We all experience fear and anxiety at times.
It’s a completely natural and helpful human emotion that helps us respond to danger — an automatic alarm that goes off in a challenging situation where we feel threatened, pressured or stressed.
We feel it when we’re about to jump on a roller coaster. When we’re gearing up for that big presentation or job interview. When we spot that giant spider in our bathroom. When we’re walking to the car alone, at night.
It can make you feel sweaty, shaky and panicked. It can make you short of breath, nauseous and your heart race.
Normally, the anxious feelings subside once the stressful situation has passed, or the stressor has been eliminated.
But for so many of us — we’re talking one in three Australian women and one in five men — this anxiety and worry becomes excessive, irrational and persistent to the point where it interferes with our daily life for what appears to be no obvious or logical reason.
This is when anxiety becomes a disorder.
Today, we’re sharing some insight into some of the common behaviours and triggers that can contribute to us experiencing these challenging emotions, and where we can turn for guidance.
Anxiety: what is it?
According to Australian National Youth Mental Health Association, Headspace, people with anxiety disorders experience persistent fear, worry or dread, which is out of proportion to the circumstances, causes them significant distress and/or interferes with their daily functioning.
There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, including phobia, agoraphobia and social, panic and generalised anxiety disorders.
What are the symptoms?
Although anxiety disorders manifest in people in a variety of different ways, Headspace describes some of the following emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physical changes as common symptoms of anxiety:
- Persistent worrying and excessive fears
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
- Easily distracted
- Avoidance of feared situations
- Social isolation or being withdrawn
- Excessive shyness
- Inability to relax
- Problems with work, social or family life
- Poor sleep
- Muscle tension
- Somatic (body) complaints
Common anxiety triggers
There are so many factors that can cause or contribute to anxiety disorders — from family history to lifestyle, ongoing stressful situations, relationship changes, emotional shock and trauma, abuse or death. It’s Important to identify the situations, patterns and behaviours that trigger anxiety and recognise the symptoms that go with them, in order to manage, alleviate or minimise its effect.
Here are some common anxiety triggers:
- Being in public or crowded places
- Being in the presence of a particular person
- Finances and money
- Speaking in front of people
- Being hurt, sick or in pain
- Thinking about the future
- Being alone
What do you do?
According to Beyond Blue, effective treatment helps people with anxiety to learn how to control the condition so it doesn’t control them. While the type of treatment will depend on the type of anxiety experienced, there is an abundance of health professionals, services and other resources out there that can help.
Different experts, from GPs to psychologists, psychiatrists, life and health coaches, counsellors and naturopaths can guide you through ‘treatments’ that explore everything from food, to lifestyle and exercise, relaxation and breathing techniques and other cognitive and behavioural therapies.
The key is to find the right guide for you and to work closely with them to tackle each trigger and find coping strategies that will help you manage the disorder.
Do you experience anxiety? What are some of the common triggers for you, and how do you manage it? Share with us in the comments below!