Definition and Management of Anxiety

Spread the love

June 1st, 2018

By Francesca Coltrera, Editor of the Harvard Health Blog

You’ve probably occasionally experienced mental and physical distress signals such as a racing heartbeat, panic attacks, difficulty breathing, insomnia, feelings of dread, or even worry cycles, despite the wide spectrum of symptoms linked to anxiety. That is normal.

Anxiety by itself is not a problem. By stabilizing the biological defense mechanism, it provides oxygen to your muscles as your body prepares to fight or flee by raising your heart rate and respiration in response to danger. A good amount of anxiety can prevent you from going on solitary walks in the dark, motivate you to study hard for an exam, or force you to get at work on time.

In moderation, worry can even be helpful, according to Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Clay Center for Healthy Young Minds, who also states that “having anxiety is normal.” The problem lies in the fact that sometimes the systems behind our anxiety reactions become dysregulated, leading us to either overreact or respond incorrectly to situations.”

What are anxiety disorders?

The severity of symptoms and an individual’s ability to cope set anxiety disorders apart from common anxieties or stressful events. National surveys show that one in three youths (13–18 years old) and nearly one in five adults (18–64 years old) reported having an anxiety disorder in the previous year.

If you have severe anxiety, let your doctor know.

Protect yourself from the damage that chronic inflammation brings about.

Studies have shown that chronic, low-grade inflammation can become a silent killer that aggravates other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Harvard Medical School experts can teach you simple ways to manage inflammation and keep your health.

VIEW MORE INFORMATION Protect yourself from the damage that chronic inflammation brings about.

What kind of anxiety disorder do you have?

As with any medical illness, an accurate diagnosis is essential. A few common anxiety disorders include:

Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as a pattern of excessive worry about different issues on most days for at least six months, usually accompanied by physical symptoms like muscle tension, a pounding heart, or dizziness. Social anxiety disorder is defined as experiencing extreme nervousness in social situations or when one must perform in front of people, like public speaking.


 These lead to extreme anxiety 

a specific creature, insect, thing, or situation.

Panic disorder: 

“It’s the feeling you’d have if you just missed being hit by a Mack truck—but for people with panic disorder there is no Mack truck,” says Dr. Beresin. Panic attacks are sudden, strong bursts of heart-pounding anxiety, dyspnea, and terror.

The cost of anxiety

Anxiety is unhealthy for one.

Anxiety, for example, increases blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, which over time exacerbates heart problems, stroke, renal illness, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, a 2017 study published in the Lancet that used brain scans to monitor activity in the amygdala—an area responsible for encoding memories of frightful experiences and mounting split-second reactions to danger—found that greater activity in the amygdala was associated with higher risk for heart disease and stroke, with the researchers hypothesizing that this was likely caused by the immune system producing more white blood cells to fight perceived threats. This could lead to inflammation and plaque formation in individuals experiencing emotional stress, which in turn increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, the quality of life declines as a result of people avoiding anxiety-provoking situations because of intrusive thoughts, excessive self-consciousness, fear of rejection, and other symptoms of anxiety disorders. People also become more reclusive, turn down opportunities, and give up on potential joys in life, which has a detrimental impact on relationships, work, education, and extracurricular activities.

There are effective treatments for anxiety.

Customized therapy is provided based on the diagnosis. Effective suggestions include:

Giving up coffee, exercising frequently, and abstaining from narcotics and other substances that could aggravate anxiety symptoms are examples of lifestyle changes.

Mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, and techniques to create calm and relieve stress are examples of mind-body techniques.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure treatment, helps patients tolerate and reduce anxiety by carefully exposing them to frightening events or objects under a therapist’s supervision. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) encourages people to question and reframe inaccurate or unhelpful fearful thinking.

Benzodiazepines are among the drugs used to treat anxiety episodes on an as-needed basis. Low dosages of some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help lower anxiety when used on a regular basis.

Combining various tactics is usually the best course of action. Medication for anxiety relief and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy to help retrain the brain and establish coping skills can both significantly lower anxiety.

Regarding the Author

Francesca Coltrera, Editor of the Harvard Health Blog

View Entire Bio. Co-author of Living Through Breast Cancer and The Breast, Francesca Coltrera is an award-winning medical journalist and senior content writer for Harvard Health Publishing. She also serves as editor of the Harvard Health Blog.

Notice of Disclaimer

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides our library of previous publications. Please note the date of each article’s last review or update.

Nothing on this website, regardless of when it was posted, should ever be considered as a substitute for expert medical advice from your doctor or another licensed healthcare provider.

(Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)
Freya Parker

Freya Parker

I am a seasoned SEO and link-building specialist with a dedicated team of experts poised to deliver exceptional results for you. Our comprehensive range of services includes top-tier link building, impactful guest posting, and premium content creation. Furthermore, we excel in optimizing your current link profile, augmenting it with high-quality backlinks to elevate your website's performance to the fullest. Digital Marketing Services

Tinggalkan Balasan

Alamat email Anda tidak akan dipublikasikan. Ruas yang wajib ditandai *