Health

Anxiety &How to deal with it.

Understand Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming and can be crippling. Anxiety can be caused by one, or a combination of factors. These include genetic factors, ongoing stress, family background, physical health issues, or a traumatic event. Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. It is distinguished from fear which is an emotional response to a perceived threat, whereas anxiety is related to situations perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable. Also, it is a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events. The physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, muscle weakness, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches or headaches. Also, external signs of anxiety include pale skin, sweating, trembling and papillary dilation. The person who has anxiety might also experience it as a sense of dread or panic. The emotional effects may include ‘feelings of apprehension or dread’ trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability restlessness, watching/waiting for signs or occurrences of danger and feeling like one’s mind is gone blank, as well as nightmares, obsessions about sensations and feeling like everything is scary. It feels a bit like fear but whereas we know what we are frightened of, we often don’t know what we are anxious about. Anxiety is defined as “a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill” (Merriamwester, 2012). Students experiencing academic anxiety feel apprehensive aver academic tasks. Students can feel anxiety related to every academic task. Some may only feel anxiety related to test taking or other specific tasks. Anxiety is not always negative. Some students can be motivated by anxiety.

Causes of anxiety

Anxiety is often triggered by stress in our lives. Some of us are more vulnerable to anxiety than others, but even those who become anxious easily can learn to manage it well. We can also make ourselves anxious with “negative self-talk” – a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen. While there are some known risk factor for anxiety, the cause of anxiety is relatively unknown. Here are some of the potential factors that could cause a person to suffer from anxiety.

Stress

Stress is a major catalyst for anxiety. Anxiety can come from numerous daily stressors (work, relationships, etc.), and those who don’t adequately deal with stress run a higher risk of developing chronic anxiety.

Chemical Imbalance

Some research suggests that anxiety may be linked to certain neurotransmitters or special chemicals in the brain that move information from one cell to another. Disturbances or imbalances in these neurotransmitters can cause numerous problems, including anxiety.
Anxiety can also be caused by disturbances to the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear and anxiety.

Genetics & Family History

Genes and upbringing can also play a role in anxiety.
People raised in a stressful or tension-filled home have a greater chance of developing anxiety. The same is true of children raised by overbearing, overprotective, or over-demanding parents.
Anxiety often develops in children who are put under pressure to exceed in school, sports, or other activities. Also, children who grow up in abusive homes run a much higher risk of developing anxiety and panic attacks.

Trauma

Stressful events and trauma can lead to the development or generalized anxiety disorder. These include physical, mental, or sexual abuse, divorce, changing jobs or schools, or death of a loved one.
Severely traumatic episodes, such as war, can cause stronger types of anxiety, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Medications
Some medications ( such as amphetamines, decongestants, diet pills, and bronchodilators) can cause anxiety as a side-effect, while withdrawal from other substances (drugs, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol) can also cause anxiety. Medications designed to treat anxiety, can, unfortunately, also cause rebound anxiety if they are not managed properly.
Other cause of Anxiety:
Family History of mental health issues can be a contributing factor. But it doesn’t mean if there are mental health issues in your family you will develop anxiety.
Ongoing stressful situations such as job issues or changes, unstable accommodation, family or relationship breakdown and grief. If you have experienced physical, sexual, verbal abuse, life-threatening events or pregnancy and childbirth you may be at risk.
Physical health issues can be the underlying cause of anxiety disorders. There can be anxiety links for people who suffer from asthma, diabetes, heart disease and hormonal issues, such as thyroid problems. Sometimes anxiety symptoms are the first indication of a physical health issue.
Substance abuse, particularly cannabis, amphetamines, alcohol and sedatives can trigger anxiety symptoms. Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can also cause withdrawal-related anxiety.
Personality types such as being a perfectionist, low self-esteem or the need to be in control can make people more susceptible to anxiety.
Environmental and external factors: Environmental factors that are known to cause several types of anxiety include: a) Trauma from events such as abuse, victimization, or the death of a loved one, b) Stress in a personal relationship, marriage, friendship, and divorce, c)Stress at work, d)Stress from school, e)Stress about finances and money, f) Stress from a natural disaster, g) Lack of oxygen in high altitude areas.
Medical Factors: Anxiety is associated with medical factors such as anaemia, asthma, infections, and several heart conditions. Some medically related causes of anxiety include a) Stress from a serious medical illness, b) Side effects of medication, c) Symptoms of a medical illness, d) Lack of oxygen from emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung)
Other emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety are:

Emotional symptoms:

• Excessive worry about the past, present or future
• Feeling apprehensive
• Feeling powerless
• A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
• Mind racing, finding it hard to think
• Difficulty concentrating and remembering things.

Physical symptoms

• Increased heart rate
• Breathing rapidly ( hyperventilation) or shortness of breath
• Sweating
• Trembling
• Feeling tired or weak
• Dizziness
• Choking
• Dry mouth
• Stomach or chest pain
• Diarrhoea
• Blushing
• Muscle tension and headaches
• Difficulty sleeping and nightmares
Types of Anxiety:
Five different types of anxieties i.e.
• Academic anxiety,
• Test anxiety,
• Self-anxiety,
• Death anxiety,
• Social anxiety.

Anxiety is a commonplace experience that everyone has from time to time. It concretely because it has so many different potential causes and degrees of intensity. The reviews of literature available in the field of anxiety reveal that there are five major types of anxieties that can influence adolescent’s life. These five types of

anxieties are described as follows:

 

1. Academic Anxiety:

The era of competition makes students more anxious and the eagerness of whether they can do well in their academic part or perform well in academic activities may adversely affect the mental health of students. It is the painful uneasiness of mind while doing or focusing on academic activities in school or at home. Educational or academic anxiety is a kind of anxiety which relates to the imminent danger from the environment of the educational institutions together with the teacher and certain subjects like chemistry, physics from numerical, mathematics, and English to some extent for some north Indian states. It is a mental sensitivity of uneasiness or distress in response to school or college circumstances that is perceived negatively. Academic anxiety afflicts students during school-related situations. If academic anxiety isn’t properly addressed, it can have many serious and lasting consequences, such as causing a student to procrastinate, perform poorly on school work, fail in classes and withdraw from socializing with peers or pursuing activities that interest him. Academic anxiety is, to a certain extent, unavoidable, necessary, and even productive, since it motivates to spend time for academic tasks. However, when anxiety elevates above this productive lever, negative outcomes such as, lack of concentration during study time, losing focus during study and attention difficulties occur. Academic anxiety can become more detrimental over time. As a student’s academic performance suffers, the anxiety level related to certain academic tasks increases (Huberty, 2012).

2. Test Anxiety:

It is a condition wherein someone emotionally or physically experiences distress at prior, during or after taking an exam. In other words, ‘too much anxiety about a test is commonly referred to as test anxiety’. Test anxiety is uneasiness, apprehension or nervousness felt by students who are afraid of failing an exam. Sweating, dizziness, headaches, racing heartbeats, nausea, fidgeting and drumming on a dark are the common symptoms. During the rest, one cannot recall material that he/she has studied and really know and his / her performance on tests consistently falls below the expectations. Test Anxiety is actually a type of performance anxiety- a feeling someone might have in a situation where performance really counts or when the pressure is on to do well. For example, a person might experience performance anxiety when he or she is about to try out for the school play, sing a solo on stage, step onto the platform in a diving meet, or go into an important interview. Like other situations in which a person might feel performance anxiety, test anxiety can bring on “butterflies,” a stomachache, or a tension headache. Some students might feel shaky, sweaty, or feel their heart beating quickly as they wait for the test to b given out. A student with really strong test anxiety may even feel like he or she might pass out or throw up. Test anxiety has become a more frequently studied construct in educational psychology and a primary concern in the testing and assessment field. Zeinder (1998) defines test anxiety as the set of phenomenological, physiological and behavioural responses that accompany concern about possible negative consequences or failure on an exam or similar evaluate situations. It has been found that students consistently perceive examination as a source of an increase in anxiety and a situation engulfed with uncertainty/unfairness in letting them demonstrate their true achievements (Zollar & Ben-chain, 1990; Spielberger, 1985). Such feelings among students’ limit their potential performance during the test situation, resulting in higher text anxiety (Hill & Wigfield, 1984) directly causing the drop in the student achievement.

3. Self-Anxiety:

It is the most common, widespread form of anxiety. It affects millions of people throughout the world. It is usually defined as an on-going state of tension over something ephemeral or unrealistic. In other words, an individual remains always worried about nothing in specific or something that makes no sense being worried about himself. The common symptoms of self-anxiety are a presence of interfering thoughts, self-task or activity which causes anxiety, the presence of physiological-emotional upset such as nausea, butterflies or seating. The individuals show inappropriate behaviours such as panic attacks, study avoidance etc. Such type of anxiety restricts the individual to live his normal life. Since the person suffering from self-anxiety remains preoccupied with ‘what ifs’ and worst-case scenarios, his/her development is effected to a large extent. The higher level of anxiety interferes with his/her day to day life- all this with no positive payoff. The person suffering from self-anxiety becomes unable to stay calm and collected and thus fails to look at life from a positive perspective.

4.Death Anxiety:

It is the morbid, abnormal or persistent fear of death or dying. It is a feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude(anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying or ceasing to be or what happens after death. The person suffering from suffering from such type of anxiety disorder shows symptoms like excessive fear of the dark, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, light headache or fainting, rapid heartbeat and dry mouth. In the most severe cases, he/she can feel nauseous and short of breath or might even experience a full-blown panic attack. The person suffering from such type of disorder remains preoccupied with random thoughts of death, fears of dark and even panic attacks in the alone. Thus, the person suffering from death anxiety remains in the terror of dying and shows excessive abnormal behaviours even int the most normal situations.

5. society Anxiety:

This type of anxiety may be termed as the fear of attending social situations, interaction with others and being evaluated or scrutinized by other people.In other words,social anxiety involves intense feelings of fear in social situations and especially situations that are unfamiliar or in which he/she will be watched or evaluated by others.some of common symptoms of social anxiety are escaping from the group situations such as marriages, peer groups, continuously thinking that every one is watching him/ her, getting afraid to talk to the strangers, becoming too much self-conscious. people suffering from social anxiety hate to work with in the groups because of lack of confidence in talking or because of lack of confidence in talking or working with others. such individuals has intense fear of social situations and especially situations that are unfamiliar to them. Social anxiety disorder is a debilitating and chronic illness characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations.The persons suffering from this disorder tent to remain alone most of the time. such type of fear and anxiety leads to the feeling of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation and in the most severe cases ,depression. The common type of social anxiety are specific and generalized social anxieties. A specific social anxiety in the fear of speaking in front of groups only, whereas, people suffering from generalized social anxiety are anxious, nervous and uncomfortable in almost all social situations. Social anxiety disorder is a debilitating and chronic illness characterized by “a marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations involving exposure to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others” ( furmark 2002, p 84; Schneider 2006, 1030). Most teachers will have students with social anxiety and /or academic anxiety.Social anxiety can also affect a student’s academic performance. If a student has social anxiety, the student might not be able to complete group tasks might not feel comfortable asking for help in class. Social anxiety can go along with lead to academic anxiety. Teaching students self-regulation can reduce anxiety and increase academic performance (Ader & Erktin, 2010).

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times, many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. Anxiety is more than just a feeling as a product of body’s fight-or-flight response, Anxiety a wide range of physical symptoms. Main causes of anxiety or stress, chemical imbalance, genetics &family history, trauma, some medications (such as amphetamines, decongestants, diet pills, and bronchodilators). Other causes include; family history of mental health issues; Ongoing stressful; physical health issues; substances abuse, personality types environmental factors that are known to cause several types of anxiety include; a) Trauma from events such as abuse, victimization, or the death loved one, b) stress in personal relationship, marriage, friendship and divorce, c) stress at work d) stress from school e) stress about finances and money, f) stress from a natural disaster, g) lack of oxygen in high altitude areas. Anxiety is associated with medical factors such as anemia, asthma, infections, and several heart conditions. Some medically-related causes of anxiety include a) Stress from a serious medical illness, b) Side effects of medication, c) Symptoms of a medical illness, d) Lack of oxygen from emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung). There are several recognized types of anxiety, including i.e. Academic anxiety, Test anxiety, Self-anxiety, Death anxiety, and Social anxiety. Social and academic anxiety can have a negative effect on a student’s academic performance. Teachers and parents can learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in students. If teachers and parents help students learn to control anxiety early on, more serious academic problems related to anxiety can be avoided.

Papa Rao Pasupuleti
M.A.,M.Sc.,M.Ed.,M.Phill.,APSET., (Ph.D)
You can contact the author @
paparao1977@gmail.com

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