In this blog, Dr Jane Alexander Director of Undergraduate Studies at ICHAS talks about anxiety and how it is a mechanism that can cause other symptoms.
Stress and Anxiety in Everyday Life
It’s important to remember that stress is a normal part of life. We all at some time or another experience occasional anxiety. But you can experience anxiety that goes on, it seems uncontrollable and overwhelming. 1 in 6 people in Ireland will experience a mental health problem like anxiety each year.
What happens when we become anxious is that it can be overwhelming and we can dread everyday situations and begin to avoid them and it can actually interfere with our everyday lives.
When it interferes with daily activities like getting up, getting dressed, going to work then it may be an actual anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are more serious and there are some serious physical disorders like heart disease and diabetes and they are very common. The term anxiety disorder refers to specific conditions that involve extreme (and the emphasis here is on the word extreme) fear or worry. This includes areas such as:
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Panic attacks
The Effects in the Long-Term
One of the most important things to remember is that if it is prolonged it causes physical wear and tear to the body as well. In fact, most prolonged episodes (over months) nearly always culminates in depression as anxiety is a mechanism.
Depression is a symptom but is caused by a mechanism where the nervous system tries to protect itself through withdrawal from stress and external stimuli where people become reluctant to engage in conversation, they have no energy, they have sleep disturbance.
It’s important not to let stress and anxiety not get out of hand, as I said before they are common, you can be helped through counselling and psychotherapy and in some cases, your doctor might prescribe medication.
Dr Jane Alexander has an MA in Counselling Psychology which is in psychodynamic psychotherapy and her thesis investigated the close relationships of depressed men. Her main research interests are in acute mental health care and in the relationship between severe life events and depression.