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Why Do I Feel Anxious

Updated on September 3, 2012

Feeling More and More Anxious

It is natural to feel uneasy in certain circumstances.
When the concern and worry is excessive, and interferes with your daily life, causes intrusive and negative thoughts and creates personal conflicts, it may be time to take proactive measures. Anxiety often feeds on itself.  Once prone to anxious feelings, a person’s thoughts become heightened and sensitized to feeling more anxious, more powerless, and more helpless.
Feeling helpless and powerless creates more anxiety because the person doesn’t know what to do relieve the anxiety. Anxiety can make someone feel more vulnerable towards other negative emotions.  
Anxiety feeds and grows on itself. Anxiety puts us in a heightened state of constant fear, and makes us more susceptible towards more anxiety. We feel powerless. Powerlessness makes us feel helpless. Helplessness creates a feeling of weakness and the result is more anxiety.

Anxiety Serves Good Purposes Too

Anxiety actually serves an evolutionary and survival purpose. When we need to react to danger, our mind and body kicks into gear to help us react so that we can survive the threat. There are biological things that happen when we perceive a threat. Adrenaline gets released through the body to help us run.
This is known as an autonomic response - the body reacts automatically. A few minutes later, the frontal lobes, the cortex where are thinking and reasoning are done will evaluate the situation. If the threat is gone, it is the cortex that sends the information to the other part of the brain to relax. If the threat still exists, the biological reactions will continue - rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, pounding heart, sweaty palms, tense muscles, uneasy stomach.
These reactions range from mild to intense, from a variety of triggers. Under situations of anxiety, people actually become focused and alert. Anxiety can be a good thing. It is when anxiety is intense and interferes with our best functioning, or creates feeling overwhelmed, that we must take positive action towards a healthier thought patterns.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are very common.   People of all ages, men and women, around the world are dealing with anxiety constantly. It is common for people to not necessarily be aware of the negative sensations they are feeling. Until people know something is wrong with their thinking, they will not seek help.     
  • Generalized anxiety - people have excessive worry and fear for the worst.  They can also have somatic (body) reactions  ranging from chest pains and tight muscles to stomachs, headaches, and feeling tired. These symptoms can cause people to miss work and school. They feel overwhelmed and that their life is out of control.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - thoughts get fixated on the same ideas and compulsions (actions) are constantly repeated in an attempt to relieve the anxious obsessive thoughts.
  • Phobias -  strong fears that cause people to avoid the things they are afraid of.  
  • Social phobia - (social anxiety). Social situations can trigger a fear of being around people.  
  • Panic attacks - A panic attack brings on a sudden and intense reaction that impedes with the person’s ability to function.    s
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Anxiety is brought on by a traumatic experience that causes a terrifying feeling. Often people have flashbacks, loss of sleep, nightmares, and fear of the event reoccuring.  

Triggers that Cause Anxiety

There are many triggers of anxiety disorders. Genetics, an over active amydala creating excessive fight/flight reaction, brain biochemistry, stressful events, and acquired learned behavior.

Within the brain chemistry, neurotransmitters regulate the chemicals. When these go awry, anxiety persists.

Our brain and anxiety - the limbic system is oldest part of the brain. It is our most primitive part. Fear at its basic originates within the amygdala in this part of the brain. The frontal lobe part of the brain is where we do our more advanced thinking. This area is called the neo-cortex. It is here that we judge, and discern right from wrong, evaluate real and imaginary, decide what is appropriate and inappropriate, and view what is reasonable and not reasonable.

The Body's Reaction to Anxiety

Our response to threats begins in the amygdala as a primitive reaction. At this level we don’t do any thinking, we just react. It is purely a survival thing, and it doesn't matter if we are wrong or right. We just need to survive.


The amygdala sends out hormonal signals in a fight or flight response. Adrenalin is sent into the blood stream and our body reacts automatically.  Our system gets riled up, we are ready to defend or flee.
This reaction of the adrenalin coursing through our bloodstream and the decision to fight or flee in an instantaneous moment creates anxiety. The anxiety is a result of not being able to release the adrenalin. Our body went into overdrive, as we get ready to protect our very existence, but then don’t have to.
Our ideas have caused a misfiring. Without a way to rid our body of the chemicals released, we are left with anxiety. Treatments for anxiety keep the amygdala from firing off scary thoughts and stopping our frontal lobes from thinking clearly.  

To Be Less Anxious - Be More Assertive


There are ways to handle your anxiety:

  • take deep slow purposeful breaths - inhale through the nose slowly, exhale through the mouth slowly
  • quantity and quality of sleep is important
  • stay away from caffeine and alcohol
  • move around - get exercise
  • try to notice when you feel anxious
  • try to notice when you feel relaxed
  • learn to be assertive
  • learn healthy ways to adapt to situations so you can better handle stressful thoughts

Why do you need to be more assertive? Anxiety is related to your ego and self esteem. Those who are less assertive and trying to be people-pleasers will tend to be more anxious.

EMDR Therapy Helps Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a very effective counseling technique to help with anxious thoughts, depression, and mood disorders.  The idea is to create greater self awareness so that our thoughts will be different.  Different thoughts will create different actions and different actions will create different results for us.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is much more resistant to conventional talk therapy. A special therapy technique called EMDR is known to be very effective.  A counselor who is familiar with this type of therapy can create very positive and effective results.  
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)  It helps change how you think of an react to the traumatic memories you have.  The person begins to talk about the memories and at the same time receives another stimulus to following a finger to make their eyes move back and forth or left leg right leg taps.
It is thought that a traumatic memory may get stuck between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The theory is that external stimulus at the same time the person is re-experiencing the event by speaking about it, causes the memory to move out of the locked part of the brain.  
While science is not exactly sure how this works, EMDR, is showing great promise in helping people restore their lives and getting over traumatic events.

Famous People Who Suffer From Anxiety


Anxiety is a normal reaction. If you suffer from anxiety you are in good company.
Many people in the music industry: David Bowie, John Cougar Mellencamp, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin,  Donny and Marie Osmond, Carly Simon, Courtney Love, Naomi Judd, Eric Clapton, Cher, Goldie Hawn.

Many celebrities: Johnny Depp, Sally Field, Winona Ryder, Sissy Spacek, Tom Synder, Kim Basinger, Oprah Winfrey, Edie Falco, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Burt Reynolds,  Roseanne Barr, Sir Laurence Olivier, Joan Rivers
Other well known people: Sigmund Freud, Sam Shepard, Isaac Asimov, Charles Schultz, Sir Isaac Newton,  John Steinbeck, W.B. Yeats, Barbara Bush. Abraham Lincoln.

Live Your Best Life Ever!

If you feel anxiety is taking over your life or interfering with your thoughts and ability to function, you can help yourself. Seek a qualified mental health therapist to learn more about the roots of your anxiety.
Work on behavioral therapies yourself to help change your thinking and change your reactions. Self growth, self improvement, and greater self awareness will always make our own lives better. Take proactive, preventative and protective measures to live your best life ever.

Comments

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    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      6 years ago

      Hi Minne, Thank you for your kind comments. Anxiety is a common problem that many people struggle with. I am glad you are getting some relief and I hope you know you are not alone.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Excellent article on anxiety! I've struggled with anxiety and panic attacks on and off throughout my life. I have learned tools to combat it which includes medication. Your hub will help people that struggle with anxiety and help others understand what it's like.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      6 years ago

      Hi Pooja,

      I am glad you found this article so helpful. Emotions are a part of each and everyone of us. The more we understand about things like anxiety, the more we can hopefully handle our emotions better. Thank you for commenting and for your up rating.

    • profile image

      pooja gupta 

      6 years ago

      dis article is really very informative....lots of people will surely get its benifits.....anxiety is something from which many people suffer everyday...and would want to get rid of it...the therapies u hav xplained here are very useful...excellent..rated up

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      HI SG, Thank you very much for your kind and inspirational comments. I am humbled, but happy to know you like my hubs.

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 

      7 years ago from Nigeria

      Am so pleased to read from you once again toknowinfo, actually i must confess that your hubs usually comes with lots of inspiration and great advice which these particular one is not an exception.Thanks dear,cheers.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Ang, Phrasing anxiety as the unruly robber of peace and well being is such a poetic way to talk about anxiety.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 

      7 years ago

      Great information. We all suffer from anxiety at one time or other, so it's good to know that we can take positive meaures to tame the unruly robber of peace and well-being. Rated up.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Kath, Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this hub. Anxiety like so many things in life needs to have a balance. Action reduces anxiety and can also empower us. You are right about how we can use anxiety to motivate us and then reduce our anxiety.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from California

      Great Hub & topic as anxiety is an all too common part of life. As you point out however, it can have some positive aspects - it is a great motivator and I know that many times, once we take action, the anxiety it reduced!

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi RP, Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you liked this hub.

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 

      7 years ago from NY

      Well written and very informative, rated up and useful.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Pam, Prayer helps some people, but when your mind is not thinking rationally, sometimes it needs something to calm it down and then talk therapy, prayer and rational thinking will start to work. I am not advocating medication, but sometimes it can start things in the right direction and then the person can get off of it. It depends on the individual situation. I just try to give all options.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 

      7 years ago from Utah

      I too find prayer stress releaving. Too many in society opt for pills to cure ills, and look no further for anything else. Voted up, marked useful.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Tam, It is not that people pleasing is an esteem booster, but more people pleasers are likely have anxiety. It is smart what you said about worshiping God, because I think praying helps a lot of people feel less anxious. By the way, how did the dentist go?

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Amillar, Thanks for stopping by and for your up ratings.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      toknowinfo 

      7 years ago

      Hi Fay, you make me laugh. But I know your second husband put you through a lot. Thanks for the up rating.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      7 years ago

      My favorite part of the article is that people pleasing as an esteem booster plays a huge role in anxiety which makes worshiping God great because there is only one to please.

      Informative educational article.

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 

      7 years ago from Scotland, UK

      This is very useful. I'm sure that there will be people who benefit greatly by reading. Up and useful.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      7 years ago

      I could have used this article a few years ago. My ex-husband used to have anxiety attacks and I found it to be the most annoying thing on earth, because otherwise he was a complete bully. I'd want to smack him. I now have a better understanding of the disorder, but I still want to smack my ex.:)

      up/useful

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