Anxiety symptoms arise naturally from our flight or fight response – that then gets out of control. And like a wind that fans flames and can create a massive forest fire, so anxiety can spread into all areas of our lives.
You are being emotionally hi-jacked
An anxiety will manifest in a number of ways – as Phobias, Social Anxiety, Performance Anxiety, Agoraphobia and debilitating and uncontrollable Worrying and projection which is often called Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Some also argue that OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a manifestation of anxiety as indeed it is – but I prefer to see it an addiction.
Brief detail and pointers on various anxiety symptoms – and links to more information
The most dramatic manifestations of a powerful flight or fight reaction are Trauma and PTSD (or post traumatic stress disorder). And because the immediate effects are so severe, the later consequences can also be severe – in terms of broken relationships, work problems and addictive behaviours.
An anxiety might manifest as a Panic Attack. This is when the body is preparing to flee but nothing comes of it – i.e. there is no action that discharges the preparation. The consequences can be severe and immediate – similar to the experience of having a heart attack. This itself can become a trauma in its own right
Anxieties and in particular the fear of panic attacks and trauma will therefore lead to hyper-vigilance to body sensations and the avoidance of potentially threatening situations.
The anxiety symptoms of Hyper-vigilance and avoidance then make things worse by making life even more difficult. Some will not feel comfortable travelling or risking social situations – at an extreme, agoraphobia and social anxieties can easily manifest.
And almost always excessive and unproductive worrying and projections will be part of it.
This then can transmute into many other manifestations of anxieties – such as Performance Anxiety and Social Anxiety.
Phobias can also arise, either from a high level of general anxiety or the response to a particular phobic experience – involving air travel, heights, an attack by a dog, hospital experiences – the list is endless.
A special example of a phobic reaction could then become Agoraphobia – fear of leaving the safety of home.
My experience is that addictive behaviours can often be traced to anxieties – as attempts to self medicate which then get out of control and typically further exacerbate the anxiety.
A permanent ‘problem’ of uncontrolled symptoms of anxiety needs a long-term solution
Drugs are often recommended by clinicians as the answer but in my experience there are much better ways than this ‘quick fix’. What we need is the ability to use our anxiety well. We need to become a little bit anxious when we are going to do a presentation. We need to be able to become a little bit anxious in unfamiliar surroundings. We need to be able to panic if attacked and we need to be able to relax when it is unnecessary.
And when we no longer fear the fear and indeed can welcome it in and hear what it may be saying – well then we have no anxiety problem to deal with.