By Vonnie Kennedy
A women suffering from anxiety believes she's handling stress just fine, may not even recognize when or why she's feeling anxious, and chalk it up to "having a bad day." But, too many bad days can be detrimental to your health. In fact, it might even kill you.
The American Psychology Association defines anxiety this way: "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat."
Uncontrolled anxiety can severely affect the fight or flight response, your body's natural alarm system.
According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, "It starts when your hypothalamus (a tiny region at the base of your brain) sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol."
The fight or flight response is necessary and normal when something frightens or startles you. But, if you are always on edge or have too much stress in your life, your alarm system may get stuck in the "on" position. And just like a faulty alarm system in your house or car, you need to have it repaired.
Anxiety is considered a mental health issue. While some people don't understand it or refuse to admit they are anxious, prolonged stress symptoms may generate other disorders such as depression, insomnia, digestive problems, obesity, memory loss, and even unexplained skin conditions such as eczema.
That's not all. More serious life-threatening conditions may occur including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and even rare cancerous tumors, and may shorten your life.
How do you control your anxiety?
First, recognize and acknowledge it. Anxiety or panic attacks are common in people suffer from chronic stress.
If you frequently experience any or some of the stress indicators below, it's time to deal with your anxiety:
• Sense of impending doom or danger
• Fear of loss of control or death
• Rapid heart rate
• Shortness of breath
• Hot flashes
• Abdominal cramping
• Chest pain
• Tightness in your throat
• Trouble swallowing
So, how can you relieve these symptoms? First, try some stress management strategies such as the following:
• Eat a healthy diet
• Exercise regularly
• Maintain a regular sleep schedule
• Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation
• Cultivate healthy, positive friendships
• Have a sense of humor
If you are already following this type of regimen and/or these strategies haven't worked, seek professional counseling and/or the appropriate physician who can prescribe anxiety or anti-depressant medication.
Don't ignore the importance of dealing with continuing, chronic anxiety and stress issues. Start taking care of yourself today.
Sources and further reading:
Anxiety. American Psychological Association. Web. 9, August, 2012
Panic Attacks and Pain Disorder Symptoms. Mayo Clinic. Web. 9, August, 2012
Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. Web. 9, August, 2012
Reviewed August 9, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
By Vonnie Kennedy