Wednesday, February 2, 2011
When we try to understand anxiety, we need to look at fear first. Fear is a way we have of protecting ourselves; it’s an appropriate reaction to a real danger. If there is a dangerous situation, fear kicks in. Our adrenaline levels increase dramatically; we become hyper-vigilant, on guard, ready to act if necessary. On the other hand, anxiety is an over-reaction to something that we perceive as dangerous. Our bodies react in the same way though. Even though there is no real danger, when we feel those physical reactions -- heart racing, sweating, shortness of breath -- our body registers that there must be something dangerous out there.
Some of the symptoms that we might experience with excessive anxiety are: panic and fear, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, heart palpitations, sweating, sleep problems. But it’s confusing, we feel very similar to the way we would feel when there is a real danger out there, but can’t figure out why we’re feeling this way. Then we start worrying even more and a vicious cycle begins.
When anxiety is taking over our lives, we feel overwhelmed, helpless, out of control. Worrying takes up more and more of our time and energy. We know that some of our thoughts and behaviors are unreasonable, but can't stop them. It’s hard to explain and often embarrassing to tell our family and friends about and often hard for them to understand. It can be a very lonely experience.
There are many ways to deal with anxiety. Certain activities, techniques and therapies can help. Some work for one person but not for another. There are many things that can give you relief though, so if you do have anxiety, don’t give up, don’t be discouraged ..... the solution for you may be right around the corner! In my next post, I’ll tell you about some of the solutions that I’ve found that have helped me and many others.