It is easy to forget that anxiety is a normal and natural feeling, as are the many other feeling which we all have. However when the feeling of anxiety starts to impact on our day to day life, or when we stop doing those things we have to do because of the feeling of anxiety then it is time to seek professional help and guidance.
What is anxiety
There are many sites on the inter web which can explain anxiety in different ways so I will attempt to keep my explanation short and simple.
The feeling of anxiety is caused by a release of a hormone called adrenaline. Adrenaline is used by the body in situations that are deemed stressful or life threatening. This biological mechanism is often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response and is a legacy of our evolutionary development which helped us safe from being eaten or injured. Clearly it was useful otherwise you would not be reading this.
The primary effects of a release of adrenaline which can be triggered for with in 2 to 3 minutes, are an increased heart rate which intern increases blood pressure, expanding the capacity of lungs, promoting the eyes to dilate, and the redistribution of blood prioritising muscles, this action alters the bodies metabolism. The reaction will increases blood glucose levels, mainly to the brain. Because this mechanism is hardwired into our body once it is triggered it has to run its course. A big part of the initial treatment is learning to manage the symptoms, especially is there are no obvious cause or triggers.
Some people experience something that has become to be called an ‘adrenaline burn’ this is when out of no where a sudden rush of fear comes about, all the symptoms of ‘fight or flight’ this has been explained as a slow accumulative buildup of adrenaline in the bodies tissues suddenly migrate into the bloodstream causing the flight or fight feelings. Often very unpleasant especially if you are not aware of what it is or you understand what is happening. Regular exercise can be one of the things that can help with such events.
There are numerous levels of anxiety and these are often very personal to each and every individual. Some suffers have triggers which cause their anxiety, however other may find themselves feeling anxious for no apparent reason, this is often referred to as ‘free floating anxiety’. For some their experience of anxiety is manageable and just a fleeting event, for others it can be totally debilitating, requiring significant resources, support and time to help reorientate them.
For those who have not experienced anxiety or have not recognised what anxiety is or feels like it can be near impossible to understand what is happening, let alone help someone.
Helping those having anxiety or panic attack.
Symptoms can be so acute that suffers present as if they are having a heart attack, in such cases always call (999 in UK) for urgent medical assistance. It is imposable to tell the difference if you are not medically trained to do so, take no chances. If you are sure it is an anxiety or panic attack help the person to a quiet place out of the way of others, sit them down or if they feel faint better still lay them down on their back with their knees bent and a pillow under their head so they feel as comfortable as they can. Ask them calmly to look at you and tell them “it’s OK, it’s fine” tell them “This will pass, and you will feel better soon. Just breath in for the count of three seconds, and hold it for one second. then slowly release the breath over the count of four seconds, hold for one second and inhale over the count of three seconds”. Repeat this process until they start to feel calmer. It is important to remind them to keep focusing on you. Another important point is ‘STAY CALM YOURSELF’, you state will directly effect the person you are trying to help, remember stay calm.
I hope that by taking a little time to explain what is happening behind the feelings of anxiety that it may go some way in helping to improve the understanding around anxiety and the anxious feelings, preventing the feelings of anxiety spiralling out of control.
The worst thing is being anxious about being anxious.