Anxiety Symptoms

Stress or relax?

People often ask us if the anxiety they are feeling is normal, or if they are just weird or strange.   It isn’t weird or strange to have high anxiety – 1 in 5 people in the Western world will experience high anxiety, or another mental health issue, in their lifetime.  It is important to understand the difference between normal anxiety and stress responses, and the type of excessive anxiety that is persistent in your life and causes so much distress.  Stress and anxiety are a normal response to feeling under pressure, and usually pass when the cause for your stress or anxiety passes.  But with anxiety that doesn’t pass, and there doesn’t seem to be anything causing it, something more is going on.

Is your anxiety normal?

Excessive anxiety bothers many “normal” people and is a normal human response that has been learned – the beauty of this, and what many people don’t realize, is that it can also be unlearned. You can become anxiety free!

We often ask people about the thoughts, feelings, images, behaviors and physical sensations they may be experiencing when they are feeling anxious or having an anxiety attack. So to get you thinking about the levels of anxiety that you may be experiencing, and whether your experience is normal anxiety, or the more extreme anxiety that is causing you distress, we have posed a number of scenarios below.

Answer these quick questions –

  • Do you often feel dread, unease, apprehension, fear and worry that interferes with your day to day life?
  • Do you constantly worry about everything, unable to switch off unwanted thoughts and images?
  • Are these unwanted thoughts and images made up of impending catastrophes that invade your mind and take over your feelings?
  • Are these thoughts and images accompanied by physical sensations, such as dread, nausea, sweating, trembling or shaking, choking or constriction of your throat or chest, and/or racing heartbeat or palpitations?
  • Do you experience hot or cold flushes, dizziness, unsteadiness, faintness and/or a feeling of being unreal or distant?
  • Or worry about germs and contaminants so much that you constantly wash your hands and can’t stop?
  • What about meeting with and talking to others?
  • Do you worry so much so that you shy away from catching up with people and participating in family and/or social events? 
  • If you have answered yes to any of the scenarios above, do you also fear that you may lose control, make a fool of yourself, lose your mind, go crazy, become very ill, pass out, or die?

If so, you are experiencing higher than usual anxiety.  These are not anxiety levels that form part of our normal responses.  Rather, frightening thoughts, feelings, images, behaviors and physical sensations are a more extreme form of our natural anxiety response.

It’s not just in your head!

Stress Symptoms

Anxiety isn’t just happening in your head.  The human body has a whole system of responding to perceived danger.  When we feel excessive anxiety, we switch this system on to warn and protect us.  When we respond with excessive anxiety the human nervous system reacts in flight, fight or freeze mode to what it perceives to be a threat to our very being, despite the actual danger or risk being low.

There are different ways that you may be experiencing anxiety, such as those in the scenario’s above.  But the thing that everyone who suffers from anxiety has in common, is that excessive anxiety is uncomfortable and unbearable, lasts too long, interferes with the things we have to or want to do, goes beyond the level of actual danger or risk, and doesn’t respond readily to our attempts to control it. It can make us feel very alone – but you are NOT alone!

Anxiety can be treated!

Connect with othersExcessive anxiety that has no basis in actual danger or risk can be treated , and doesn’t need to cripple you or continue to make your life a misery. This site is dedicated to helping you find ways that will work to reduce your anxiety to normal levels, and help you get your life and your freedom back.

Go to our ‘Become Anxiety Free Today’ page for more information on how Anxiety works and how to free yourself from its crippling hold on you!

(Important Note: Of course, if you really are in actual danger, such as a violent relationship, or being threatened or abused in any way, your anxiety response is spot on and you need to do something about your environment or your situation! I urge you to seek help from trusted family or friends, support services in your community, or the authorities – you deserve to feel safe!)

2 thoughts on “Anxiety Symptoms

  1. Hi Desi,

    I am constantly under a lot of stress and anxiety at my workplace. To some extend, I would skip lunch because I just don’t have the appetite to eat.

    How can I make things better for myself?

    Thanks :)

    • Hi Cathy – managing stress at work or home is important to keep anxiety at manageable levels. It’s a bit hard to give you advice without knowing the kind of work or situation you are in, but you could start with (in no particular order);
      1. Check your physical health – sometimes physical health conditions impact our mental and emotional health and make us susceptible to feeling more stressed and overwhelmed – have you recently had a thorough physical check by your local doctor?
      2. Although your appetite is reduced, try and have some healthy snacks and lots of water regularly throughout the day to give your body fuel to fight the effects of stress. Light foods such as salads, fruit and nuts are good for this and not too heavy on your stomach.
      3. Get enough good quality sleep to help with workloads and stressful situations. Sleep hygiene is important for this.
      4. Looking at ways to reduce the stress at work where possible would be good to aim for. Can you talk to a manager or colleugue about the stressors at work and what you might be able to put in place to help reduce them? For example some time management tips eg by prioritising workloads we can get important work done and stop us from getting sidetracked by less important time wasting tasks.
      5. Practising regular (daily) breathing and relaxation exercises will calm your body’s nervous system and reduce the stress hormone cortisol (I am writing a post about this and will publish it soon).
      6. Regular physical exercise will help you eliminate stress from your body and help lift your mood. Even a half hour of brisk walking 3-4 times a week will help – you need to get your heart rate up to get the best results, so walking fast will do the trick. Cortisol levels are reduced (the stress hormone), and your body releases feel-good endorphins and the feel good hormones seratonin and dopamine. This then helps you cope with stress and anxiety, physically, mentally and emotionally.
      I am writing some posts at the moment about breathing and relaxation techniques so stay tuned. I hope that helps. You can also connect with a therapist in your area who can help you with these and more strategies.

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