Anxiety, Panic and Stress
Anxiety is a physiological state that’s caused by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). SNS is always active at the base level (called sympathetic tone) and becomes more active in stressful situations.
The “flight or fight” response occurs from here. Anxiety doesn’t need an outside influence too often based on irrational or illogical fears.
Panic is related to the “fight or flight” mechanism. It’s a reaction brought on by outside stimulus and is a product of the sympathetic nervous system.
Panic in general is a sudden fear that can dominate or replace
Panic usually occurs in a situation that is perceived to be health or life threatening. Panic is an anxiety state we’re thinking about.
Stress is a psychosocial reaction. It’s influenced by the way a person filters non threatening external events.
The filtering is based on the person’s assumptions, ideas and expectations. These assumptions, ideas and expectations can be referred to as social constructionism.
Panic and stress both play important roles in the natural survival instinct. The preparations for fight or flight are the body’s defense mechanisms.
Preparing for whichever course of action is decided upon to preserve life, health or whatever is in danger.
Anxiety doesn’t always stem from an actual need for fear or defensive action. Escaping situations that make us anxious may bring relief, but these feelings are intensified when we face similar situations.
This encourages us to escape the situation again instead of working through the anxiety.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety or panic attacks are sudden periods of intense anxiety, fear and discomfort. While these attacks might seem to happen for no reason, they’re actually the body’s response to what it perceives as the need
for “fight or flight”.
The attacks usually last about ten minutes, but can be as short as one minute. In severe cases, these attacks can happen in cycles.
These cycles may last for extended periods. These cycles can cause “anticipation” anxiety between episodes.
Physical symptoms of anxiety attacks generally include shortness of breath, heart palpitations and sweating.
Tingling and numbness in the extremities, dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches and nausea are also commonly experienced.
These may appear to be random, but they’re actually the result of the body’s preparations for protection.
The anxiety attack is brought on by a sudden onset of fear. In response, the body releases adrenaline followed by increases in the heart and breathing rate and production of sweat (to regulate body
These actions prepare the body for the physical activities of fighting or escaping. Because the anticipated strenuous activity rarely follows the
panic attack, these reactions result in physical discomfort.
The increased heart rate is felt as heart palpitations. Rapid breathing (hyperventilation) results in a drop in carbon dioxide levels in the lungs and blood.
This leads to the tingling, numbness, dizziness and lightheadedness. The adrenaline causes a narrowing of the blood vessels which results in less blood flow to the head. This also contributes to the lightheadedness and headaches.
The positive behavior will occur if you practice relaxation techniques
The positive behavior will occur if you practice relaxation techniques. The stress and anxiety free lifestyle you adapt will be a normal part of your life if you eat correctly and hold tight to the conviction that less is most times more. Otherwise anxiety can affect us in an unhealthful manner quite rapidly.
Anxiety is not a hidden agenda in our lives. It is powerful, available and gratefully controllable. As a wise man once said we should not ask why we are anxious we should ask why not?
With every aspect of modern life being fast paced and overloaded we have to make a concerted effort to slow down.
We also have to be careful not to cause anxious behavior to overflow and spill into the lives of the people with which we are in contact.
Coworkers, spouses, and our children can all be affected by the power our anxiety has on us. Sometimes others can see it long before we even notice it is crowding in on us.
Sometimes we can inadvertently create anxiety in others merely by our choice of words or actions.
If the cycle of anxiety is going to end it has to be recognized, addressed, and extracted from every aspect of our lives.
Coworkers or employees can experience inadequate work performances simply by working in a stress filled workplace.
Slowing the pace and considering how people work better in a stress-free environment is a major step in the right direction. It is not a difficult step and has so many great benefits for everyone involved.
Spouses may only realize there is something wrong yet not fully recognized that stress and anxiety are occurring and causing ripples in the marriage.
It is very likely that if one marriage partner is anxious due to money problems, working too much, or parenting issues the other partner is also anxious.
This vicious cycle can wreak havoc on a typically loving home and the people who dwell within.
Children live what they learn. They may truly believe they are creating the anxious behavior in mom or dad because of something they did. Young children will internalize and reflect their concerns in guilt.
Older children will more likely rebel and act out in school to attempt dealing with the emotional overload of dealing with parents who are not relaxed.
The good news is anxiety is effectively treated in various ways. You can choose to treat anxiety medically, holistically, or personally and gain immediate results.
The key to successful treatment of anxiety is to recognize it for what it truly is. There are numerous self-help books, web pages, and meetings available to all ages.
Camille McClellan, MD, DNM, MBS
McClellan Natural Health, Wellness & Nutrition
Free Naturopathic/Homeopathic Consults Available