This is the 11th in a series of blogs, using answers to pass Mental Health qualifications.  This short blog is about how Anxiety effects people. Awareness, with the topic expanded upon in future blogs.

Situations where individuals may experience anxiety:

People can experience anxiety when there is a fear of the unknown, when they fear the outcome of their actions or when there is potentially undue pressure on them to succeed and achieve.
Anxiety can be caused by exams and tests for instance, perhaps the desire to please others, peer pressure, or the positive outcome is reliant on their ability to work, have further education and overall the desire to achieve and succeed themselves.
People can suffer anxiety when they are in a situation that is new to them, as some would refer to as ‘out of their comfort zone’. Meeting new people in a work situation, new relationships or attending social events where they don’t know many people. The worse-case scenario could be social anxiety when meeting new people becomes incredibly difficult, to the point where people could isolate themselves.
Doing something quite exciting and exhilarating could cause anxiety, although this could also be seen as one of the positives and usually short-term, for instance sky-diving, where the mind and body will automatically want to respond to not jumping out of a plane as a survival instinct.
Some people can be anxious about other people’s situations and potential outcomes. I have often not told my mum when I was going to do something quiet dangerous as I know she would worry and get herself all worked up until she heard from me again.
Employment situations can cause anxiety, such as the pressure to have too much work to do, or worrying about the outcome of job interviews or fear of redundancies in company takeovers for instance. Again, these are all fears and worries about the future and of situations where a person may have little, or no, control.

The feelings that an individual may have when experiencing anxiety:

People experience anxiety in different ways.
When I have given presentations for work, I know I have felt very hot and clammy, I’m sure I sweat a lot more and my hands are really shaky to the point where I refuse to hold paper because I am convinced everyone can see it shaking. In some cases, I can feel really weak as though blood sugar levels have dropped due to lack of food, and I feel faint and quite dizzy.
Some good anxiety could also be that I feel I have ‘butterflies’ in my stomach and I may feel like a need to go to the toilet more.
If people are worrying for days before an event, for instance, they may be constantly thinking about all possible (bad) outcomes, especially at rest when the mind is quiet. Assuming this is at night, it can cause poor sleep making the person feel more tired and perhaps quite irritable.

How anxiety can affect an individual:

a) Mental and emotional effects: 

In extreme cases of anxiety, the whole effects can cause someone to completely isolate themselves as they avoid all causes of the anxiety. This can really effect someone’s mood to the point of depression, potentially causing loneliness which can have the knock-on effect of reducing confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
If anxiety is causing sleep problems this can also effect someone’s ability to concentrate and remain focused, potentially effecting their ability to study, work or manage with everyday life.

b) Physical effects: 

Anxiety can cause a build-up of tension in the body, usually in the neck and shoulders, which can cause physical pain in the back, neck, shoulders and headaches.
If anxiety is causing someone to feel sick, or feel like they need to go to the toilet, it can cause digestive concerns, causing things like constipation, IBS and/or diarrhoea.
If someone is using coping mechanisms of recreational drugs, alcohol or prescribed medication, these can all have physical side effects such as liver and kidney problems, altering blood pressure and heart rates, all potentially causing more long-term damage and problems.

How an individual’s anxiety can affect others:

With all of the items previously referred to in these blogs, one of the biggest concerns for others is not understanding how the person is feeling or understanding why they are behaving their way they do. This can lead to frustration on both parts, potentially causing conflict and arguments, due to the misunderstandings.
If others are helping or caring for the person suffering, they themselves can feel overwhelmed, tired to the point of exhaustion, the potential themselves to feel they are not able to help or not doing enough and so their own self-esteem and confidence can reduce. Carers and those close to the sufferer, could feel resentful and angry towards the person, potentially having their own unhelpful thoughts towards them. I have known siblings to feel rejected and unworthy whilst another seems to have all the attention upon the other instead of them, which can cause long-term psychological problems too.
The anxiety of one could be ‘passed on’ to another, for instance a parent them becoming anxious and stressed about something their child is feeling.

It is interesting to see how anxiety can effect is in different ways, and the types of feelings that can be experienced.  It is important we recognise the signs of anxiety early on before it spirals out of control and starts to interfere with daily life.  Others will want to help if they are aware there is a problem.  Some people are very good at hiding their anxiety and put on a brave face.  Being able to speak out and ask forhelp requires courage.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a qualified stress management consultant, mental health first aider, hypnotherapist and body work therapist focusing on helping reduce and alleviate concerns connected to both physical and emotional pain.  Tracey is also a teacher and trainer, delivering workshops and accredited mental health courses.

Tracey is available for a no-obligation chat to see how we could work together on 01889 808388 or [email protected]

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