Anxiety is usually defined as feelings of worry, unease and fear. It includes both the physical and emotional sensations experienced when an individual is nervous or worried about anything. Although it is usually an unpleasant experience, anxiety is often related to the fight or flight reaction which is our normal biological response to feeling threatened.
We all understand what it is like to feel nervous repeatedly. It is common to feel nervous, tense and maybe fearful thinking of a stressful decision or event we are facing – particularly if it places a huge impact on our life. For instance:
- Sitting in an examination
- going to hospital
- giving an interview
- starting new jobs
- having a baby
- shifting your current residence
- being diagnosed with a disease
- Planning to get married and divorced
In such situations it is obvious to have fears about how you will achieve, or what will be consequences. For a very short time you might even find it difficult to eat, rest and concentrate. Then generally, after a short time or when that situation has passed, feelings of worry stop.
Fight or Flight
Like animals, human beings have developed ways to help protect themselves from dangerous and life-threatening situations. Whenever we feel a threat our body releases some hormones, like cortisol and adrenalin that help us to physically prepare to either fight that threat or flee from it. Such hormones can;
- Make us feel more alert to help us act much faster
- Make our heart beat faster to flow blood quickly to the organs where it is required most
Then as soon as we the danger has passed by, our body release few other hormones that help our muscles relax that may cause us to shake.
Fight or flight response is something that automatically happens in our bodies, and therefore we don’t have any control over this. In today’s modern society we do not usually face such situations where we are required to physically fight or run away from such danger, however our biological reactions to feeling threatened is yet the same.
When does Panic and Anxiety become a Mental Problem?
As anxiety is a normal human behavior, it is sometimes difficult to understand when it is becoming an issue for you. However if feelings of anxiety are very strong, or long lasting, it can be devastating. For instance, we might get worried about things that may be a part of life, or that are not regular or we frequently experience unpleasant about psychological and physiological effects of anxiety that leads to panic attacks or anxiety disorders.