According to the National Institutes of Health, some 2.6 billion people – or 33.7% of the population of the world — will at some point experience an anxiety disorder. And yet, the disorder is widely misunderstood.
The experience of clinical anxiety can range from distractedness, to persistent fretfulness, to a full-blown panic attack, complete with hyper-ventilation, heart palpitations, and other physical symptoms. All of it feels scary and difficult or impossible to control — which compounds the misery.
The most common anxiety disorders include: include general anxiety disorder, agoraphobia (or fear of being in public situations you can’t escape), social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and separation anxiety disorder.
Happily, not only are these anxiety disorders diagnosable and controllable, but they are also very treatable.
Anxiety may, by definition, feel bad, but that doesn’t mean it is always bad. It exists as a way for your brain to grab your attention when you’re stumbling into danger, which is handled by two brain regions: the amygdala and the more complex cerebral cortex.
The amygdala processes very basic emotions like fear, anger, guilt, and envy. A good example of this is the fear you experience from a scary movie. The job of the cerebral cortex is to determine whether or not the threat is real, and what to do about it. Sometimes, however, the fear alarm gets stuck and the cerebral cortex has trouble trying to sort real risks from exaggerated ones. Moreover, extended bouts of insomnia can also produce anxiety.
How do you know if you have an anxiety disorder that should be addressed? Since there is no blood test to tell for certain, here are the red flags denoting a problem:
- You have a high level of distress that gets in the way of day to day activity.
- Your panic is persistent.
- You avoid things because of your fears.
- Your fears interfere with your daily life.
In general, says Leanne O’Neil, if your enjoyment of life becomes compromised by anxiety, it’s a good idea to seek help. Although no one can live a life untouched by anxiety, with the right skills and help, no one needs to live a life that is destroyed by it, either.
INDY Neurofeedback has an effective program to help those with anxiety. Come talk to us to see if it is right for you.