Understanding anxiety

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Anxiety is undoubtedly an unpleasant feeling, but it is something that everyone experiences. Of course, some people experience anxiety more regularly than others, but it is a completely natural experience that is part and parcel of daily life. Due to the unpleasant nature of anxiety, people often worry that experiencing it is harmful. For example they may fear that regularly worrying will make them go mad or that the physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g. heart racing) are signs of a serious health problem. Such fears naturally make people even more anxious which creates a vicious cycle of anxiety.

However, when exploring anxiety more closely, we can see that it is a very healthy response which actually helps to protect us. By learning more about anxiety and why we experience it in the first place, we can see that it is not harmful. This can help us to be less fearful of the symptoms which in turn have a positive effect on our overall anxiety levels. If however you are concerned that some of your symptoms are not caused by anxiety, contact your GP if necessary.

The symptoms we experience when anxious are often referred to as the 'fight or flight' response. This comes from the idea that people primarily experience anxiety to help them either fight or run away from danger. For example, if you saw a burglar, two options open to you would be to either - fight them off (fight) or try to run away (flight). Our fight or flight response would kick in to help us at this point. For example:

  • Our hearts would begin beating more quickly (supplying blood to our muscles).
  • We would sweat (to cool us down).
  • Our muscles would become tense (ready for action).
  • We would take deeper breaths (to supply oxygen to our muscles).

In essence, all of these responses would aid our escape or improve our ability to stay and fight the intruder. When considered in this way, we can see how the symptoms of anxiety are helpful to us. Indeed, all of the physical symptoms we experience when anxious play a helpful role in protecting us in such circumstances.

This fight or flight response was likely even more vital to human survival back in the days of early man, when people had to hunt for their food and were under a greater threat from predators. Nowadays we do not face the same threats, but unfortunately, our bodies and minds have not caught up with these changes. As a result, we now experience anxiety in situations where it is not necessarily as helpful because we cannot fight or run away from them (e.g. work or financial pressures). However, the one thing that has stayed true is the fact that these symptoms are not dangerous; it is in many ways the right response but at the wrong time. Remembering this can help you to be less fearful of the symptoms of anxiety which will allow them to pass sooner.


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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)

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