Ebola. Spiders. Closed Spaces. Dating. Public Speaking. Sex. Airplanes.
What a strange assortment of topics. But they all have something in common. Each is capable of creating anxiety.
Anxiety is the mind and body’s natural response to a perceived danger. It’s an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened. But the sounding of the alarm varies from person to person.
For example, an invitation to a party might cause joy in one person and paralyzing fear in another. A vacation on a cruiseboat can be a sought after prize for one person and an anticipated nightmare for someone else.
Anxiety protects us from danger and in that sense can be life saving. Anxiety can sharpen our thoughts and make us cope more effectively in a threatening situation. But anxiety can also be terrifying and incapacitation. This latter type of anxiety, one that is experienced as overwhelming and paralyzing interferes with daily life and is far more of a problem than a life saving solution. We call this experience an anxiety disorder and psychologists are skilled in helping people manage this disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans in a given year. Anxiety disorders can get worse if they are not treated.
For information and tips on anxiety disorders, see my facebook page during the month of January.
Note that the symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be easily confused with other serious medical disorders. If you are unsure as to what you are experiencing, go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.