Anxiety and fear are normal and natural responses of the body when we feel threatened or we feel as if something is going bad. This feeling of uncertainty does not last long though. But in some cases, the feelings last longer and the person cannot get rid of it for along time.
Definition of anxiety and fear
Fear has a strong effect on the body and mind. It is undoubtedly a very powerful emotion as it can tell the person what to respond to certain situations like emergencies or when being attacked. Fear kicks in even if the person relatively non-dangerous things like public speaking, exams, dates, parties and even when seeking a new job. Fear is a natural reaction to threat.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a type of fear where a person thinks that he is being threatened or there is something bound to go wrong.
Both emotions last for only short periods for time but they can last longer and become stuck with the person for a very long time. If this should happen, the emotions are capable of affecting the following aspects of your life:
- going to school or work.
- leaving the house
- enjoying life
This holds the person back in doing what he wants or needs to do. It can also affect the person’s mental health. Mental health problems are affected by fear and this further influenced by panic attacks, phobias, anxiety disorders like the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because others become too overwhelmed by fear, they want to totally avoid specific situations which would make them anxious or frightened.
Commonly asked questions about anxiety and fear
Why do I feel anxious or frightened even when I am not in danger?
Ancient human ancestors had to have the powerful and fast reactions that fear gives them because they were always in constant danger from being attacked by big animals like lions and snakes long before modern man showed up. Even though we now live in the comforts of the modern civilization, our minds and body still operate the same way and have the same reactions as we are faced with modern day problems like paying the bills and in social situations.
The physical emotions of fear are frightening in itself, especially if the person has them and they do not know why they have them in the first place. Instead of being alerted to danger or being prepared to respond to threats, the anxiety or fear will kick in even in minor threatening situations.
Why do I feel fearful all the time?
Fear can easily go away when a person is experiencing something unusual but if it a problem every day, it can be a long-term problem. Many people feel anxious or fearful most of the time even when they are not particularly in danger or even without any specific trigger. But even without knowing the exact reason why you feel these two emotions all the time, learning to accept that certain factors in your everyday life cannot be changed can help in learning new ways of coping with these situations. Even when you know how out of proportion your fear is, the part of the brain which controls your emotions will keep sending signals to the body. The person may want to consider doing physical and mental actions to counteract fear.
What triggers my fears?
There are many ways that makes a person feel afraid. To feel afraid can be helpful at times especially during emergencies where the emotion can keep you safe. If the person fears failure then it can urge the person to do well to avoid failure. But becoming too fearful of failure can also hinder a person to do well at anything. The following are factors that make a person feel fear:
- genetic make-up
- how a person copes and learns new things
- past life experiences
- manner by which the person was brought up
Knowing what triggers your fears can be the start of learning how to manage your fear.
What factors make me anxious?
Anxiety can be interchanged with worry or if fear is constantly there and persists over a long period of time. It is the term used to describe fear about something that will happen in the future than the events that will happen in the present. Health workers use anxiety to describe persistent fear. The person feels the almost the same when he feels anxious and frightened because both emotions are the same in nature.
What do I feel the same when I feel frightened and anxious?
The body and mind work fast when the person feels frightened and anxious. The following things can happen:
- irregular and fast heart beats
- weakened muscles
- fast and erratic breathing
- sweating more
- concentration is hard to maintain
- loose bowel movements
- cannot eat properly
- cannot move or frozen to a spot
- continuous sweating
- tense muscles.
- Mouth is dry
The reactions are integrated in the body when it feels fear so during an emergency, the following processes might take place:
- Increase muscle blood flow
- Increase in blood sugar
- mental ability is limited to focusing on only one object
In the long run, anxiety can also make a person feel any of the following aside the ones mentioned so far:
- persistent fear
- trouble sleeping
- very irritable
- severe headaches
- sexual problems or temporary dysfunction
- work related problems and plans for the future
- low self esteem and confidence
What are panic attacks?
Panic attacks happen when the person feels overwhelmed by the mental and physical emotions of fear. Those who have panic attacks find it difficult to breathe and worry that they might be having a heart problem or attack. They may also fear as if they are losing control over their bodies. There are phone numbers at the end of the article which might help those who want to remedy their panic attacks.
What are phobias?
Phobias are the extreme fear from a particular thing, animal, situation or a place. For those who have phobias, they should avoid being in contact with the specific cause of their fear or anxiety. Even the very thought of coming in close contact with the trigger for phobia will make them panic or feel anxious.
When do I call for help?
Anxiety and fear affects every one of us from all age groups, cultures or genders. Doctors would only call it as a mental health illness when there is excessive anxiety and fear in the person. It is also considered a mental health illness if the duration of the emotions is persistent and longer lasting. If the person should overly fearful or anxious for a couple of days or weeks or even months, he should consult a doctor immediately before letting the emotions take over your life. This also holds true for phobias or panic attacks.
Dealing with anxiety and fear
It is hard to stop the cycle of anxiety and fear but there a lot of ways to do it. The person can learn how to be less fearful and to cope up with the extreme fear that will ruin the patient’s life.
Avoid the situations that will scare you and the excessive feeling of fear and anxiety might just stop. But being able to face your fear presents the opportunity of learning new ways to cope up with the situation. The person who runs away from fear might not be able to work out how to manage his fear and reduce his anxiety. Anxiety problems become worse if the person cannot escape this cycle.
Learn more about your personal anxiety and fear. Set small and short term goals which you can do to face your fears. Keeping a record of what happens and how it happened can also help. The person can do more things now before he is uninhibited from doing things which he thought will make him fearful or anxious.
There are a number of ways to relax. Relaxation helps in controlling the physical and mental feelings of anxiety and fear. Dropping your tense shoulders and breathing deeply can get you to relax quickly. Imagining yourself in a relaxing place can also help.
Regular and increased amount of exercise can trigger the improvement of mood because the brain releases chemicals to help alter a person’s mood. Concentrating on doing exercise takes off your mind from anxiety and fear.
Eating a lot of veggies and fruits and avoiding excess sugar can result in the reduction of blood sugar levels which contribute in anxious emotions. Do not drink tea and coffee in excess because it increases anxiety levels.
Drinking alcohol in moderation
Whenever someone feels nervous the habit of drinking alcohol cannot be far behind. People borrow strength from alcohol but once the effects of alcohol wears off, the person will feel more anxious and frightened than before he started drinking.
Taking in herbal products or having a massage can also help ease fear and anxiety.
Faith or spirituality
Feeling like there is something bigger than fear and anxiety can help too. It can be able to provide a means with how to cope up with stress and religion and church can be a source of valuable support.
How do get help for anxiety and fear
Consult your doctor regarding excess anxiety and fear. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step in taking control of your life instead of being overcome by emotions.
Talk about your problems and your difficulty in coping with your emotions. The patient can take someone along with him during a session if it will make him more comfortable to talk freely.
Talk therapy uses cognitive behaviour principles just like counselling too. This is effective for people who have anxiety problems. Therapies can also be computerized where the patient is to do exercises on a computer. Consult your doctor if you want to find out more about it.
People who have the same problems usually gather together to support each other through sharing their experiences. They can manage their problems better in this manner. The facilitators in these kinds of therapy are people who once had the same problems as their peers. They give out tips and share opinions on how to get past their problems. Ask your doctor, local citizen’s advice bureau or your local library for support groups that are nearest to you.
Taking in prescribed medications provides short-term relief from the problem but this does not cure the root of the problem. Taking in prescribed medicines will work better if taken in combination with support groups or therapies.