Anyone who struggles with anxiety knows how intense it can get. Even though it's a normal and healthy emotional response, when a person regularly feels heightened levels of anxiety, it become debilitating. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 40 million adults have an anxiety disorder. Struggling with intense anxiety becomes an isolating experience, but rest assured that you are not alone.
The Bible talks about the peace from anxiety:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
1 Corinthians 7:32
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord.
What is anxiety?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure."
Anxiety disorders center around excessive nervousness, apprehension, and intense fear. It's a category of mental health diagnoses that alter how a person processes emotions. It may also lead to physical symptoms. Severe anxiety interferes with daily activities and disrupt day-to-day life.
We all feel anxious from time to time. It's natural when our adrenaline is pumping. But there is a difference between regular anxiousness and an anxiety disorder.
Feeling anxious vs. anxiety disorder
Anxiety is not always a medical condition. It's natural for us to be anxious when we are worried. It's an essential part of our survival as humans.
Since the beginning of humanity, our body raises alarms to allow us to take action to keep us alive. These alarms come in the form of raised heartbeat, increased perspiration, and elevated sensitivity to our environment.
The possibility of danger causes a flood of adrenalin in our brains to trigger anxiety reactions. This mechanism is called the "fight-or-flight" response. We experience anxiety to stay alive.
But anxiety becomes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when the intense fear or worry doesn't abate. It creates a sense of impending doom, constant fear, shortness of breath and in some cases, panic attacks. GAD tends to persist over long periods of time. Anxiety on this level becomes debilitating.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive worry. People with anxiety disorders lose a rational perspective. They “expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder
The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often include:
- irrational feelings of worry
- unable to focus
- difficulty sleeping
While some of these might be normal, people with GAD experience these symptoms to the extremes.
Types of anxiety disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) classifies several main types of anxiety disorders.
Here are all the types of anxiety disorders:
Generalize anxiety disorder: The anxiety disorder symptoms involve excessive anxiety and worries about nonspecific events, objects, and situations. This is the most common anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): This is a fear of judgment, social situations, social interactions, or public embarrassment. It includes things like stage fright, worries and fear of intimacy, and avoidance of humiliation and rejection.
Selective mutism: A form of anxiety in children where they are unable to speak in certain places, such as school, even though they have great verbal skills. It's a form of social phobia.
Specific phobia: The irrational fear and anxiety of particular objects or situations. Phobias relate to a specific cause. A person with a phobia might acknowledge their fear as illogical but cannot control their anxiety around the phobia.
Panic disorder: Short and sudden bursts of intense terror and fear. Panic disorders may cause shaking dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Separation anxiety disorder: Separation from a person or place may cause separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety may lead to panic attacks.
Causes of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are complicated. Possible causes are:
- environmental stressors, e.g. relationship problems, or difficulties at work
- brain chemistry, misalignment of hormones or electric signals in the brain
- withdrawal from drugs
Anxiety on the body
Anxiety can be similar to stress as it triggers the autonomic nervous system. It releases stress hormones - epinephrine and cortisol. Too much stress hormone can cause heart attacks and strokes, elevate blood pressure levels, cause muscle tension, suppress the immune system, and restrict blood vessels.
Calming anxiety with Christian meditation
God loves you. In Matthew 11:28-30, the Bible says "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Meditating on God's word helps you learn to lean on God for your worries and fears. It is a continuous approach that helps you calm your mind and let go of your worries. If you have severe anxiety, always talk to your health care professional or mental health professional to see how to make Christian meditation a habit in your treatment program.
Meditation is merely one option in a plethora of treatments to help you deal with anxiety and your relationship with the feelings of anxiety.
Other treatments for anxiety
- Stress management: manage your amount of tasks to make sure your pressure is under control. A healthy perspective is helpful to treat anxiety.
- Support: Be around supportive people, friends, and family who are willing to help. There are also local treatment centers available to help. Talk therapy could dramatically help people struggling with anxiety.
- Exercise: Exercise can improve your self-image and release chemicals that trigger positive feelings.
- Counseling: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, or a combination of therapies can help you lower your anxiety level.
- Anti-anxiety medication: Antidepressants may deal with anxiety. People often use serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) to handle anxiety.
Resources for anxiety
- 5 Examples of What Anxiety Really Feels Like
- 38 Powerful Bible Verses To Overcome Anxiety and Depression
- Overcoming Insomnia from Anxiety: Your Guide to Sound Sleep
- 25 Health Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation, According to Science
- 14 Best Jesus Quotes About Love
- 6 Powerful Prayers for Anxiety and Depression
- How Hormones Affect Anxiety