WHAT IS ANXIETY?
 

Anxiety also known by the labels concern, worry, ˜nerves or nervousness, ˜stress, angst or ˜fear; we may hear ourselves or another say quiet directly I'm scared, I can't cope or ˜I feel as though I'm going mad, I feel under so much pressure.  Or indirectly I feel all prickly, I don't feel myself, I'm feeling all tied up in knots or my heart beats like lead and I'm sure you could add your own.

 

However anxiety is expressed in words the symptoms a person suffering from stress will have commonalities with every person who is anxious (see here)

WHAT ARE 'NERVES'?

 
Our nervous system consists of an intricate web of fibers all connected to each other and to all other parts of our inner world.

 

Our system has two parts, known as the voluntary nervous system and the involuntary nervous system.

 

  1. The voluntary nervous system directs the movement of the head and trunk, and we control it more or less as we wish, hence its name.  It consists of the brain and spinal cord, from which a number of paired nerves arise, each ending in the muscle it supplies.

  2. The involuntary nervous system is the second part controlling the internal organs such as the heart, blood vessels, lungs, intestines etc; this system controls the saliva and sweat glands.  Its centre is in the brain and is connected to our bodies with a delicate network of fibres lying on either side of the spinal column; many threadlike branches pass to the internal organs.  This second part is not under our immediate control but  it is directly affected by our moods.

HOW IS THIS PATTERN CAUSED?

 

The sympathetic nerves achieve the pattern when our Adrenal glands receive an impulse from the brain which excites the release of a substance called adrenalin. The adrenalin is then released into our blood stream and travels around our bodies through the network of fibres.  The adrenaline rush keeps us alert to any threats or dangers that may be about to spring forth and consume us for dinner so we can run away or to catch our food when we were cavemen and woman; in this modern age we no longer need the rush of adrenalin on a daily basis but our bodily systems still work the same 'as if' we were still the hunter and the hunted.

WHAT IS THE PATTERN OF FEAR?

 

When we feel afraid, scared, insecure or bereft we sometimes feel that horrible sensation in the 'pit of our stomach'. This is the most distressing component of fear; however the complete picture of stress includes all the symptoms induced by the release of adrenalin. The intensity of how we experience the feelings of the release of adrenalin will vary on each individual persons personal body and depending how long and how much adrenalin has been released by our adrenal glands.

Anxiety is a multidimensional state of emotional arousal of our adrenal system. The release of adrenaline can be both beneficial and detrimental to us; in its positive form it makes us alert, motivated, increases blood flow to our organs, gives us that feeling of being superhuman – the adrenalin rush.  The rush is short lived and usually accompanies something exiting such as bungy jumping, sky diving, getting marriage, having a baby; starting a new job etc.   It is a whole-body response to the release of adrenaline and once the physical activity is over, or the new has been achieved our adrenal system calms down and returns to normal.

Our adrenal system is part of our flight or fight response and it involves our whole being, from our brain to our nervous system our physical bodies get filled with adrenaline.  When we were cave men and woman needing to run away from predators or run to catch our food adrenaline was very useful but modern man doesn’t need to run away from getting eaten or to eat. 

Our amygdala a part of our brain is monitoring all our senses constantly and send signals to another part of our brain known as the hypothalamus which in turn activates our sympathetic nervous system and the release of adrenaline.  Ready to fight, flight or freeze.

This causes our body to be ready to flee, stand and fight or freeze in the face of threat.

 

Our adrenal systems works exactly the same now as it did in the caveman days, but we don’t use the adrenalin release up in our daily lives; the results are more and more people are getting ‘stressed’ on a daily basis and feeling the effects of their  worn and fatigued  adrenal systems.  If the adrenalin is not used up as it is released, over time our adrenal system gets overstimulated and becomes over sensitised, the affects of an over sensitised adrenal system is far reaching and has detrimental affects on our lives. 

 

Saturated in adrenalin is the cause of many anxiety disorders for example:

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - this leave a person feeling anxious and angst, worrying about different things and nothing in particular or specific but experiencing an overall edginess, fretfulness and fearfulness.  Because it is general people will be affected by many and differing symptoms. This website might be useful https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - is suffered after a traumatic event that you were involved in or was a witness too; it can cause panic, flash backs, distress, nightmare,  be 'as if' the trauma was happening all over again. This website might be useful https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

Complex post traumatic stress disorder C-PTSD) - similar to PTSD it usually develops over time and is the result of prolonged or continual trauma for example childhood sexual abuse, witnessing a loved one' prolonged illness which they die from such as cancer or a child with life-shortening and life threatening diagnosis's. 

Panic disorder - the person experiencing panic can experience extreme distress and anxiety; often the trigger is not known to the sufferer and they can be fearful and fearful they are going to panic and die when in a panic state.  This in itself can trigger or prolong a panic attack.

Specific Phobias - this is  extreme anxiety and fear of a particular situation i.e. public speaking or an entity such as mice or spiders.  In this state the person often avoids that which they are fearful of but this can interfere with social relationships and can affect which job a person may take. This website might be useful https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/

Social phobia - anxiety is triggered by the fear of social situations where you would be expected to talk with other people either face-to-face, on the telephone or even by connecting with others on email.  Often heard is "I don't know what to say" or the person avoids contact with others or new people. It also involves phobia of social events.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)  - there are many different tracks of OCD in general OCD is experiencing thoughts, feelings, behaviours or urges that are switched on to repeat automatically and out of our immediate control.   Behaviours include ruminations, contamination, intrusive thoughts, checking, hoarding.  This website might be useful ttp://ocduk.org/types-ocd

Relationship OCD - is experiencing obsessive doubts, fears and thoughts about the relationship you are in whether that be with a partner or your personal sexuality.  If you are experiencing relationship OCD you are probably constantly analyzing the depth or the feelings of your partner, does s/he really love me and focus on the negative findings which is usually after a fault-finding mission.  Or obsessing on your sexuality, focusing on whether or not you are attracted to the same sex.  This website might be useful  http://ocduk.org/types-ocd

Health anxiety  - is also a form of OCD it is a focus upon one' health either here and now or in the future and that they are or are more than likely to suffer some life threatening illness.  If you have health anxiety you are more than likely to be obsessively thinking about any and all symptoms you may feel and be fixated on them as the cause of something  much more harmful then they actual are.  For example an headache is obsessed  into a brain tumour, a  tight chest is obsessed into an imminent heart attack and so on. This website might be useful https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/health-anxiety/

Situational anxiety - also known as stage fright or situational phobia for example hearing someone vomit, fear of heights, flying in an plane and can be a phobia or fear inducing situation that is out of our daily interactions.  It is a normal reaction to stressful situations, we need a certain amount of adrenalin realise to help us face certain situations in our day.  However it is a fear of something specific in those moments for example most of us have watched the celebrities in the jungle and how they face their situational fears or not.  If specific things give your anxiety and interfere with your living that you may be suffering with situational anxiety.

 

Adjustment anxiety - Similar to situational anxiety it is anxiety about change for example following a divorce, bereavement, an accident or illness which may render you disabled and unable to undertake activities which you were once able to perform.  Adjustment anxiety usually develops days or weeks sometimes a few months or as long as two years later as a reaction following a traumatic event and it may include depression. 

Separation anxiety - is anxiety about being separated from what we are familiar with for example environments, people we love or an attachment figure/s in our life.  If we are experiencing separation anxiety we are experiencing  excessive fear and anguish being separated from an  emotional attachment.   It is a natural process of human development , however if the yearning and distress doesn't fade and is prolonged then we may be suffering with anxiety due to being separated.  It is common to think only toddlers and children suffer from separation anxiety; however, this can also affect adults  through a death, through a divorce, splitting up with a partner or for children being separated from the significant care-givers i.e. parents, siblings, or extended family members.  This website might be useful https://www.evidence.nhs.uk/Search?ps=30&q=separation+anxiety 

The above are just a dozen of the many many anxiety disorders us humans can suffer which are presented in practice -  but don't suffer in silence.  If you are concerned about your health then  seek an appointment with your GP to gain a diagnosis and contact a professionally trained counsellor who can help guide and support you through your anxiety. 

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