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Anxiety Psychology

Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.

Another view is that anxiety is "a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events" suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers that divides anxiety and fear. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.

Description

Physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, muscle weakness and tension, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headaches. The body prepares to deal with a threat: blood pressure and heart rate are increased, sweating is increased, bloodflow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immune and digestive system functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response). External signs of anxiety may include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupillary dilation. Someone who has anxiety might also experience it as a sense of dread or panic. Although panic attacks are not experienced by every person who has anxiety, they are a common symptom. Panic attacks usually come without warning, and although the fear is generally irrational, the perception of danger is very real. A person experiencing a panic attack will often feel as if he or she is about to die or pass out.

Anxiety does not only consist of physical effects; there are many emotional ones as well. They include "feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) or danger, and, feeling like your mind's gone blank" as well as "nightmares/bad dreams, obsessions about sensations, deja vu, a trapped in your mind feeling, and feeling like everything is scary."

Cognitive effects of anxiety may include thoughts about suspected dangers, such as fear of dying. "You may...fear that the chest pains [a physical symptom of anxiety] are a deadly heart attack or that the shooting pains in your head [another physical symptom of anxiety] are the result of a tumor or aneurysm. You feel an intense fear when you think of dying, or you may think of it more often than normal, or can't get it out of your mind."

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