Understanding Anxiety & How It Progresses

According to the World Health Organisation (2014) a state of wellbeing is when an “individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.” 

The Definition of Anxiety 

  • Oxford dictionary: ‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’ 
  • Psychiatry definition: A nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks
  • Viktor E. Frankl refers to “anticipatory anxiety” – the belief that what the person thinks in his or her mind will manifest itself in the physical sense. 

How Does Anxiety Progress? 

Stress often triggers anxiety in our lives. This stress arises in any event, situation or circumstance occurring in an individual’s environment, which is perceived by the individual to be threatening to his/her well-being and healthy functioning. Lazarus 1984.

It’s natural to experience stress and anxiety from time to time; that’s part of being human. But when you have crippling anxiety — the kind that overpowers you to the point where you are unable to regularly attend to day-to-day functions — you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Classifying the Anxiety Levels

Anxiety levels are typically classified by the level of distress and impairment experienced into four categories: 

  1. Mild anxiety;
  2. Moderate anxiety; 
  3. Severe anxiety, and; 
  4. Panic level anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders 

If they are not helped people can then develop anxiety disorders. ‘People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.’ Encyclopedia of Psychology

“Mental Health is a continuum, ranging from a state of optimum health to having an illness or disorder, which affects thoughts, emotions or behaviour. Most of us are somewhere in the middle of this continuum for the majority of the time.” 

Mental health is a continuum, ranging from a state of optimum health, to having an illness or disorder, which affects thoughts, emotions or behaviour. Most of us are somewhere in the middle of this continuum for the majority of the time. We all do experience challenges to our mental health but most are able to respond to these constructively.

The symptoms of anxiety disorders can easily be ignored because they tend to develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much.

Anxiety Diagnosis

Anxiety diagnoses are characterized by three areas: physical, psychological, behavioral.

Some of specific signs include:

  • Increased heart rate; 
  • Sweating; 
  • Feeling apprehensive and tense; 
  • Increased irritability and sensitivity to criticism;
  • Unable to finish work projects; 
  • Difficulty concentrating; 
  • Not being able to sleep; 
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs

It is significant that 55% of the World Health Organization’s focus is mental health because of the international increase in stress anxiety levels. They claim that anxiety and depression will be the number one cause of disability in the developed and developing world by 2030. 

According to Beyond the Blue 2014, ‘Mental illness is the third-highest burden in Australia with cancer and vascular disease being the first and second. On average 1 out of 6 people (1 out of 5 women, and 1 out of 8 men) will encounter depression at some stage in their lives. Many will live with more than one mental illness such as anxiety and depression that commonly occur together.” 

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