Probably everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in life. We may get anxious over a test in school, over a ball game we or our children are in, when our car engine light suddenly comes on, or even when we go to visit a doctor, dentist, or counselor.
Anxiety is a natural emotion caused by turmoil within. It results by the dread of an unpleasant experience or perceived future threat, and produces a feeling of worry or uneasiness. While anxiety is a natural emotion, it should be temporary and infrequent. It can become harmful if an individual is regularly experiencing anxiety to an unusual degree resulting in an anxiety disorder.
Short-term mild anxiety is usually fine. Short-term acute anxiety (‘panic attacks’) and/or long-term anxiety is a cause for concern. These types of anxiety can have detrimental long-term effects on one’s health. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says about anxiety,
“Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment, even though the disorders are highly treatable.”
Drug use, even “mild” drugs like alcohol and caffeine, can cause or increase anxiety. Anxiety disorders are often associated with other psychological disorders such as eating disorders, depression, and some personality disorders.
Many other factors can cause or increase one’s vulnerability to anxiety disorders. Medical conditions can exacerbate anxiety. Poor coping skills can contribute to anxiety. Lack of social skills can cause a person to be anxious in crowds, or even in more intimate situations. And, things we can’t control such as genetics or our childhood can contribute to anxiety disorders.
The first step to decreasing anxiety is the recognition of the underlying causes. A counselor in anxiety disorders can help identify those causes, and find ways to overcome the anxiety to lead a less anxious life. Take your first step towards solving your anxiety(s) and seek help today.