders
Severe anxiety lasting a minimum six months is a pointer to anxiety disorders and would benefit from assessment by a mental health practitioner and treatment. While every anxiety disorder shows a different set of symptoms, all the signs and symptoms tend to cluster around extreme, irrational terror and fear.