A woman experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety 101

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues and affects up to 40% of American adults. In this post, we’ll give an overview of what causes anxiety, talk about some common symptoms, risk factors and look at treatment options available to help control anxiety. 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the way our bodies respond to feelings of stress. It is an emotional and physical response that occurs when we feel nervous or fear future or unknown activities such as starting a new job or taking a big test. 

While everyone experiences nervousness or worry from time to time, it is usually connected to a specific situation and comes and goes over time. If your anxiety is with you non-stop, you have constant fear about everyday situations, or experience sudden intense feelings of fear and terror that affect the way you live your life, you may have an anxiety disorder. 

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

Everyone’s experience of anxiety is different. Some people may fear specific activities or events or simply a general feeling of fear or nervousness. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety can include:


  • Feeling tense or nervous
  • Feeling panic or a sense of impending danger
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating uncontrollably
  • Trembling
  • Feeling fatigued or weak
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Stomach upset or digestive problems

Types of Anxiety

There are many different types of anxiety and anxiety disorders, each with its own characteristics and challenges. They include:


Generalized Anxiety Disorder - characterized by persistent and excessive worry about many different things where the worry is out of proportion to the circumstances and is difficult to control. 


Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as social phobia) - This is the extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations.


Panic Disorders - These are the sudden onset of panic attacks that can include sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, a pounding heart or rapid heart rate, and feelings of dread.


Specific Phobias - This is an excessive fear of a particular object like spiders or snakes or a specific situation such as flying or swimming.


Separation Anxiety Disorder - Fear of being away from loved ones or home.


PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) - This is anxiety that occurs after a traumatic event.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is very common and affects most people at some point in their lives. Sometimes, however, there are other factors involved that can increase the risk of anxiety. 

Medical Causes:

Sometimes anxiety can result from a medical condition or issue that needs treatment, such as thyroid disorders, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders like COPD, emphysema, or asthma. It can also be a side effect from medication or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. 

Other Risk Factors:

Studies show that certain environmental or lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of anxiety, including:

  • Genetic Factors - Researchers have discovered that anxiety may be passed on genetically with a 30% heritability factor
  • Traumatic Events - We know that adults and children who have experienced trauma are more likely to develop anxiety. 
  • Low Self-Esteem 
  • Increased Stress - Many individuals cite increased stress at home or work as a reason for their anxiety.
  • Substance Abuse - Substance abuse can also increase or worsen anxiety

When to seek medical attention for your anxiety?

If your anxiety interferes with how you live your life or becomes more frequent and lasts longer than usual, you should seek medical help. Other symptoms that indicate you need help are difficulty concentrating, restlessness, increased irritability, difficulty sleeping, or muscle tension. 

Treatments For Anxiety

The good news is, most anxiety is very treatable. Therapy, Medication, and Complementary and Alternative Medications (CAM) are the most common ways to treat anxiety.

Therapy

Therapy can come in many forms, from group counseling to psychoanalysis to exposure therapy. 

The most effective form of therapy for anxiety is a form called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT. This form of therapy helps patients recognize thought patterns. It helps them understand how their thoughts and feelings influence their behavior so that they can learn to manage their anxiety. 

Medications

There are four main types of medication available to help treat anxiety. A healthcare provider must prescribe them, and many of these medications also have side effects. 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These medications help increase serotonin levels in the brain to help improve how you feel. 
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): These medications increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. 
  • Benzodiazepines: These treat the physical symptoms of anxiety by helping you relax and reducing tension. They are typically only used for the short term. 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: These medications help treat mood and physical symptoms. 

Complementary and Alternative Medications (CAM)

Many people find CAM treatments helpful for treating some anxiety symptoms. They can also be very helpful in combination with other treatments like therapy or medication. CAM treatments include meditation, exercise like walking or yoga, relaxation techniques, a healthy diet, and treatments like acupuncture and massage. 

Some products can help you control mild forms of anxiety, like the Beam anxiety necklace. This necklace allows you to manage your stress and anxiety before it becomes an issue on the physical and mental side. The necklace reminds you to calm down, enables you to focus on your breathing, and helps break the cycle of anxiety. 

Those seeking to control mild forms of anxiety should consider the Beam anxiety necklace. If you want to learn more about how the Beam anxiety necklace can help you break the cycle of anxiety and control your stress, read more about the science of how it works.