All very important for Anxiety

Imagine you’re lying on a beach. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining and there is a gentle breeze wafting over your body.
Sounds of nature fill the air as you chat and laugh with family and friends. You are surrounded by people who you love and respect and who love and respect you.

You feel warm, contented and happy, totally relaxed, anxiety-free.
Now imagine a very different scene. It’s the dead of night and you are alone, walking down a dimly lit alley.
There are doorways on either side – who knows what’s hiding in them waiting to pounce? You are scared and your senses are heightened.
Your sight and hearing have become more sensitive, able to pinpoint the slightest movement or sound.

Your breathing and heartbeat have become more rapid, you feel light-headed and dizzy, want to go to the toilet or throw up. Your limbs feel shaky and your whole body is now charged with energy, full of anxiety, ready to fight or flee, possibly for your life.
anxiety problem

These two scenes represent either end of the anxiety scale.
In the first we feel warm, secure and safe, we are fully relaxed. In the second we are fully tense, in a state of preparedness, highly alert and scared.
Anxiety probably serves many functions, but two of the main ones are:

anxiety relax
1.It helps prepare our body for action, making us more alert,
ready to fight or flee from any imminent threat to our survival.
This is related to the direct physical anxiety symptoms such as
racing heartbeat, fast breathing, being jittery and on edge,
trembling etc.
We can also go from being totally relaxed to
fully tense in an instant which forms the basis of panic.
Physical anxiety symptoms are due to the ‘Fight or Flight’
response. The body re-directing resources to the major muscle
groups (legs, arms, chest) to provide them with an energy
boost to prepare us for action (ultimately to fight or flee).
The Fight-or-Flight Response
Our breathing becomes more rapid to get more oxygen
for these muscles into the blood.
Our heartbeat speeds up to get the blood to the muscles
quickly.
Understanding Anxiety Problems
Blood is diverted away from parts of the brain (making
us light-headed and dizzy) and the stomach (causing
‘butterflies’).
Energy cannot be wasted processing any half-digested
food in our system so we have to get rid of it quickly –
either through the mouth (feelings of nausea) or the
other end (wanting to go to the toilet).
Other ‘energy-wasting’ systems (unnecessary in time of
danger) are shut down. For example, saliva production,
which results in a dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
The same happens with panic, but here things are more
intense and happen almost instantaneously for when panic
occurs the danger is usually right on us.
2.Anxiety also causes us to plan ahead for any potential
dangers and how we may deal with them. An excellent survival
strategy (it’s better to deal with any possible danger or avoid it
before we get into the situation) but an unfortunate effect of
this is that we can get nervous and anxious just thinking about
situations.
A main ingredient in the cause of certain anxiety disorders
this is related to symptoms of the mind such as persistent
negative thoughts and excessive worrying. Here, anxiety
builds up as we think about situations. For example:-
Worry is the main symptom in generalized anxiety
disorder.
In social anxiety disorder/social phobia we worry
about, or plan to avoid some feared social situation in
the future.
 social anxiety
Worry and planning can be seen in the rituals
and compulsions.
As with the fight-or-flight response, self-protection lies at
the root of all such planning and worrying.
Millions of people worldwide experience anxiety problems.
It is estimated that in America alone, around 30 million
people suffer from some form of anxiety disorder.
The most common being social anxiety disorder (or social phobia),
affecting over 7 million people, closely followed by post
traumatic stress disorder  and general anxiety disorder.
Around 1 in 40-60 people suffer and around 1 in 10 are reported to have a specific phobia.
This doesn’t include extreme shyness, self-consciousness
and other nervous conditions involving anxiety, which may
work in the same way though not severe enough to be classed
as disorders.
For example, many people are shy enough to
avoid certain situations, particularly where they feel nervous
and uncomfortable in the presence of others.
These problems are part of the human condition, a part of
how we work.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of
hell, a hell of heaven”
Anxiety-related problems reflect the subconscious ways
that humans have evolved to protect themselves. Almost
everyone displays behaviors associated with many anxiety
disorders at some time in their lives. Behaviors such as
disturbing thoughts, checking, a need for perfection, anxiety,
panic and despair are common place.
How many ‘normal’ people
Avoid public speaking at all costs?
We may look at other people and think that they are more
confident than us, but that is not always the case, confidence
exists on different levels. Some people are very confident in
some situations and not so confident in others.
“Those with a high level of confidence may have as many or
more weaknesses than those with low self-esteem. The difference is
this;
instead of dwelling on their handicaps, they compensate for
them by dwelling on their strengths”
 anxiety

So how do these problems affect us?

Does someone with depression feel the same as someone with social phobia or
someone with OCD?
The next section explains how these problems are related
and details physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms
that are common to many disorders involving anxiety.

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