Anxiety is a very broad complaint that covers a variety of issues. We all suffer from anxiety at one time or another and that’s not a bad thing. It is part of our in built defence mechanism that alerts us to danger and prepare us to act. The problem is when there is no real danger or the concern is blown out of all proportion. In these cases it can prevent us from functioning normally both in work and personal social environments.
The Physical effects of anxiety are very real even if the danger is only imagined. As part of our In built defence mechanism no matter how it’s triggered the body reacts in the same way. To the body you are entering a potential threat situation so it needs to prepare. It begins by pumping adrenaline into the system in readiness for “fight or flight”, the breathing and heart rate increase to pump more blood and Oxygen around the body. Meanwhile the brain is activating the sympathetic nervous system which causes the body to become tense and more alert, it also triggers the adrenal-cortical system which releases about 30 different hormones into the body in readiness for the perceived threat.
These hormones released into the system can cause the following physical reactions:
- Increased heart rate.
- Dilated Pupils
- Constriction of veins in the skin, which cause the chilly sensation often associated with fear.
- Increased blood glucose.
- Tensing of muscles and “goose bumps”.
- Shutting down of nonessential systems such as digestion and the immune system.
- Difficulty in concentrating on small tasks.
Of course all of these reactions are relative to your state of anxiety and are not apparent in every case.
Anxiety can be sub divided into a number of more specific issues, many of which you will have heard of click on each one to find out more:
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Worrying about life in general and everyday matters.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This can be subdivided in two forms of the condition;
- Generalised Social Anxiety; this effects most if not all areas of life and is the most common form.
- Performance Social Anxiety; where feelings only occur in a few specific situations such as public speaking, eating in public, dealing with authority figures.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Anxiety following a traumatic event such as war or assault.
- Panic Disorder: Anxiety that leads to frightening Panic attacks.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Anxiety that can only be calmed with routines and rituals.
- Exam Anxiety: Anxiety about exams or tests that hamper performance.
- Specific Phobias: Irrational and deliberating fear of specific objects or situations