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Emotional Wellness Blog

What is anxiety

by Don Norum

Healthy anxiety reactions

While driving a car suddenly cuts in front of you. While walking, you pass a dog that starts to growl. At work, your boss asks you to lead the next department meeting. Anxiety!

It is your body and mind's alarm system alerting you and generating adrenaline for a potentially intense or dangerous situation.

As fears and anxieties peak and then subside, you are able to use the adrenaline generated by the anxiety to handle the stressful situation in a healthy manner.

Unhealthy anxiety reactions

Anxiety reactions become a problem when your body and mind's alarm system over reacts in a dangerous situation or in a stressful situation that is not dangerous. You focus on your fears/worries about the worst things that could happen conducting the department meeting. The worries generate more worry, an increased heart rate and unnecessary physical tension.

The added tension and intensity of your fears distracts you, increasing the chance you will forget what you are going to say or say something you regret.

Less intense unhealthy anxiety reactions can include:

  1. Excessive worrying
  2. Fatigue
  3. Irritable, impatient
  4. Shallow breathing, shortness of breath
  5. Restless, difficulty slowing down or relaxing
  6. Increased heart rate
  7. Nausea
  8. Physical tension

More intense unhealthy anxiety reactions can include:

  1. Racing, pounding heart
  2. Dizziness or light headed
  3. Tight, tense muscles
  4. Chest pressure or pain
  5. Shaking or trembling
  6. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  7. Fear of passing out
  8. Fear of going crazy, losing control of emotions
  9. Fear of a heart attack or stroke

The combination of learning how to change useless thoughts that generate anxiety and let go of unnecessary physical stress reactions can reduce unnecessary anxiety reactions.

Take the anxiety self assessment. If your score is high consider talking with your family doctor or call Behavioral Health at 414-773-4312 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.