What is anxiety?

What is anxiety?

In its simplest form, anxiety is described as an emotional and psychological state characterized by feelings of nervousness, worry, and unease. Sometimes these feelings are due to an upcoming event or something that has an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is normal. It’s how many of us deal with stress and it, ironically, can help us prepare for and deal with challenging situations. But anxiety can get out of hand. It can become excessive or ongoing, and it can significantly get in the way of life and also lead to other mental health issues.

Physiologically speaking, anxiety involves the activation of our body’s stress response system. When we perceive a threat, the brain asks our body to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones put our body in a fight-or-flight mode. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, and our energy levels may increase.  This type of response can be helpful in the short-term, but longer term high-stress situations can lead to detrimental health effects. These include heart problems, immune function issues, and gastrointestinal issues.

From a psychological standpoint, there are many ways that anxiety presents itself. These include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, social anxiety disorders, and phobias.

What causes anxiety? Many things. The causes of anxiety can be due to our genetics, our environment, and our mental health. Our family history of mental health disorders factor in. Traumatic experiences, chronic stressors, and major life changes can all trigger or increase symptoms of anxiety. Even personality traits – such as perfectionism or high sensitivity – can make one more prone to anxiety.

The treatment for anxiety can vary, as well. It can include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or any combination. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the more effective psychotherapeutic approaches. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and also develop coping strategies. Lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in reducing anxiety levels. These include regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and stress management techniques like mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

Evolve Counseling Services is Fort Collins’s most trusted therapy practice for treating anxiety with CBT. Give us a call to begin a discussion on how we can help bring out the best in you. Serving students and adults in Fort Collins, Colorado State University, and across Colorado via online therapy sessions.

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