Symptoms of Anxiety
By Amanda Beck,M.A., Edmond Family Counseling
Anxiety can appear in many forms. This may look like tightness in the chest, increased heart rate, sweaty hands, shaking, upset stomach, and repetitive intrusive thoughts among others. For some, these symptoms could come at the thought of meeting new people. For others, it could be when you’re in a new place or learning a new skill. Regardless of the trigger, it’s important to understand anxiety and how it impacts you in order to learn how to manage it.
Anxiety is evolutionarily important. Without anxiety we would not respond to potentially harmful events in a way that would save our lives, therefore making it essential to the progression of our species. For instance, imagine you are walking through the woods and you come across a mama bear with her two cubs. For the majority of people there are one of three possible responses to this situation: fight, flight, or freeze. Fight in this example would be facing that bear head on by punching, kicking, or throwing things at the bear in an effort to protect yourself and increase your odds of survival. Flight in this example would be running from the bear as fast as you can in hopes that you could out run the bear or seek help from others as fast as possible. Freeze may look like laying down on the ground and pretending you are dead. As a counselor I can offer you no advice as to which would be the best option to ensure your survival in this bear scenario, but each option may play a role when it comes to anxiety. The symptoms many people feel when experiencing anxiety also stem from an evolutionary place as well. The increased heart rate may stem from your body preparing itself to run like the wind. Nausea or upset stomach may stem from the slowing of digestion for the same purpose; to prepare your body for running. Regardless of the symptom this is your body’s way of saying, “Hey, I think there’s danger. We’d better get out of here!” For those who suffer from chronic anxiety, this little example may be all too familiar. Anxiety sufferers can often misattribute their bodily symptoms to read danger when there isn’t any. After all, It’s not too often that we are fighting bears in the woods. So why does the body respond that way to a new job? A date? Trying a new task? Performing in front of others?
At this point in time, society is very socially oriented. Livelihood depends on how well a person can succeed at their job. Finding a partner can help create a support system not only for living but for furthering the population. People can also be judged for how well they can accomplish a task (i.e.-play piano, wood working, machinery, building a business). All of the above can lead to an increase in anxiety across the population. More and more individuals are seeking counseling when the anxiety becomes too difficult to manage alone. With a better understanding of where anxiety comes from and how it can affect individuals, new treatments can develop to aid those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Edmond Family Counseling is a non-profit organization. We may be reached at 405-341-3554 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professional counselors.
(Amanda Beck, M.A., is a Staff Therapist and LPC Candidate at Edmond Family Counseling).