The Emotional Impact of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders affect millions of men and women every year, and most people experience a combination of emotional and physical symptoms depending on the severity of their condition.
Anxiety disorders range from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and social anxiety disorder, but almost all have the same spectrum of emotional symptoms that have significant effects on the person’s well-being and emotional health.
The primary symptoms associated with all anxiety disorders is excessive, even irrational fear or worry about a particular situation, place or thing. However, the following emotional symptoms can also be present, and can occur frequently, or become a part of the person’s personality:
1. Anticipating the worst. Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder are always preparing for the worst, and expect negative things to happen. This can perpetuate a cycle of negative thinking, and may lead to depression, more anxiety and other problems.
2. Agitation or restlessness. Anxiety disorders often leave the person feeling uneasy or uncomfortable in certain situations. In some cases, the sufferer may experience constant restlessness even when trying to relax at home. This is because they have gotten into the habit of maintaining a heightened sense of awareness, and may have become particularly sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment.
3. Feeling jumpy or tense on a regular basis. Most people who have even the mildest forms of anxiety disorder will feel as though they are always on the edge, or have to “walk on eggshells.”
According to the United States National Mental Health Information Center, anxiety disorders can cause people to become “trapped in a pattern of repeated thoughts and behaviors such as counting or hand washing” just so they can reduce their feelings of tension and anxiety.
4. Watching for signs of danger. People who are always on the edge are usually looking for signs of danger, and may become preoccupied with risky situations or events. Most people who have anxiety disorders will always be on the lookout for danger, and be very careful about where they go or what they do.
5. Difficulty concentrating. When most of the day is spent being preoccupied with worry, anxiety and fear, people with anxiety disorders can find it very difficult to stay focused and concentrate. They may have difficulty sitting in one place for long periods of time to perform tasks at a job, complete schoolwork, or finish a project. Symptoms may be recognized as ADD or ADHD, but in many cases, the root cause is an anxiety disorder.
6. Irritability. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders do not get enough rest or sleep, and this can make them especially irritable or aggravated throughout the day. They may become irritated by slight changes in their schedule or routine, and can become overly sensitive to everyday situations. This can be improved with adequate rest and stress relief methods, but these habits will take time to develop.
There are several emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders that can adversely affect the sufferer’s life, and the lives of their friends and family. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step to addressing an anxiety disorder and finding the best course of treatment.
Holiday Season and that old friend anxiety
The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Last minute shopping, in-laws, and everyone on their best behavior…or not.
People with anxiety often count down the days to the merry season with mixed feelings. If you suffer from panic attacks regularly, you are probably well aware of the physical manifestations that you will probably experience as the holidays draw near.
The body’s goal of the fight or flight response is to make you aware of danger, but if you’re having a panic attack, this response can be triggered by a variety of stimuli.
Holiday stressors including shopping for friends and family, organizing holiday events, or just making travel arrangements can be difficult to deal with.
Here are some effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety over the holiday season:
Try the Symphony Technique:
In my book Panic Away, I talk about how to rate your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
The Symphony Technique allows you to imagine yourself as the conductor of a symphony orchestra, and all you need to do is start counting to a rhythm in your head. Just count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, in your head, and tap your feet on each number and move your hands as if you were a symphony conductor.
Now as you count, tell yourself the following: “I accept and process my anxious thoughts”, “I accept and process my bodily sensations”, “I accept and process my fear of panic”, and “I accept and process my beating heart”. As you say those words you conduct the bodily sensations. You are controlling the whole experience.
This is just a short example of how to use the symphony technique but what you are learning here is how to create inner movement. The inner movement is what helps you release the pent up feelings and allows you to feel more in control. By establishing a sense of control you feel much more confident in managing the anxiety.
Allow Yourself to Feel Anxious
Stuck in the crowds at the mall when holiday shopping?
Dreading a few days with the in laws?
Take a deep breath and let yourself feel the anxiety – this will help you release it. Acceptance is the first step because what we fully accept then goes through a transformation and is easier to manage.
Allowing yourself to feel anxious to the fullest will help you break out of the cycle of fearing your own thoughts, and allow your thoughts to simply flow.
This is an important part of accepting your fears, processing them and then moving on. You’ll feel more and more confident each time you do this, and will effectively help you work through your anxiety.
To learn how to reduce anxiety and better manage an oncoming panic attack, watch this video – How I Learned To Manage Panic Attacks & High Anxiety
By Barry McDonagh, who is an international panic disorder coach. He created the Panic Away program to help people around the world deal with their anxiety and avoid panic attacks – a subject that he is personally attuned to because he himself found that he was prone to these issues since he was young. His hatred of his powerless lead him down the path of finding natural ways to treat himself without having to depend on expensive medications.
His informative site on all issues related to panic and anxiety attacks can be found here: Anxiety Self-Help – How to Reduce Anxiety and better Manage an Oncoming Panic Attack?