Anxiety- What's It All About? Three Things You Might Not Know
Anxiety disorders are estimated to impact 18.1% of adults according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns that Americans face. But, what is it? And why are some people impacted by anxiety while many are not? Here's three things you might not know:
1. Anxiety is normal
Anxiety is a normal part of our lives and everybody feels anxious at one point or another. Anxiety has many forms that include worrying, feeling nervous, intrusive thoughts, and difficulty sleeping. You might feel anxious the night before a big presentation or maybe before getting on a roller coaster. Anxiety protects us and is an adaptive feeling. If, for example, I'm on a walk and I see what appears to be a rabid dog, I'm going to get anxious. Feeling anxious is a signal to my brain that the situation is potentially dangerous and that I need to do something to protect myself.
2. There are different kinds of anxiety disorders
For this blog, we'll focus on three of them: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. GAD is characterized by excessive worrying, difficulty controlling the worry, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, and irritability. Panic disorder causes frequent and unexpected panic attacks that may include heart palpitations, chest pain, sweating, trembling, and a feeling of intense fear. People who struggle with social anxiety disorder have an intense fear of social situations and experience anxiety related to feeling embarrassed, judged, or rejected by their peers or other individuals.
3. Anxiety can be alleviated
People who struggle with anxiety disorders have options. When I work with individuals who struggle with anxiety, I utilize aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. I help my clients look for faulty or irrational beliefs that cause their anxiety. I encourage them to look for evidence for their anxious thoughts and then replace those thoughts with new, adaptive ways of thinking. I also encourage my clients to be mindful when they are experiencing anxiety. Mindfulness is a school of thought that encourages us to be present in the moment- and to not worry about things in the past or things coming up in the future.