The world has changed a lot. Some of it has been gradual, like your teachers telling you that you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket, and now we all have mini laptops with all the information in the world at our fingertips. Some of it was not so gradual, like our lives changing seemingly in the blink of an eye, when we as a world found ourselves in the grip of a pandemic. Today, we are more connected than we have ever been, and it is easy to be overwhelmed with so much coming at you all the time.
What Is Anxiety?
The Oxford definition states anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease typically about an imminent event or something without a certain outcome.” Anxiety is unfortunately a normal part of life and usually temporary, like worrying about an interview or an impending test you’re not sure you studied enough for. However, anxiety disorders are also very real and not temporary, as many sufferers would confirm. Sometimes, anxiety can get so bad that it causes a panic attack.
Is a Panic Attack a Heart Attack?
The simple answer is no, though your body sure does do its best to make you think that you are having one. When you have a panic attack, your brain sends the signal to your body that you need to survive, and that signal involves a surge of adrenaline and cortisone into your body.
This immediately raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and because the change is so rapid, it’s not uncommon to feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or sweating. These symptoms mimic those of a heart attack, which is why so many people erroneously believe they are having a heart attack. This, in turn, does not help with the anxiety you are already trying to work through, adding yet another trigger.
What Kind of Anxiety Disorders Are There?
There are many forms anxiety can take from a healthcare perspective:
- Generalized anxiety disorder is when the sufferer feels anxious throughout the day and may not be able to pinpoint a specific trigger.
- Medical anxiety disorder is where a medical condition is the cause of the anxiety.
- Agoraphobia causes intense anxiety at the thought of going outside.
- Social anxiety triggers when someone is thrust into unknown social situations.
- Panic disorder is where you might suffer moments of panic throughout the day.
Is It All in My Head?
Though a simple question, the answer is not as simple. Anxiety can be triggered by both physical and psychological triggers. Physical triggers can be anything that raises your blood pressure or heart rate, like caffeine or amphetamines. A racing heart is a common symptom of an anxiety attack, which can lead the sufferer into believing they are suffering from one. It becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Psychological triggers include stress or stressors induced by the environment, like job stress, family woes, or even phobia-based stressors like being afraid of crowds or the dark. Either way, your body takes the wheel, and you really have no control, no matter the trigger.
How Does Stress Affect My Anxiety?
Stressors are a common part of anxiety, and they can also be a gateway to developing a disorder. Chronic stress eventually starts to wear on the sufferer, both physically and psychologically. This eventually can lead to symptoms manifesting like depression, insomnia, panic attacks, and anxiety among the serious, but usually treatable, symptoms.
Can Anxiety Be Managed?
Anything, including anxiety, can be managed with a little research and a whole lot of work. Introspection can be the first step in looking at your disorder — searching for your anxiety triggers and identifying them.
Awareness of your triggers provides a first step to resolution. You can try to avoid those triggers, and knowing what is causing anxiety can also help you avoid downward spirals where anxiety feeds on itself.
There are well-researched techniques that trusted mental health providers can help you understand. Writing down your thoughts, breathing exercises, and mental tricks like taking a step back are all listed here on our website.
Anxiety affected an estimated 19.1% of US adults this year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That is approximately 40 million people. That statistic seems a little scary, but it also means that those suffering are not alone, even when they feel that way. With there being so many sufferers, it also means that the medical community has come together to offer help and resources for those suffering.
In this instance, having the world’s information at your fingertips can help improve your mental health instead of hindering it. Prime Behavioral Health is one place offering resources ranging from information, consultations, and many treatment and therapy options all just a finger tap or mouse click away.