Going through the occasional bout of anxiety is a normal thing, but individuals who live with anxiety disorders have frequent bouts of very intense, persistent and high levels of fear and worry, even of the most mundane life situations. The usual occurrence that signals there is something wrong is experiencing repeating episodes of intense fear that are often sudden in nature, and these fears cause reactions in the body – panic attacks – within minutes.
These reactions are difficult to control, and they can interfere with daily activities. The problem is that they are hard to understand, unless you live or have lived with someone that experiences it. They also tend to amplify the actual danger, and they can last for a long time. Their symptoms usually start in the teen years or during childhood, and they continue into adulthood. Many of the sufferers turn to drugs as well, which makes the problem greater, and they also do not seek help, until later on their lives in forums such as therecoveryvillage.com.
Anxiety disorders come in many forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, social anxiety, and phobias. It is important to note that there is no specific cause of anxiety disorders, and evidence proves that multiple factors will lead to the condition.
As with any other mental or physical illnesses, your genetics can play a role in determining your chances of getting anxiety and developing certain symptoms.
You do not have to be left in the dark about your chances though – advances in medical technology and methods have given researchers a chance to see the genes that might lead to the development of certain conditions, including anxiety. However, this research is still in its starting stages – but its continued advancement can be an important breakthrough for people at risk of developing anxiety.
For instance, the first degree relatives of a person with the condition have higher chances of developing the condition, such as your child, sibling or parent. Women also have higher chances of developing the symptoms – in fact, their chances of getting it are twice as high as that of men.
Structure of the brain
The brain has a collection of structures that are referred to as the limbic system, and their job is regulating your basic emotional reactions. Even though they are under the control of the ‘logical’ side of your brain, they can also respond to various stimuli on their own.
One of the most important components of this system is the amygdala, which senses and responds to fear and associated reactions, in addition to integrating emotions and memories. Much of the research about it is dedicated to conditions such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and PTSD, but it can also apply to anxiety disorders as well.
The other component is the gray matter, as increasing volumes of gray matter in certain sections of the brain increase the chances of the person developing anxiety disorders, especially in children.
This is among the greatest causes of anxiety disorders developing in a person, even in adulthood. For instance, traumatic events, especially in the childhood and teen years can increase the chances of someone developing anxiety disorder. These include witnessing traumatic events like road accidents, the death of a loved one, mental and physical abuse, and going through divorce, neglect, abandonment, and even isolation.
This leads to a reaction of anxiety even to situations that seem harmless to other people. The person has a hard time interpreting events accurately, and they can see a situation as dangerous even when it is not. It is therefore essential that mental and medical health practitioners gather the social and family history of the patient, in addition to medical history, to help them make an accurate diagnosis.
Learned behavior is also a risk factor. This means that as a child, if you had a caregiver that showed signs of anxiety disorders, you might show that same behavior yourself. The impact of caregivers on you is high, particularly when you consider that you learn much of your stress handling techniques from them. The unhealthier their methods were, you might develop the same tactics, even unconsciously.
Too much of a good thing is bad for you, and that is most evident in the realm of social media. Out of all the people you see on social media platforms, about 30 percent of them will be actively engaging on these platforms for at least 15 hours a week. The use of social media in excessive amounts might be among the reasons of increasing cases of depression and anxiety. It can also lead to increasing feelings of humiliation, loneliness, abandonment, or rejection.
An individual living with the condition has a harder time trying to interpret social cues accurately, and this can make them feel an increasing sense of danger in interactions that happen in real life. Social media is even more challenging to navigate because of the missing of non-verbal cues in communication such as voice tone and body language.
The use of drugs and everyday addictive items such as caffeine can interfere with the overall functions of your brain and increase the feeling of nervousness or worry, which is a major factor in the development of anxiety. The world we live in constantly pushes us to perform, and this can leave you drained in many aspects of your life – financially, socially, mentally, emotionally and physically. Relying on these substances to get you through a tough day can increase the likelihood of anxiety.
Relationships are another factor. They can be a source of high comfort levels, or they can be a source of great levels of frustration. Women particularly go through factors relating to anxiety within harmful relationships – these are going through dangerous experiences in their relationships like verbal and physical abuse, and humiliation by their partners or ex-partners.
Work is also another factor of stress, and when you are not careful, it can trigger development of the disorders. This even includes losing your job, or working very long hours.
It is not easy to control anxiety when it develops, but all the risk factors around us are under your control. You can do effective strategies that will help you cope with it as it happens, and you can also reach out for assistance when it becomes overwhelming.