First stage performance, a difficult entrance exam, or a job interview! Stressful situations can make anyone tense and anxious. However, some people have worries about the future that are mostly out of proportion — for instance, being constantly worried about losing job, falling sick, or meeting deadlines at work.
Isn’t My Anxiety Natural?
When the human brain senses a stressful event, it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to make the body alert. This is a natural phenomenon and happens involuntarily. However, worrying too much about imagined problems that may or may not occur in the future can lead to anxiety.
Have you noticed that different people react differently to stress — for instance, getting stuck in traffic jam or handling work pressure at office? Some people get extremely agitated and anxious, while others stay calm, although both are facing the same situation.
Scientists believe that certain genetic, biological, and environmental factors increase an individual’s vulnerability to develop anxiety.
Can I Manage My Anxiety?
Let’s look at the factors that increase the risk of anxiety. Some factors are non-modifiable; you cannot correct them, but you can certainly find some healthy lifestyle changes to keep anxiety at bay.
1. Family History And Genetics
Research suggests that anxiety runs in the family; so there seems to be a genetic connection.
Scientists have found that you are five times more likely to develop anxiety if your parent/s or siblings show such behavior. The gene that carries anxiety behaviors from one generation to the other also carries the risk of other mental illnesses such as depression or panic disorder.
You can’t do anything to change your genes, but if you are aware of a family history, you can surely look for healthy ways to manage your anxiety before it turns into a severe condition.
2. Abnormalities Of Brain Structure
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is an important part in the brain that is responsible for controlling our emotions. This very region of the brain is thought to be associated with an abnormal response to stress and anxiety. Furthermore, alterations in neurotransmitters such as dopamine or serotonin also make some people vulnerable to anxiety.
This mainly holds true for those who develop clinically significant anxiety or depression that needs a proper medical assistance. However, if you feel anxious because of your stressful lifestyle, you must first try to learn the healthy ways to cope with stress and manage your anxiety.
Research suggests that women show a higher risk of suffering from anxiety compared with men.
Scientists believe that female reproductive hormones, especially estrogen, may play an important role in the expression of these gender differences. In addition, being under too much stress in childhood also makes women develop anxiety as they enter adulthood. In modern times, many women struggle to manage their professional and family life, which can result in too much stress and anxiety.
Practicing yoga and meditation or even getting an aromatherapy massage is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety in everyday life.
4. Other Mental Disorders
Anxiety often exists concomitantly with other mental disorders, especially depression. Symptoms such as too much worry, reduced concentration, and sleep problems are common in most mental disorders, including anxiety.
5. Social Factors
Negative experiences in childhood can greatly impact an individual’s mental health in adulthood. Parental abuse, neglect, or parental conflicts are known to increase risk of anxiety as the child passes through adolescence and into adulthood. In addition, other social factors such as sexual abuse during childhood or adolescence can also cause anxiety.
Most importantly, life events such as loss of job or psychological harassment that signal upcoming “danger” may subsequently lead to anxiety.