Anxiety is a fear-based, psychophysiological phenomenon that almost everyone experiences from time to time. It can be experienced as a signal that something “isn’t right,” or as a highly dreaded, incapacitating condition that interferes with one’s physical, emotional, cognitive, academic, interpersonal, and/or social functioning. In any case, it is rarely pleasureable.
Anxiety can manifest as panic, or as a phobia about a specific object or circumstance (for example, test-taking, snakes, air travel, or social gatherings), or as compulsive, ritualistic behaviors aimed at making the world feel safe.
Anxiety can also manifest as excessive worries, or a generalised sense of physical discomfort-shortness of breath, sweaty palms, heart palpitations, concentration problems, and the like.
Unfortunately, untreated anxiety often leads to real physical illness, since heightened, long-term fear responses affect the immune system and flood the body with stress hormones.
Although the World Health Organisation estimates that about 16 percent of people worldwide meet criteria for an anxiety disorder, anxiety is highly treatable. Most psychological treatments for anxiety consist of two parts-relaxation training, which encompasses a group of behavioral interventions focused on training the body to relax; and cognitive restructuring, or challenging distorted thoughts and addressing avoidant behaviors that frequently accompany anxiety symptoms.
In worst case scenarios, anxiety can also be treated with medication, but medication alone is rarely efficacious in the long-term.
While everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, chronic anxiety is bad for your health. If you think you have an “anxiety disorder,” you should consult with a psychologist. Most psychologists are well-trained and quite experienced in treating anxiety disorders.
Other ways to manage your anxiety include finding ways to relax, reassuring yourself that anxiety is a normal physiological experience and that you can handle it, reaching out to friends and family, and managing your emotions rather than avoiding them.
(The above was submitted by the Grenada Psychological Association)