Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million Americans at any given time. Most of these individuals are seen routinely in primary-care practice, yet only one in four are accurately diagnosed and provide anxiety relief. Often patients are present with various vague physical complaints, causing clinicians to completely ignore the possibility of anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a term used to describe feelings of uncertainty, uneasiness, apprehension, or tension that a person experiences in response to an unknown object or situation. A “fight-or-flight” decision is made by the person in an attempt to overcome conflict, stress, trauma, or frustration. It was recognized as a medical diagnostic entity in the late 1800s. Before then, anxiety was considered a feature of many medical conditions.
Fear differs from anxiety attacks in a way that fear is the body’s physiologic and emotional response to a known or recognized danger. A person whose car stalls on a railroad crossing experience fear of injury or death as the train approaches the crossing. On the other hand, the client who undergoes an emergency exploratory surgery may be afraid of the surgery and develop symptoms of anxiety because the client is uncertain what the outcome will be. The clinical symptoms of anxiety are numerous. They are generally classified as physiologic, psychological, emotional, behavioral, intellectual or cognitive responses to stress, which may vary according to the level of anxiety exhibited by the individual.
What are the Different Levels of Anxiety?
- Level Zero or Euphoria – an exaggerated feeling of well-being that is not directly proportionate to specific circumstances or situations.
- Level One or Mild Anxiety – can be a positive experience in which a person has increased alertness to inner feelings or the environment. Restlessness and inability to relax may be present (ex. Individuals working under stress to meet certain deadlines)
- Level Two or Moderate Anxiety – a narrowing of the ability to perceive occurs. An individual is able to focus or concentrate on only one specific thing. Pacing, voice tremors, increased rate of verbalization or talking physiologic changes, and verbalization about expected danger occurs.
- Level Three or Severe Anxiety – the ability to perceive is further reduced, and focus is on small or scattered details. Inappropriate verbalization, or the inability to communicate clearly occurs at this level
- Level Four or Panic State – complete disruption of the ability to perceive takes place. The disintegration of the personality of an individual becomes immobilized, experiences difficulty in talking, and unable to focus on reality.
Anxiety attacks occur at different levels with varying physical and psychological components. Typically, an individual’s panic attack seems “out of the blue” while the person is engaged in some ordinary activities such as grocery shopping, driving a car, or doing household work. The individual suddenly experiences frightening and uncomfortable symptoms that may include terror, a sense of unreality, or a fear of losing control.
Anxiety relief includes visual imagery, change of pace or scenery, exercise or massage, transcendental meditation, yoga for anxiety and depression, biofeedback, systematic desensitization, relaxation exercises, therapeutic or healing touch, hypnosis, and implosion therapy. Other interactive therapies are also available as well as medication management. These may be done by support groups such as family members as well as health practitioners should medical help is sought.
Stressing the importance of support people to contact should anxiety attacks occur to act as anxiety help is important in alleviating occurrences of anxiety attacks. There are a number of natural anxiety relief products on the market but often people will need prescription intervention for effective anxiety relief.
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