Anxiety disorders are extremely common, especially in modern Western societies. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 14% of Australians are affected by some kind of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, and if you suffer from anxiety the good news is it does not have to rule your life: anxiety is a very treatable condition and you have the power to control it so it doesn’t control you.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that helps us to appropriately assess situations in which we should fear danger or harbor suspicion. Everyone will experience anxiety at some point in their lives-it is a normal mental safety mechanism. However, anxiety disorders are an exaggeration of normal anxiety in both the presence and absence of fear or danger. Worrying about your husband if he is 30 minutes late for dinner is a normal anxious reaction. Fearing that germs on public transportation will give you a fatal disease if you ever ride the bus is not a normal anxious reactions-it is a telltale sign of an anxiety disorder.
There are many types of anxiety disorders that are housed under the umbrella term anxiety. Obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias are some of the most common forms of anxiety and they each have their own sets of symptoms and causes. However, all anxiety disorders are make people’s worries or fears constant and crippling, and they translate to both physiological and psychological symptoms that include:
· Feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness
· Obsessive thoughts that are out of a person’s control
· Dry mouth
· Muscle tension
· Shortness of breath
· Compulsive behavior
Above are just a few of the symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety levels can ebb and flow for someone with an anxiety disorder, with symptoms typically intensifying during periods of high stress. Anxiety disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of biological pre-dispositions and environmental factors, with environmental factors, particularly during childhood, being the primary cause of anxiety.
Although anxiety is prevalent, it is completely treatable. While many people opt for the pharmaceutical approach to controlling their anxiety disorders, treatment methods that focus on re-wiring thought patterns and neural pathways are much more helpful and get to the root of the problem. This allows people to reflect deeply within themselves and make fundamental changes that lead to healthier and happier lifestyles. Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of thought monitoring that re-structures the way people approach their fears and reactions, is thought to be one of the most effective methods of treating anxiety. Other methods, such as hypnosis, are also very effective.
Food for thought: If you are suffering from anxiety and irrational fear, obsessions, and compulsions, keep in mind that a thought is only as powerful as the attention that you give it, and you are the one who decides how much attention you can give your own thoughts.