What Is Anxiety?
Stress, worries, and fears are a normal part of our lives. But when these anxieties and fears take control, become excessive, and began to negatively affect our day-to-day life, they then meet the criteria to be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. Studies show that 25–30% of children and adolescents will develop an anxiety disorder. This makes anxiety disorder one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in young people.
Anxiety can present in many ways. Some sufferers may have physical symptoms such as headaches, racing heart, and stomach aches. Others may become more socially withdrawn, begin performing poorly in school, or developed panic attacks. Another presentation of anxiety may be inattention and increased irritability.
What Causes Anxiety?
When someone dwells on “what if,” this causes anticipation of negative events and avoidance of fear-triggering situations. A feeling of uncontrollability in a situation can lead to anxiety. Children learn to be anxious and fearful of their environments in many ways. A few examples include being told something is dangerous, experiencing a negative event, or perceiving an experience negatively. Adults who are anxious, overprotective, or overly critical can contribute to increased anxiety in children. Studies have also shown there are genetic factors that play a role in anxiety.
When Should I Talk To Someone About Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal part of life that can be triggered by life stressors as well as the environment. However, when this anxiety starts to impact our lives in negative ways, we need to talk with someone. If anxiety is negatively impacting school or work performance, affecting relationships, or leading to social avoidance, we should seek help.
What Can Be Done To Help Anxiety?
No one has to suffer from anxiety. Help is available. Counseling is beneficial in learning coping skills,
understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and helping change avoidant behavior to “brave behavior.” For times when anxiety has become more severe, there is also the option of medication. Medication helps increase the normal hormone (serotonin) in our brain associated with feelings of well-being. Studies have shown that doing something active such as going on a walk, playing a sport, or doing yoga can help increase this feel-good hormone and lead to reduced anxiety. Having a healthy diet also allows for increased production of serotonin.