In my outpatient psychology practice, I see eight things every
day--they show up again and again, presenting in one form or another.
One of the bigger and more negative experiences clients have is anxiety.
Many people seek relief from anxiety. In fact, on searches using Google
and Yahoo, anxiety is the keyword used over thirteen hundred times
per month. The experience of anxiety is pervasive, bothersome and often
Anxiety is about loss of control. We feel anxiety when something,
someone or situation is not what we can manage. For most of us,
this is external, like when we have to speak in public and we imagine
all kinds of evils that are about to happen, little of which we can handle.
Anxiety is also internally generated; that is, we feel anxious when there
is something inside ourselves that we cannot manage. The most common
experience is our feelings. Usually, something triggers an association
or associations to past memories; thoughts we do not like and ultimately
to feelings we do not want to feel. The specter of experiencing these as
they rise into awareness produces uneasiness. When it reaches a crescendo,
we call it anxiety.
In both cases, internal and external loss of control, the dynamic is
the same. Anxiety is like a red flag the brain waves to itself from the
inside out, or if you prefer from the back to the front of awareness.
When something is set in motion (via a cue, stimulus or trigger), the
deeper parts of awareness (think subconscious or even unconscious) begin
to associate and recall anything related to the initial perception.
Rumblings are felt as vague, or general sensations that build into more
and more uncomfortable sensations--anxiety.
That is our cue to either change what we are thinking now or change our
venue (leave). This changes the trigger and we stop the associations
that create anxiety. Presto, we have learned to control our anxiety by
changing what we think or where we happen to be or by altering what we are
saying or doing.
However, for some of us, the anxiety is automatic and severe.
In other words, there is not much of a build up between cue and symptoms.
It can happen almost instantly. These unfortunate people have anxiety
disorders, of which there are seven major ones. In addition, they can
suffer from any one of thirty-three signs of anxiety, none of which are
To complicate matters, anxiety can tag along with other psychological
disorders. Major Depression has as one component, anxiety about
seventy-five percent of the time. Minor Depression comes with anxiety
about a third of the time. Have a psychotic disorder? That will
really spike fear.
Substance abuse disorders, including alcoholism (a liquid drug) comes with
anxiety, which is usually why people indulge in drinking or drugs in the
first place. If they did not have anxiety before they indulged, they
usually have more anxiety afterwards. This is most severe in those who
indulge in the use of amphetamines, which more obviously and dramatically
alter moods. (There are many exceptions because all drugs alter our
intrapersonal process in some fashion.)
Understanding how this works, the details of anxiety disorders, and the
many symptoms is what psychologists impart to patients in their psychology
practices. Many of us also have written books, or in this author's case,
an ebook that provides step-by-step instructions for the do-it-yourself types.
Many people do not realize they have an anxiety disorder. Conversely,
many people think they have a disorder when they do not. This author's
ebook shows everyone how to differentiate just these aspects of their
experience and if there is something worth paying attention to, what to
do about it.