What is an Anxiety disorder?
When seeking help to understand and recover from anxiety, often defined as an anxiety disorder, it is important to first understand how stress impacts your mind and body. For example, if you are walking the in nature and were to spot a bear, it would immediately trigger a stress response in your body. The stress response involves your nervous system which will become aroused and generate physical symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart beat, a surge of adrenaline and heightened senses. This is often called ‘fight or flight’ and puts your mind and body on ‘high alert’ so you can respond appropriately by running away, defending yourself, or freezing to avoid detection.
This is a completely normal response and clearly very useful to help you avoid or remove yourself from danger. Once the danger has passed, your nervous system will calm down and you will relax.
Anxiety works in exactly the same way as stress, however, often it occurs in response to perceived threats that may never occur, worrying thoughts about the past or future, or to everyday events that a non-sufferer would not react to or worry about.
Read more about anxiety signs and symptoms.
Most people will experience some level of anxiety in their lifetime, however, when it persists on an ongoing basis and starts to influence and impact a persons daily life it can be extremely unpleasant and cause some level of suffering. This is often what people mean when they use the label anxiety disorder.
Anxiety & Panic attacks
Anxiety or panic attacks are effectively shorter, sharper burst of anxiety whereby a highly sensitised nervous system floods the body with adrenaline and more severe physical symptoms as though it was responding to an immediate danger. This mimics the flight or fight response your body would generate should you be chased by a bear or other dangerous animal.
An anxiety or panic attack can therefore be an extremely intense and scary experience as the flood of adrenaline tricks the sufferer to believing they are in immediate danger. This is why those who suffer from panic attacks often express a fear of dying, even though no immediate danger exists.
Read more about Panic Disorder & Panic Attacks
Anxiety can be a very frustrating problem, as most people who suffer from it, are aware that their fears or worries aren’t always rational, however, they still struggle to stop the rumination and in turn the physical anxiety symptoms. In truth, anxiety is extremely common and with the right help, it can be overcome completely.