A Guide to Understanding Anxiety and Its Effects

Most people experience anxiety on a regular basis. It’s normal to feel nervous before an important exam or interview – or when confronting one’s own mortality.

But when anxiety becomes persistent or incapacitating, professional help should be sought. Anxiety disorders are treatable through lifestyle modifications, psychotherapy and medication.


Fear is an automatic bodily response to perceived threats in our environment that causes biochemical reactions like sweating, increased heart rate and breathing rate, dilated pupils (commonly known as the fight or flight response). As part of its natural defense mechanism, our bodies use physical responses as a defense mechanism against danger; however, when left unregulated they can become debilitating and negatively affect mental health. Fear can prevent us from thinking clearly and making sound decisions, leading to anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Fear also plays an essential role in depression as well as physical ailments like insomnia, heart disease, stomach issues and headaches.

Psychological theories of fear suggest it is an emotionally fundamental emotion shared among humans and other animals, including ourselves. Most theories tend to view fear as an adaptive, phasic state triggered by threats to oneself or others and activating key biological pathways such as activating the amygdala [2, 3]. They further propose it can be controlled voluntarily via volitional regulation using neural circuits such as those located within the central nucleus of amygdala which mediates fear, and bed nucleus of striaterminalis which mediates anxiety [4, 5].

Fear can be a normal part of everyday life; however, persistent fears can take over and prevent you from doing the things you enjoy or even leaving the house. Frequent feelings of anxiety have serious repercussions for both mental and physical wellbeing; an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis and respiratory conditions like asthma is just one consequence.

If someone you know is experiencing fear and anxiety, try supporting their efforts to overcome it. Provide them with healthy sources of stress relief such as yoga or walking; suggest regular physical activity; even gentle stretches like stretching, walking and sitting exercises can be just as effective; learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualisation or meditation may also prove helpful.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden feelings of fear and physical reactions in response to mundane, nonthreatening situations that often feel innocuous. You may have the sensation of having a heart attack and may also feel as though you’re losing control or going crazy; panic attacks can happen anywhere – driving, shopping mall or sleeping; symptoms are typically intense and last several minutes; unlike anxiety however, panic attacks don’t usually have one clear source; sometimes reactions such as flying can trigger them; sometimes they just happen at random!

Learn to cope with anxiety and avoid panic attacks by understanding their source. This includes learning more about the fight-or-flight response, stress’ effect on your brain and how to identify panic triggers for yourself. In order to reduce the chance of future attacks, avoid things that might bring on an attack such as smoking, caffeine or diet pills but remember this may backfire over time if done in isolation – instead try finding what works for you rather than trying to eliminate every single potential source.

Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing to soothe your body. Also important are maintaining regular interactions with friends and family as well as engaging in regular physical exercise – both of these factors may lower blood pressure levels while helping lower the risk of anxiety disorders.

Other contributing factors may include experiencing a traumatic event, living with a chronic health condition and using substances, such as alcohol or illegal drugs, to mask or manage anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, people who have a family history of depression or bipolar disorder are at increased risk for anxiety disorders as well.

Psychotherapy is one of the best ways to address anxiety. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can be particularly useful, helping change negative, anxiety-provoking thoughts into more realistic ones. Another approach may involve exposure therapy; which entails repeatedly confronting situations or body sensations you fear until they prove harmless or dangerous.


Most people experience feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives, for instance before sitting an exam, going into hospital, having a job interview or moving house. In situations like this, people must consult a San Diego anxiety specialist or other credible institutions that might help with this problem. Short-term anxiety is part of our bodies’ natural response to stress; when this level of worry becomes overwhelming and prevents you from enjoying life fully it may indicate treatment needs.

Psychotherapy (also referred to as “talk therapy”) and medication are the two main approaches used to treat anxiety disorders. Talk therapy helps individuals understand their anxiety better while learning new ways of thinking, reacting, and behaving to manage symptoms more effectively – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) being one type. Meanwhile, medications can help ease physical symptoms related to anxiety such as antianxiety drugs, sedatives, and beta-blockers (usually prescribed for heart conditions).

If your doctor suspects an anxiety disorder, he or she will consider the severity and impact of your symptoms as well as how long they’ve existed and any changes over time when making their diagnosis. Furthermore, blood work or physical examination may also be recommended in order to rule out potential underlying conditions that could cause these disorders.

Anxiety can result in significant physical effects, including increased breathing and heart rates as well as sleep disruption and stomach distress, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

As anxiety can prevent us from living fulfilling lives, seeking treatment is imperative if you wish to lead one. Don’t allow your worries to turn into long-term health issues that interfere with relationships, work and daily activities – untreated anxiety can leave us mentally exhausted while also impacting self-esteem, confidence and relationships – this may also result in substance abuse among young people.


All people experience anxiety from time to time; when these feelings of nervousness or fear become constant and overwhelming they could indicate an anxiety disorder. Some symptoms of an anxiety disorder include persistent worrying that is out of proportion with the situation, feeling on edge or fatigued easily, muscle tension and sleep problems; individuals living with this disorder might also become tense or irritable, while avoiding certain situations that trigger panic attacks.

Symptoms can have an enormous impact on every aspect of life and should never be ignored; they could interfere with work, school or social relationships; they could even force you to take time off work due to fatigue and have negative repercussions for both physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore it is imperative that if these symptoms exist you seek professional treatment immediately.

Anxiety can trigger physical responses in its wake, from heart palpitations to trembling or butterflies in your stomach. This occurs because your brain sends neurotransmitter messages throughout your body to prepare it for fight or flight responses. Although anxiety’s physical symptoms may be uncomfortable at times, they will only last temporarily.

Over time, prolonged anxiety can severely compromise your immune system and contribute to digestive issues like nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Chronic stress may even worsen irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease and put you at greater risk of ulcers.

Anxiety is caused by activating your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). When activated, this sends a fight or flight response into motion and increases cortisol and adrenaline levels in preparation of potential danger. While this is natural process designed to protect us against threats, when this response happens often it becomes detrimental.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy and relaxation techniques may all help manage anxiety disorders. Your doctor can offer advice about which one would work best for you by discussing the severity of symptoms affecting daily life, before making a diagnosis based on criteria found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 published by the American Psychiatric Association.