What Causes Anxiety?
XXIst century is a century of anxiety, ruled by crazy pace of life, global disasters, distress, imposed by media. All of the above lay a good foundation for on-going uneasiness, where we are programming ourselves for more misfortunes and don't exactly know when and where to expect them. Anxiety is often caused by irrational fears which are not necessarily grounded in specific source of danger, but rather are focusing on the emotional state in general. We all experienced anxiety in some way or other, but for some people it has become a real burden which hugely interferes with their daily life.
You are most probably familiar with the situation where you finished running all your errands for the evening and are finally laying in bed but all of a sudden there are thousands of worrisome thoughts in your head, forming a constant chatter, inner dialogue, pretender voices, channeling all the events of the day and forecasting possible scenarios for tomorrow, especially if you are going through a life-changing experience, distress in addition to all the junk food, sweets, alcohol or coffee, consumed right before bedtime to enhance the feeling of guilt even more. The coherence of all of the above causes anxiety, which inevitably affects our sleep and, ultimately, the next day. The big question, however, is whether this type of situation can be an isolated incident, which can happen to all of us at some point, or, does anxiety become our obsessive companion and alters our whole life?!
The truth is also that we have to process enormous amount of information through our brain, and if we trust our unconscious mind, it takes good care of this wealth of information, sorting it out and classifying it for us, as well as giving us signals when something is wrong through the feeling of anxiety. This is how anxiety appears and we intuitively feel that something is wrong but cannot define the rational cause.
Let us take an example of a couple, where the relationship is not working but since there are children involved (or, it may be other reasons), the wife prefers not to notice her husband's late returns, suspicious absent-minded smiles and lack of interest to her or any household issues in a conscious way. But her subconscious mind is very intuitive and sends her emotional messages through unexplained and sudden access of anxiety. The wife subconsciously feels that something is wrong and directs her anger towards other people, hopefully not her own children, in the fear of looking into the real reason of her anxiety, which is her husband.
An anxiety disorder differs from the normal episode of anxiety in the following ways:
- it is more severe and intense;
- it is more lasting;
- it interferes with the person's ability to function, affecting all areas of life, work, home, relationships, emotional state etc.
- it occurs when the person is not in the state of danger.
An anxiety disorder affects the way the person feels, thinks and behaves, and, if not addressed on time, it could become chronic and lead to considerable suffering, depression, substance use and other clinical consequences. It is caused by perceived threats in the environment. Some people are more likely than others to develop an anxiety disorder when they are threatened, or they believe they are:
- Gender - women (16%) are more likely to develop anxiety disorders than men (9%) over a lifetime;
- Family history of anxiety or a mental health problem or people who had anxious parent;
- People who have had life events that were stressful and traumatic (e.g. difficult childhood, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, over strictness)
- Personal history of anxiety in childhood or adolescence, including 'shyness';
- Having other mental health problems, especially depression*.
It is important to remember that adequate therapy and treatment can be very beneficial to address anxiety in its' root cause . Hypnotherapy offers a gentle and empowering approach to provide the individual the tools to be able to address hers or his anxiety until it disappears; it allows the person to tap into their unconscious mind in order to mobilize own resources and powers to resolve conflicting emotional and psychological issues.
*Antony M.M, & Swinson, R.P (1996) Anxiety disorder and their treatment: a critical review of the evidence based literature, Ottawa (ON): Health Canada