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anxiety disorders
December 6, 2021

Why Do I Have Anxiety?

Anxiety is an evolutionary response to challenging or frightening events. It can bring about a heightened state of focus and alertness as your brain and body prepare to cope with the perceived threat. Minor issues like traffic jams or significant ones such as the death of a loved one are examples of anxiety triggers. However, these everyday anxieties are different from the continuous, excessive worry and fear that characterize anxiety disorders.

If you find your anxiety affects your ability to work or manage other responsibilities, you may be among the more than 30% of American adults who experience anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. Why does anxiety happen, and what can you do about it?

What Causes Anxiety?

While everyone occasionally feels anxious or stressed out, people with anxiety disorders struggle with ongoing, persistent worry and fear about daily situations. They may also deal with sudden, intense onsets of uncontrolled terror known as panic attacks. 

You may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder if your anxiousness and fear interfere with your everyday life, are difficult to control and are irrationally disproportional to any actual danger. Extreme avoidance of specific places or situations is another hallmark of anxiety disorders like agoraphobia and social phobia, which can be debilitating.  

Sometimes, anxiety results from a medical condition like a substance use disorder. It may also be a side effect of some medications. However, some people may be genetically predisposed to develop anxiety if mental health conditions run in their families. Additionally, anxiety can co-occur with other mental health disorders like depression and trauma.

Complications of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety does more than trap people in a cycle of excessive worry. It can also play havoc with your sleeping patterns and take the joy out of life. Other health issues associated with anxiety include:

  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches and body aches from unresolved tension
  • Self-isolation
  • Avoidance and other maladaptive coping mechanisms
  • Self-medication with alcohol and drugs
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating and carrying out responsibilities

Eustress vs. Distress

Some forms of stress can be beneficial. Perhaps you remember times when you wanted to excel in school or impress your colleagues at work. Or, think back to milestone life events like getting married or starting a new job. You probably felt anxious on all those occasions, but as a result, you were also more motivated to make positive changes. Health professionals call this helpful stress eustress – the opposite of distress. 

Unlike distress, which you may associate with anxiety-inducing, overwhelming situations you prefer to avoid, eustress can provide you with the necessary energy, motivation and focus to confront or solve the problem at hand. In some circumstances, healthy coping mechanisms and a shift in your mindset can combine to channel the energy provided by your innate fight-or-flight response in ways that let you work toward a solution. 

It is not realistically possible to reframe all distress you experience as eustress. However, a qualified counselor or therapist can help you learn to manage your anxiety by equipping you with practical coping mechanisms you can use in your daily life, like breathing exercises and grounding techniques.

How to Get Over Anxiety

If anxiety is affecting your ability to live a fulfilling life by causing you to make unhealthy choices, you may be at high risk for developing a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder. Dual diagnoses are challenging, but with evidence-based treatment at an accredited facility, you can break the cycle and find freedom. 

To learn more about recovering in Florida, including the qualities that make Beach House one of the nation’s leading dual-diagnosis rehab facilities, including our amenities and industry-leading therapist-to-client ratio, connect with our professional admissions counselors today. Your call is confidential, and we welcome your questions 24/7.  

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