What is Anxiety?
We’ve all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. It could’ve been just before a presentation or when you touch your pocket and you don’t feel your phone. But this usually passes, and we find ourselves to have lost that nervousness quickly.
Having an anxiety disorder is different…
General anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. It’s an ongoing state of stress and worry that can fluctuate in severity over time. For people with GAD, as soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another arises.
Anxiety is often an overestimation of a threat combined with an under estimation of our ability to cope with it and to handle the consequences.
Some common thoughts and feelings amongst those with GAD include:
- Believing everyone is judging you
- Thinking you have to be perfect to avoid judgment
- Criticizing your every move and feeling like no matter what you do, you’re not good enough.
- Resenting yourself for not living up to others/your own standards
- Worried about every word choice when interacting with people
- Feeling unable and too afraid to speak up
- Knowing there’s nothing serious to be anxious about but being unable to shut the emotion down
Panic attacks due to anxiety show up in many forms. e.g. dizziness, increased heart rate, selective attention, fear, palpitations and breathlessness. Attacks and feelings of anxiety can make people with GAD withdraw from social situations and therefore they may come across as “anti-social” even though they cannot control it.
This is one reason why it’s important to find some coping mechanisms that work for you (e.g. the grounding method, processing your thoughts into rational and irrational, meditation, therapy) and identifying those around you that are in need of help.
Kiana Bamdad Third Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
NHS. 2016 Generalised anxiety disorder in adults. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/ [Accessed: 25 October 2018]
Segerstrom, S. C. And Miller, G. E. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004;130(4):601-630