Anxiety in itself is not a concern just a natural reaction to circumstances. Sadly for some people heightened anxieties can rule their lives. This can lead to a range of personal problems that can limit and debilitate the enjoyment of life. This is the first of a series giving a brief introduction to anxiety disorders with the assurance that they can be reduced and even cured.

We all feel anxious at some time or other. It could be going to a new place; meeting people who we have not met before or even going on a long journey. Exams, weddings, prize giving, places, some creatures, things and public presentations all have the potential to create anxious feelings and that is only normal.

Being anxious is often described as having butterflies in the stomach. It is a general feeling of unease and sometimes can be quite intense. Usually it passes when the circumstances change.

But for some people the anxiety, the anxious feelings remain. Have you ever experienced someone who is always on edge? Someone who seems intensely aware of the possible dangers of any situation. Imagine what that must feel like.

We all experience fears at some kind. The difference between fears and anxieties is that fears usually have a specific external focus. Anxieties tend to have a more generalised and internal focus. They can of course be very specific in the case of phobias.

From the natural ability we have to protect ourselves by recognising dangers can come some unpleasant conditions. Fear is a natural reaction to some situations, creatures or events. We are set up to protect ourselves and our kin. One of our natural reactions is called the “flight or fight” reaction. In all fear producing situations our primitive ancestors had two choices; run or stand and fight.

In these pressured situations the adrenalin levels in the body rise quickly and instinctively to give the body much needed high levels of energy. Bodily and mental functions which are not required at that time are reduced, these include the digestive system and some intellectual responses. Stress can also raise the adrenalin levels in our bodies this again can lead to symptoms similar to those of anxiety and eventually to some form of anxiety disorder.

Some anxiety disorders are like a minor arousal of the flight fight reaction that is running in the background continually. Though in some cases of panic attack and phobias they can be sudden and overwhelming.

Anxiety disorders include the following

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – general worries experienced daily over stressful problems for an extended period of time.

Specific Phobias (Simple Phobias) – These can be related to flying, heights, creatures or objects.

Social Phobias – fears related to public or small group situations. Two of the most common are blushing and the fear of public speaking. Basically a fear of what other people think of you in a social situation.

Agoraphobia – the fear of open spaces. Agoraphobia can develop as a result of panic attacks. The person feels very uneasy when visiting specific or general places outside a certain comfort zone. Some people with this concern will only leave home with a supportive companion. In extreme cases the person will not even leave home.

Panic Attacks – attacks often arise without warning. Sometimes the person will experience one attack and then the anxiety becomes about having another and making a fool of themselves, this can lead to agoraphobia. Other sufferers will have several attacks at the same or different levels of intensity. The sufferer experiences a whole raft of overwhelming symptoms that include shortness of breath and a sense of detachment

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – recurring thoughts intrude into everyday life and are difficult to quieten. The thoughts in many cases lead to compulsive actions such as cleaning, washing, counting and checking.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – this usually follows a significant threat to life. This could be a motor accident, some form of disaster, violent actions or any other severe trauma. The effects can be prolonged. A short term effect can also be possible, this tends to last for a few days or weeks for a maximum of a month.

Some of these anxieties can exist simultaneously.

The good news is that with help and persistence most people will get significant release from these problems by following a programme with either a therapist or a self help programme. Medication from a doctor can also help in some cases.

This is the first in a series of articles about Anxiety. Later articles will cover this content in more detail.

Copyright Ian Bracegirdle 2007

Author's Bio: 

Ian Bracegirdle is a teacher, course leader and therapist. He uses methods drawn from Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis and other areas to help people lead more fulfilled lives. He live in East Morton in West Yorkshire in the UK. He currently works from home and looks forward to helping you with any personal concerns. The web site to visit is
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