Understanding anxiety


Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.  Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside — when they are ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life.


What causes anxiety?

It’s often a combination of factors that can lead to a person developing anxiety.

Risk factors that can be associated with the development of anxiety include:

  • Serious physical health problems
  • Change in living arrangements
  • Family and relationship problems
  • Major emotional shock following
  • A stressful or traumatic event
  • Verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma
  • Death or loss of a loved one
  • Substance use
  • Family history
  • Personality factors (such a being a perfectionist, easily flustered, lack self-esteem or want to control everything).

Everyone is different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to a person developing anxiety. It’s important to note that you can’t always identify the cause of it or change difficult circumstances.


Signs and symptoms of anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience some anxiety at some points in time, it can be hard to know how much is too much.

There are many types of anxiety. While the symptoms for each type are different, some general signs and symptoms include:

  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Racing heart
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Snowballing worries
  • Obsessive thinking and;
  • Compulsive behaviour.

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