Anxiety is a common mental condition affecting one in every five adults in the U.S. Most people think that anxiety is simply a feeling of restlessness, nervousness, and unease. However, people struggling with serious anxiety disorder experience persistent intrusive thoughts and several physical symptoms that affect their normal functioning. Knowing some facts about anxiety will allow you to better understand this condition so you can avoid it or keep it under control.
1. Anxiety increases when we do jobs for which we are not qualified
Work is one of the main sources of stress for most people, but it does not impact everyone equally. A study carried out at the University of Bergen in which more than 17,000 workers were analyzed revealed that those who perform more basic jobs show higher levels of anxiety, as well as those who do not have the necessary skills.
It is also known that stress and tension is greater in professions that are in direct contact with people, such as those who work in front of the public. Obviously, professionals who deal with human suffering every day, such as doctors and nurses, can also experience high levels of anxiety. However, enrolling in Psych NP programs online or another type of training that guarantees the appropriate level of knowledge and skills can act as a protective factor against anxiety, increasing the feeling of self-efficacy.
2. Anxiety Can Begin in Childhood
Anxiety isn’t exclusively an adult problem. Like ADHD and other mental disorders, anxiety also affects children. According to the CDC, 7% of children aged below 18 also struggle with anxious thoughts that affect their quality of life. While it is normal for kids to worry sometimes, you should be concerned if their fears and concerns become recurrent and make it hard for them to take part in some daily activities.
Unfortunately, unlike adults, anxiety affects the kid’s thoughts and feelings more than behavior. This makes it hard to identify kids struggling with anxiety. Common external signs of anxiety in children include frequent headaches and stomachaches, trouble sleeping, throwing tantrums, and clinging to their parents.
If not treated, childhood anxiety can recur later in adulthood. Fortunately, childhood anxiety is treatable. Anxious kids respond to medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can helps affected kids learn how to control their worries and develop more adaptive stress coping strategies.
3. Anxiety is Physically Painful
Most people associate anxiety with mental and emotional symptoms, such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, and frustration. However, this disorder also causes physical symptoms, which result from the body’s fight/flight response.
Once the brain senses a threat, it produces neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and cortisol that trigger a cascade of reactions on a physical level. For this reason, anxiety also manifests itself through:
- An increase in heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle aches, tension and discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling sensations
- Dizziness and nausea
Recognizing these symptoms and seeking interventions can help alleviate and prevent anxiety.
4. Anxiety Can Confuse Your Sense of Smell
You’ll certainly find it surprising that the effects of anxiety go beyond fears and phobias. Beyond your moods, anxiety also affects your body’s senses. While the sense of smell does not have a close relationship with mental health, anxiety has a complicated way of messing with the sense of smell. Anxiety and smell are related in the following ways:
- Smell sensitivity can cause anxiety: Sensitivity to smell is among the causes of anxiety, especially if a particular scent makes you self-conscious. For instance, if your body or clothes smell often, you can develop a negative self-image resulting from these smells.
- Anxiety can cause smell sensitivity: Anxiety can also make someone sensitive to smells. Being anxious puts you in touch with your senses. People with anxiety are often receptive to scents differently from other people.
- Anxiety can create smells: Interestingly, most people who are concerned about their smell actually don’t smell. It’s only that they’ve become self-conscious of their smell and assume they smell poorly every time. As such, they assume other people close to them can feel their smell, resulting in developing anxiety.
5. Anxiety affects memory
Anxiety is a state of hyperstimulation in which the brain looks everywhere for potential threats, so it is understandable that it ends up ignoring what it does not consider important. Basically, it is like being immersed in a permanent battle to stay focused on the present moment as anxiety pushes us again and again towards the future to foresee possible dangers.
This state of constant tension and hypervigilance causes us to pay too much attention to irrelevant stimuli, so that sometimes it can be difficult for us to concentrate on what is truly important. That ends up creating memory lapses and confusion. In fact, it’s not unusual for anxious people to often seem distracted, not listening, or even not caring about what’s going on.
On the other hand, intrusive and recurring thoughts, as well as attentional biases, also end up affecting our cognitive performance, particularly memory since their brain structures are very sensitive to the increase in cortisol that accompanies anxiety symptoms.
However, it is worth clarifying that the appropriate amount of cortisol can improve our memory (for negative events). On the other hand, elevated cortisol levels over time due to an anxiety disorder end up hindering memory. Therefore, the more often we experience anxiety, the more cortisol there will be circulating through our body and the more our memory capacity will deteriorate.
Like other symptoms of anxiety, affected persons should adopt a comprehensive strategy to cope better.
There are a lot of interesting facts and myths about anxiety most people don’t know. This explains why most people struggling with anxiety disorders don’t get diagnosed. You should seek professional support if you believe you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
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