Anxious about Anxiety

"Abnormal Psychology" by Barlow and Durand
"Abnormal Psychology" by Barlow and Durand

Emotion vs. Disorder

It is perfectly normal to be apprehensive about the future. As humans, we worry about many things. We worry about upcoming assessments, about our families, about our jobs, our health… The list of worrysome circumstances is endless. Though it may not seem so, anxiety is a healthy emotion. Without anxiety, there will be nothing to motivate our daily activities. Imagine you have an upcoming musical performance. Without anxiety, you will see no reason to rehearse before you step foot onto the stage. Or if you have an upcoming interview, for instance. Why prepare for the interview if you’re not anxious about it?

The thing that differentiates healthy anxiety from an anxiety disorder is the severity and the duration of the emotion. When you’re constantly and excessively apprehensive about the future, it can lead to significant emotional distress and impairment. Once you begin feeling anxious about having anxiety, then you’re either heading toward developing an anxiety disorder or you’re already experiencing an anxiety disorder.

Theories of Anxiety

According to Sigmund Freud, anxiety is a psychic reaction to danger that involves a past childhood experience. Although this can be true, there are other contributions to the cause of anxiety. The psychological view of anxiety supports Freud in a way, stating that early experience with uncontrollably and unpredictability can lead to anxiety. This means that a child who grows up in a chaotic family or a similar circumstance is at greater risk for severe anxiety. Similarly, the social view states that stressful life events trigger an individual’s vulnerability to anxiety.

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is one of the several types of anxiety disorders. The majority of the world's population would experience at least one panic attack in their lifetime but not everyone will suffer with panic disorder. Panic disorder affects about 3.5% of the United States population and two thirds of those with panic disorder are female.

Individuals with panic disorder are diagnosed by their fear of having another panic attack. The fear of having a panic attack can also trigger an actual panic attack, thus creating the vicious cycle of being anxious about anxiety and panicking when thinking about having a panic attack.

What is this talk of panic attacks anyway? A panic attack is "an abrupt experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied by physical symptoms" (Barlow and Durand).


Symptoms of a Panic Attack

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of choking
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Palpitations or pounding heart
  • Sensation of shortness of breath
  • Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
  • Trembling or shaking

Google Images
Google Images

Panic Attack vs. Heart Attack

If you've had a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort where four or more of the above symptoms were experienced, then that is classified as a panic attack. The symptoms of a panic attack often develop abruptly and peak within 10 minutes.

Many times, when individuals experience a panic attack for the first time, they run straight to the emergency room, believing that they're having a heart attack. As you may have noticed, the physiological symptoms of a panic attack, such as chest pain and palpitations are also symptoms of a heart attack.

With a real heart attack, pain often radiates usually to the left arm or to the jaw while chest pain during a panic usually remains in the center of the chest.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is another type of anxiety disorder associated with panic attacks. It affects about 4% of the population. GAD is characterized by the excessive and uncontrollable anxious apprehension and worry and the following symptoms (at least 3) persists for at least 6 months:

Symptoms of GAD

  • Restlessness or edginess
  • becoming easily tired
  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • sleep disturbance

Brief Case Study - an individual with GAD

The anxiety associated with GAD and the physical symptoms significantly distress or impair the individual's social and occupational functioning. The anxiety just continues to pile up.

There was a case of a 20-year-old college student who felt that everything was a catastrophe. Though she had at 3.7 grade-point average, she felt she would fail every assessment. She always threatened to drop courses and was so worried she finally quit college after only a month.

The young woman went to a junior college instead but she continued to worry about school. She worried about her relationships and constantly believed that her boyfriend would lose interest in her and think that she was a fool. With every meal, she felt she would eat something that will make her ill. As a result, her eating habits became unstable. She was even worried about her religious faith.

Every now and then, this young woman had a panic attack but it was not her primary concern (which differentiates GAD from Panic Disorder). Her primary concern was what will go wrong next in her life.

Because of this young woman's constant worry, she developed chronic headaches, stomach pains and gas. Everything in her life was a downward spiral of misfortunes.

Is There a Cure?

As with other psychological conditions, there is no cure for anxiety disorders but there are treatments out there. Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are often prescribed and have proven to alleviate symptoms. Another proven alleviator of PD and GAD symptoms is Cognitive Behavioral (Psycho)therapy. Chronic Behavioral Therapy uses techniques such as muscle relaxation and breathing techniques to help patients learn to deal with the symptoms of GAD and PD.

Reduce Stress to Reduce Anxiety

There are several ways to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Reducing stress is one way. In order to reduce stress you can:

  • Multitask less and organize your priorities
  • Don't hold grudges - forgive and forget
  • Make a schedule to help with time management
  • Schedule a "me-time" - take time for yourself
  • Keep a diary

Google Images: acupuncture
Google Images: acupuncture

Alternative Treatments

  • Acupuncture
  • Massages
  • Aromatherapy
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing
  • Self-hypnosis

Help Yourself so you can Help Others

For those suffering with anxiety out there, remember you're not the only one. There are many others who are experiencing or have experienced what you are experiencing right now. For those who know someone suffering with anxiety, get educated in the topic and do some research so you can properly support that person. The more the public becomes aware of anxiety disorders, the greater chance of better treatments being found and becoming avaliable to sufferers.

If you are an anxious individual, it's time to take measures to ease your anxiety and prevent developing an anxiety disorder.

Sources

Barlow, David H., and Vincent Mark. Durand. Abnormal Psychology: an Integrative Approach. Australia: Cengage Wadsworth, 2009. Print.

Miller, Tara. "100 Natural Ways to Overcome Anxiety | U.S. PharmD." U.S. PharmD - U.S. Doctor of Pharmacy. Web. 19 May 2010. <http://www.uspharmd.com/blog/2008/100-natural-ways-to-overcome-anxiety/>.

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Comments 59 comments

marvalousnj profile image

marvalousnj 6 years ago from Central Jersey USA

Quite informative.


dollmaker profile image

dollmaker 6 years ago

great informative hub


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks for your comments, marvalousnj and dollmaker.


crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI

I liked that you mentioned just because you have anxiety doesn't mean you have a disorder. People with anxiety disorders rely so much on medications, I wish other treatments were more popular. I have ocd and have tried several things outside of medication, and always end up going back to meds. Very informative article.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

crazybeanrider, I'm sorry about your OCD. I'm sure you'll find something, other than medications, that may help you. Thank you for commenting. I'm glad that you found my article informative.


loriamoore 6 years ago

A little anxiety is normal. A lot of anxiety requires help. Good article.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Yes, exactly, loriamoore. Thanks for commenting.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

This was useful - I used to get panic attacks and they were very frightening. Seems I'm pretty much over them now, thanks to a very wise therapist who helped me heal myself!

Love and peace

Tony


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks, Tony. I'm happy you're pretty much over those panic attacks now. Thanks for sharing and commenting.


Joni Douglas profile image

Joni Douglas 6 years ago

Great hub and very useful for so many. We all get anxious at times. Thanks.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

thank you, Joni! I appreciate your comment.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

My husband has come through a lot and has suffered from anxiety attacks on numerous occasions. I got a taste of what he goes through when I had one of my own - indescribable. Your hub is invaluable for more reasons than I could possibly list here. Your in depth knowledge and coverage of this topic is outstanding and it is very well written! Thank you for making this available!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Anxiety attacks ARE indeed horrible experiences. I appreciate your opinion of my article and your comment. Thank you so very much.


~Kimberly Kay~ profile image

~Kimberly Kay~ 6 years ago

this is a great article...i felt a few of those tonight...LOL! by the way thank you for reading my hub earlier. =)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Kimberly, you felt a few of those tonight, huh? Sorry about that. Oh, and no problem. I enjoyed your hub. Thanks for commenting!


Dina 6 years ago

Nice work. I thought it was really interestiing and informative. Good luck.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thank you, Dina!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

We all need to learn about anxiety and the other types of disorders. Knowledge is power and then the next step is to find a way to help us out of it. Wonderful job!

This is an official announcement: Your Hub is a Hubnugget Wannabe and nominated in the Knowledge and Education Category. This is the Hubnugget Link: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/New-Adventure...


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

ripplemaker, thank you for your official announcement. That's so nice of you. Yes, knowledge is power. Your comment and announcement is much appreciated.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

Excellent information and so well done. Good to see your sources are mentioned. By coincidence, I put a question about that in the forum tonight(before seeing you have done sources) because I don't see anyone doing it. But I guess I must have only seen general topics mostly.

I notice under your Other Hubs By Me, the first one has a funny mark by the name Graciela. I think you have to go into your Auto Formatting to correct that on your Word document copy -- or whatever you used to make it -- should you ever want to correct it. You would disable Smart Quotes and stuff there. (I think.)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks, Pamela. Yeah, I noticed that odd marking. I don't know what to do about that. I added that capsule as an RSS feed so I don't know how to format it it or even if I can. I'll try to fix it.

Thanks for commenting once again.


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

I repeat myself when when under stress, I repeat myself when when under stress, I repeat myself when when under stress, I repeat myself when when under stress:) Truthfully I rarely stress about anything, especially things I have no control over. Good hub, Peace!!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Nicely written, justom. It's good that you don't stress. Especially when it's about things you have no control over. More people should learn not to stress about things they don't have control over. Thanks for commenting.


green tea-cher profile image

green tea-cher 6 years ago

This is a very informative hub. I like that you included potential physical symptoms and also that you mention alternative therapies to taking medications. Well Done!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, green tea-cher! Also, thanks for following me. I appreciate it.


Catherina Severin profile image

Catherina Severin 6 years ago from Arizona, U.S.A.

Yes, there is a cure for anxiety. Check out Thought Field Therapy! May not be very known, but is very fast and extremely effective, more so than self-hypnosis and acupuncture. I studied all three modalities, so I know :)

xx C


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Congratulations on your nomination, kaltopsyd! I have been 'suffering' with these-as well as other-disorders for so many years I can barely count! I've found aging to be my strongest ally. I've calmed down quite a bit. :-)

Excellent article!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Catherina, I will definitely look into that. Thanks.

lorlie6, it's good to know that aging has become an ally for you. That's great. I hope everything completely subsides for you. Thanks for commenting. Thank you very much!


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

great hub kaltopsyd,

i like that you include alternate therapies in your work opposed to just medicating the problem. I think to many people are put on drugs to handle problems that could be cured with exercise and shifts in their thought patterns.

keep up the good work, and i like that you want to help children, you can save them a lifetime of suffering.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thank you, John. Yes, I believe that doctors are too quick to medicate sometimes. Alternative treatments should be tried first. Thanks for commenting.


oscillationatend profile image

oscillationatend 6 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

Hey there! Just to point out-- "We worry about upcomingassessments," you need to put a little space somewhere. ;) I saw the need for a space a couple of places here and there, but this is well written regardless.

I think knowing where an anxiety comes from helps, and the fact you're right--it's healthy in certain times. I just wish I didn't have this fear of zombies. ;)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Wow, wait a minute. Those lack of spaces weren't there before. I see them too now. Something must have gone wrong with the formatting. Weird. Thanks for letting me know...


oscillationatend profile image

oscillationatend 6 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

You're welcome. Sometimes HP (or keyboards) can mess up a bit. ;) I do it all the time. Or I right a word that has the same sound, but different meaning. ;)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

No, those formatting issues weren't there before AT ALL. I proof read this a million times. And just a little while ago, while I was fixing the mistakes, more were evolving. My computer is rebelling against me. Ahh!


Angela_1973 profile image

Angela_1973 6 years ago

I enjoyed your hub and am so happy to have read it especially where you explain how a child that grows in chaotic family might grow up with more anxieties, that makes a lot of sense, this is one of the things that I would print and post on my fridge so that I can see it every day Thanks :)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

You enjoyed reading the hub? Really? Thanks. Go ahead, post it on your fridge. hehe. Thanks for stopping by, Angela.


Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

No wonder this was a HUBNUGGET WINNER! I am feeling less anxious just reading it because I do not identify with any of the maladies you covered here. I expect some protion comes from the assurance I have in Christ, but also As I age i understand that there is really very little so critical as to get terribly worried about.

Great job Kimberly.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Aww, thanks, Dobson. I do believe that having assurance in Christ is very helpful. Having faith can take some of life's worries off your back.

Thanks for commenting!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

I noticed this on your Profile - Well done on the nomination.

I'm glad I read it as I never knew there was such a thing as "healthy anxiety". Anxiety has always been a negative word to me. Also, thanks for the useful tips on how to combat it.

Regards, E.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thanks, Lady E. Yes, anxiety can be healthy in small amount. Thanks for commenting!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Congrats on your Hub Nuggests awards. Your Women of Thespian Lane sounds fabulous -- and just reading the snippets I can tell you have a wicked sense of humor, too!

I can't say I "enjoyed" this hub but the distinction between GAD and panic attacks was an eye-opener for me.

I had a boyfriend who suffered from panic attacks. It was really scary.

Good suggestions for stress reduction, too!

Glad you found me so I could find YOU! Cheers, MM


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Mighty Mom! I'm so glad you stopped by. Thanks. I have a friend who suffers from panic attacks. It IS scary. I'm glad I found you as well... and that you think I have a wicked sense of humour too! haha.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


kims3003 6 years ago

Excellent and informative hub! Well done with a nice writing style.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thank you very much, Kim. Thanks for the compliments and for commenting!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Having reviewed this hub, I agree with the award.. Thanks for sharing! The more you learn...the more you "earn." (not talking about money...)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Thank you for the kind compliment, dallas. Yes, the more you learn, the more you earn.


CMCastro 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing this hub. It is nice to know that I am not "crazy". The Dr. tried to diagnose me with the word "Depression". My mother called it "circumstance". Well my cure for anxiousness is through "His Stripes I AM HEALED!"


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

CM, all I can say is AMEN! Thanks for commenting!


Mum Knows Best! profile image

Mum Knows Best! 6 years ago from North East England

Fantastic hub. You really are a fab writer. You are a very interseting person. Look forward to reading more - and thanks for your comments on my hub!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, Mum Knows Best! Thank you for stopping by and commenting... and for the compliment. :D


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

An excellent hub. Clearly defines differences between mental disorders. Doesn't just about everyone suffer from a disorder in one form or another? I am a fan and following you now. Looking forward to reading all of your hubs. Thanks and thumbs up!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, vocal coach. Thank your for stopping by. I'm glad to have you as a fan! :)


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

My father suffered from occasional panic attacks from stressors related to his job...but still had them after retirement,medication is what made them occasional and allowed him to continue with work;)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hello, Mentalist. I know a few people who have occasional panic attacks as well though I don't have a personal experience. Thanks for sharing.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 6 years ago

Such an educative hub Kim. I love hubs such as these - written so well too, well done!! Most people don't think of anxiety as being something positive, yet (as you pointed out), it is necessary and generally a healthy emotion. Of course, there are many for whom it transcends from being a healthy emotion to an unhealthy one!!

Personally, I am an anxious person (a bit more than others), however in the healthy sense. I also do have the relatively rare condition of having sweaty palms and soles when I am anxious/nervous. That has been a bit of a bother for me and I have to keep a hankie on hand to cope with it!!

Thanks again for this hub Kim - loved reading it :)


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

Hi Shil, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my Hub. I never thought of anxiety as a positive thing before I took psychopathology last year. I loved that class!

I think I'm an anxious person too... in a healthy way. Sorry about the sweaty palms and soles thing though.

Thanks for your comment!


P.B. Townsend profile image

P.B. Townsend 5 years ago from The Internet

I don't want to regurgitate all that everyone has already said, so I will simply echo them by saying great article, kaltopsyd!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 5 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA Author

haha. Thank you, P.B.!


James Peters profile image

James Peters 4 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

This is a GREAT article.

I suffer from ANXIETY attacks, but thankfully not that often.

When I have these attacks I feel like I'm the ONLY person in the world who's going through this.

Your article hit it SQUARE on its head - thank you!

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