What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety.

Just reading the word can be enough to make some people anxious! In our crazy world, the number of individuals suffering from anxiety has skyrocketed in recent years.  In 2020 alone, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%.

But what exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, fear, and dread. There are degrees of anxiety, and to a certain extent, it is a normal physiological response.

For example, when you have a project to complete at work or school, you may feel anxious about completing it on time and well. This anxiety usually evaporates as soon as the project or presentation is over.

This kind of anxiety is normal, even healthy. It can give you energy, motivate you to focus, and to meet a deadline.

However, anxiety can also have a darker side. For people with anxiety disorders, this anxiety is not temporary. It can be completely overwhelming, affecting their daily life, their relationships, their ability to work and to enjoy life.

Anxiety is different from worry. Worry is temporary; worry motivates you to use your problem-solving skills to address a temporary concern. Anxiety, however, sticks around, even when the concern is unrealistic.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms can vary considerably depending on the age of the individual.

In young children, common symptoms include:

  • Difficulties focusing in school
  • Fidgeting
  • Going to the bathroom often or having accidents
  • Changes in appetite
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Tantrums, difficulty regulating emotions
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Constantly worrying about unusual things
  • Phobias

In pre-teens, anxiety symptoms may include:

  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Having a hard time with new situations
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Recurring fears or worries
  • Suddenly becoming socially withdrawn
  • Afraid to say no
  • Needing constant reassurance
  • More self-conscious or insecure
  • Sensitive to perceived criticism
  • Drop in grades

In teenagers, symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Becoming easily emotional
  • Feeling easily overwhelmed
  • Becoming withdrawn socially
  • Excessively tired
  • Frequent rapid heart rate
  • Feeling disconnected or numb
  • Stomach aches, headaches, body aches
  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Suddenly getting in trouble in school

In young and middle-aged adults, anxiety symptoms can include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias

In older adults (aged 60+), anxiety symptoms tend to be more physical, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weakness

Whatever age a person experiences anxiety, it can be debilitating and overwhelming.

Anxiety does generally respond well to therapy. There are many different therapy modalities that can be helpful, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

At Given Guidance, we understand the profound effect that anxiety can have on a person. Our highly-trained, specialist therapists have the tools, experience, and empathy to help you move towards inner calm.

Schedule your first therapy session today with one of our caring counselors – call (818) 446-7488 or email us at info@givenguidance.com