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What causes anxiety, how does it affect our physical health & 4 effective ways of dealing with it.

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear which, when persistent and impacting on daily life may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Some times we do recognise the reasons for making us feel that way. Some other times, as with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of anxiety disorders isn't fully understood. Studies show that anxiety often develops for no apparent reason. However, there are some common external factors that can cause the condition: Inherited traits- to be précised your genetic makeup. Recent studies show that the risk of anxiety tends to run in families, but the role of genetic influence versus the influence of the family environment remains unclear. Personality traits – studies suggest that people with certain personality traits are more likely to develop anxiety disorder. This applies in particular to children who strive for perfection, who are easily agitated and those who want to control everything. Major Stress or Trauma – here events such as abuse, the death of a loved one ore victimization can trigger the condition. Childhood traumas in particular may make one more prone to anxiety in later life. Substance abuse – there is a strong link between anxiety and excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Anxiety sufferers may begin using medications to manage symptoms of anxiety, while those who are substance abusers are very likely to develop anxiety disorder as a result of their addiction. It is often a combination of factors that contributes to a person suffering from anxiety. The most important thing is to recognize the signs of the condition and seek professional help. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can recover.

How anxiety affects physical health

While it is natural for the pressure of the day to day live to leave us stressed or worried at times, some people experience a continuous feeling of anxiety, even in the absence of the need to fight or flee. They live in a constant and unjustified fear or distress that can impact greatly on their daily lives. Such excessive and on-going worrying can in fact affect your body and lead to a physical illness. Research suggests that anxiety sufferers are at greater risk of developing certain medical conditions. Although there is an on-going dispute within the field of therapy, focused on ‘which comes first’, i.e whether a prolonged physical illness can lead to anxiety, or whether medical conditions can be developed as a result of excessive worrying. Regardless of a chosen approach, one thing is certain; anxiety is strongly linked to some chronic medical conditions, like:

- Thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism) This medical condition may present itself as an anxiety syndrome, as it can significantly affect your mood. Research show that the more severe the thyroid disease, the more erratic your mood can be. Those suffering from hyperthyroidism may experience unexplained nervousness, restlessness or irrabillity. - Heart disease Research show that people who suffer from chronic heart disease have increased chances of anxiety disorders. Similarly, those with heart arrhythmias have an increased prevalence of anxiety disorders.

- Gastrointestinal conditions Digestive problems are extremely common among those who suffer from anxiety. The changes that impact on our digestion do not start in our stomach, but they start in our brains. A number of studies highlights that ‘gut-brain connection’. Our gastrointestinal tract is very receptive to our emotions. Strong feelings like anger, sadness or anxiety have a power of triggering reactions in the gut. - Chronic respiratory disorders Respiratory problems can be linked to anxiety. Very often there is nothing medically wrong with the patient’s lungs or heart, but they experience a strong sensation that makes them think that they suffer from respiratory problems. Anxiety can have a direct impact on our breathing patterns. It can activate the fight or flight system which pumps adrenaline into the blood stream. Consequently, our breathing becomes faster. Anxiety can also lead to hyperventilation, also known as ‘over-breathing’. Therapy is an effective way of overcoming anxiety disorders. Unlike medications, it treats more than just the symptoms of the problem. It can help you to uncover the underlying causes of your stress and fears, teach you how to relax, change your outlook on life in general and develop practical, coping techniques that will allow you to handle your emotions in a better way.

4 Effective ways for reducing anxiety

Living with anxiety is never easy. It can be truly overwhelming for sufferers and millions of people struggle with anxiety on daily basis. This is why it is very helpful to learn ways of finding some relief. While anxiety cannot be cured over night, there are some useful techniques that can be integrated into your daily life to calm yourself down in times of crisis. Here are four anxiety reduction tips that you may find helpful: _________________ 1.Control your breathing __________________ Think about your breathing every time you get anxious. Shallow breath contributes to panic. More controlled, deep breathing on the other hand, is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. Slow down your breathing and take a deep, but gentle breath through your nose, trying to hold your breath for about three to four seconds. Breath out slowly through pursed lips as if you were whistling. ________ 2. Accept and embrace the feeling of anxiety ______ Simply accepting that you are feeling anxious is critical to controlling your feelings. Trying to eliminate the feeling of anxiety on the other hand, often worsen its symptoms. _________ 3. Perform some simple aerobic routine __________ When you feeling anxious exercising can make a big difference. This is because it offers a number of advantages for controlling anxiety symptoms i.e: - release endorphins which improve overall mood - burn away stress hormones - force healthier breathing - offer a healthy ‘distraction’ _____________________ 4. Talk to a friend ______________________ Make contact with someone that you can trust, even if it is only over the phone. Talking through and explaining your feelings to someone who knows you well can bring a lot of relief and will have a calming effect. There are no instant magic cures when it comes to overcoming anxiety however, learning some calming strategies, and most importantly, implementing them into your daily life can greatly improve your long-term outlook.


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