Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. However, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The anxiety interferes with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s total mental health bill. There are several types of anxiety disorders. Learn more about them at the National Institute of Mental Health.
The majority of my clients come to me with some sort of anxiety that influences their performance. It is not uncommon for people to feel anxiety when faced with a high-pressure performance.
Common symptoms of anxiety are:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Not being able to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
Anxiety affects the frontal lobes or the limbic system (or both). Thus, those feeling anxious may have with executive functioning, which is important for focus and reasoning. For example, when I was in business school, I would feel such anxiety before tests that I would vomit before tests and choke when I took them. Although I knew the material, I would erase my correct answers, doubting myself. It wasn’t until I studied anxiety [in my master’s program for counseling psychology] that I learned that there are several ways to combat performance anxiety. When I learned these, I became more able to control my anxiety and developed resilience. Read about ways to manage performance anxiety in my blog here.
If you are suffering from consistent, longterm anxiety, talking to a counselor is a helpful way to address the roots of your anxiety and build solutions. Anxiety does not have to rule your life, it is something that you can work on.
Learn more about anxiety and find resources at ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Join the Stand UP Foundation on Friday, March 3 at 7:00 PM for a Neon Nights Walk at Harbourside. The walk will educate participants about issues such as anxiety and help fund Stand UP’s programs. Summit Performance Consulting LLC is proud to be a Neon Night’s sponsor. Click here to register!