Health

Why Do I Feel So Anxious?

Did you know that most people develop symptoms of anxiety disorders before age 21?

Female student feels scared and looking upward isolated over white background
By: Reggie Parker

“Ugh! What is this constant feeling in the pit of my stomach? For the past six months, I just feel nervous all the time. At times my palms begin to sweat, I feel unusually hot and begin to lose my breath. I hate this feeling! What is this?” 

This is anxiety!   

The human stress response, often called the “fight or flight” response, is an amazing system designed to keep you alive when threatened with perceived death or a stressful situation. When all is functioning as it should, anxiety is a normal, helpful emotion which helps us cope with difficult, challenging or dangerous situations. Once the unpleasant event is over, our bodies return to normal and we feel better. 

However, people suffering from an anxiety disorder find everyday events can become triggers, such as facing an exam, normal social interactions or having to go somewhere new. Anxiety can become a problem when it hinders you from enjoying normal life events such as school, work, family relationships, or your social life. 

“Thinking Traps” 

When we perceive things in a negative light naturally we expect negative outcomes. Often people with anxiety develop a feared outcome; they have assumed these negative thoughts are factual and act accordingly, playing the part of mind readers who think they know what everyone else is thinking, or fortune tellers who think they know what is going to happen next. 

Avoidance 

Because anxiety is so unpleasant, many sufferers will shy away from the feared or difficult event, resulting in a coping skill known as avoidance. The problem with avoidance is the more you avoid uncomfortable things, the harder it becomes for them to face fears and overcome worries. 

Utilizing Mindfulness 

One of the things I have found to be helpful when someone is experiencing an anxiety attack is to have them stop and tell you three things they hear, see, and smell. This is a great distraction technique that assists them in regaining control of their thoughts.  

Cognitive Behavior Therapy(CBT) 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing the way you perceive the feared event. CBT is one of the most effective ways of assisting clients experiencing anxiety problems; because we can change the way we think, we can learn to cope with our anxious feelings. 

How Do I Know if My Teen Needs Professional Help? 

All anxiety disorders have one thing in common: they are persistent, presenting with fear or worry in situations that are not actually threatening.  

Parents should be aware that teens can experience one or more of the following symptoms: 

Emotional symptoms:  

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger

Physical symptoms:  

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches
  • Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea.

If these symptoms are persistent, parents should seek professional help. 

  • Approximately 8% of children and teenagers in the U.S. experience the negative impact of an anxiety disorder at school and at home. 
  • 1:6 college students have been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety. 
  • Women are reported to be 60% more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men.
  • Most people develop symptoms of anxiety disorders before age 21. 

Anxiety is much more common among teens than many realize. A survey was administered by FOCUS to determine topics which should be addressed at the FOCUS Rallies to be held in the Fall of 2017. According to respondents, the number one topic of interest was “How to Cope With Anxiety”.  For more information, visit www.thefocusprogram.com. 

 

President and CEO | Catharsis, LLC

Reggie Parker is the President and CEO of Catharsis, LLC.  He is a trainer, negotiator, team leader, and Licensed Professional Counselor. He is a Sergeant and Certified Hostage Negotiator with the Hoover Police Department with over 20 years of service, a Team Leader for the Crisis Negotiation Team and a former instructor of the National Association of School Resource Officers where he trained officers in transitioning from street to school settings. Reggie served as a Police Officer for the Jacksonville State University Campus Police for two years and has been a Police Officer for Hoover Police department since 1995. Reggie received his Master of Science degree in Community Agency Counseling from Jacksonville State University in 2011.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and his Bachelor of Science degree in Corrections from Jacksonville State University in 1994.

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