People may experience anxiety when they attending a job interview, doing something new or when confronted with something they are scared of. Whilst anxiety is an emotion that we all experience, for some, anxiety is felt at an intensity and duration that significantly impacts their life at a sufficient severity to be called an anxiety disorder.

There are many types of anxiety disorders including: phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety disorders vary depending on what is feared and how one respond to the anxiety. Despite the type, all anxiety disorders are associated with the experience of fear and anxiety which disrupts day to day functioning.


Symptoms of anxiety:

The experience of anxiety includes a combination of physical, thinking and behavioural symptoms that include:

  • Surge of overwhelming panic
  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Feeling like you’re going to pass out
  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Feeling detached or unreal


Risk factors for anxiety:

There is no single cause for anxiety it is caused by a range of factors, which interact. These include

Genetic factors:
Anxiety is more common for people who have a family history of anxiety

Personal factors:
There are certain types of people that may be more vulnerable to anxiety, for example, if you are a worrier, perfectionist or if you are a shy and have low self-esteem

Biochemical factors:
There may be some people whose anxiety is related to an imbalance in brain chemistry

Life Events:
Experiencing challenging life events like the loss of a loved one may contribute to anxiety


Managing Anxiety:

Write down your worries:
Keep a pad and pencil on you, or type on a laptop, handphone, or tablet. When you experience anxiety, write down your worries. Writing down is harder work than simply thinking them, so your negative thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.

Create an anxiety worry period:
Choose one or two 10 minute “worry periods” each day, time you can devote to anxiety. During your worry period, focus only on negative, anxious thoughts without trying to correct them. The rest of the day, however, is to be designated free of anxiety. When anxious thoughts come into your head during the day, write them down and “postpone” them to your worry period.

Accept uncertainty:
Unfortunately, worrying about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable-it only keeps you from enjoying the good things happening in the present. Learn to accept uncertainty and not require immediate solutions to life’s problems.

Practice relaxation techniques:
When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.

Adopt healthy eating habits:
Start the day right with breakfast, and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel more anxious.

Reduce alcohol and nicotine:
They lead to more anxiety, not less.

Exercise regularly:
Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.

Get enough sleep:
A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.


* Source: Health Promotion Board

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