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Are There Levels of Anxiety?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Are you feeling nervous, restless, or have uncontrollable feelings of worry? Are you experiencing trouble sleeping or are you thinking about problems over and over again without ceasing? You might be suffering from anxiety. Anxiety is an in-built ability within the human body to respond to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or worries about an impending danger.

By itself, anxiety is a normal feeling, and a certain amount of anxiety can be beneficial to you. However, when a person continues experiencing disproportionate emotions characterized by tension, body changes like increased blood pressure, and other extreme anxiety symptoms, they might be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Recently, anxiety disorders have become more common among people, and it is affecting all people regardless of their age bracket. However, women are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with anxiety disorder compared to men. In the United States, an average of 19.1% of people are affected by anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, only 36.9% of the affected people seek medical attention.

The feeling of anxiety and panic can be challenging to control, and this can disrupt your routine activities. If you feel like you are panicking too much, feeling depressed, or even experiencing suicidal thoughts, and all those fears and anxiety are getting extremely difficult to control, this is the right time to see your doctor.

 

Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

The common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Challenges in concentrating or diverting your thoughts from the present worry
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating and trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Procrastination

Some of these problems might be normal to experience in your day-to-day life. Having one or two of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you suffer from anxiety. If you have many of these symptoms or certain symptoms quite frequently, then it is a sign you may have anxiety.

 

Anxiety Disorders

Feeling anxious is normal, but if the duration of an anxious feeling gets out of proportion and extends for more than six months, it is time to realize that you have moved from anxiety into an anxiety disorder.

 

Types of Anxiety Disorder

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    A person might experience a continuous sequence of worries and tension for more than six months. You may also experience muscle tension, a hammering heart, or dizziness.
  1. Social Anxiety Disorder
    A person may develop anxiety while in social gatherings and may find it hard to interact freely with people in social institutions. If you are an extrovert, this type of anxiety can make you highly introverted.
  1. Phobias
    A person may develop particular phobias for animals, insects, or even situations that cause considerable anxiety.
  1. Panic Disorder
    Panic disorder occurs when you experience repeated unexpected panic attacks and feelings of extreme anxiety. You may experience feelings of approaching danger, shortness of breath, chest pain, or increased breathing rate.
  1. Generalized Disorder
    This entails experiencing recurring and intense anxiety and worry concerning activities or events. The worry may be incontrollable to the actual circumstances and may interfere with how you feel physically.

 

Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder may have a root cause that initiated its development. These are commonly referred to as risk factors. Some can be altered while others can’t be. These risk factors include:

  1. History of Mental Health Disorder
    Individuals who have previously suffered from certain mental health disorders, such as depression, have high chances of suffering from an anxiety disorder.
  1. Childhood Abuse
    Many people dealing with anxiety disorders were once victims of childhood sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse or were not given the necessary attention during childhood.
  1. Negative Life Experiences
    Experiencing a traumatic life event like losing a parent while still young increases your risk for anxiety disorder.
  1. Acute Illness or Incurable Health Condition
    A large number of people living with anxiety are either dealing with persistent incurable conditions or taking care of loved ones suffering from chronic diseases, thus causing them to feel anxious.
  1. Lack of Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
    Individuals dealing with an inferiority complex and self-esteem issues may develop a social anxiety disorder.
  1. Trauma
    Going through a traumatic event can surge the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder, resulting in panic attacks.

 

Different Levels of Anxiety

There are different levels of anxiety, and gaining knowledge of each level can help you understand anxiety as a whole. It can also be an effective measure of future occurrences and warning signs you should be aware of. If you can understand the different anxiety levels, you are subjecting yourself to a better comprehension of emotional and mental health. Below are the different levels of anxiety:

 

Mild anxiety

A large number of people suffer from mild anxiety. Since it is a natural part of life, almost everyone experiences mild anxiety on occasion. It can feel like a sense of uneasiness or nervousness.
Mild anxiety is caused by various factors and typically doesn’t last for long. Getting lost in a mall, taking a job or a job interview, moving to a new environment, and many other life events can cause a mild level of anxiety. This type of anxiety keeps you alert and motivates you to be orderly and calculate risks.
Since it is not associated with severe symptoms, mild anxiety may not require medical attention. However, if it develops into a daily struggle, it is time to act since it can affect your social, emotional, and professional functioning. If not given much attention, it can lead to severe mental conditions.

How to Overcome Mild Anxiety

Below are some natural ways to reduce mild anxiety:

  • Keep your body active by engaging in exercise
  • Keep away from alcohol since it is a natural sedative
  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Ensure you get enough sleep
  • Meditate every day for approximately one hour

 

Moderate Anxiety

The symptoms of moderate anxiety are more recurrent and persistent. At this level, you’re likely to put all your concentration and energy into stressful circumstances and ignore other tasks. However, people with moderate levels of anxiety can function better than those people suffering from severe anxiety. A person tackling moderate anxiety levels may experience lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, feeling overwhelmed, an inability to control their worrying, bodily pains, and other symptoms.

Causes of Moderate Anxiety

Some of the external factors that cause moderate levels of anxiety include:

  • Stress as a result of work or school activities
  • Financial challenges
  • Stress from the death of a loved one
  • Stress as a result of natural disasters such as flooding or earthquakes
  • Medical issues
  • Negative effects of certain medications
  • Drug abuse

Moderate levels of anxiety are troublesome. However, people suffering from this type of anxiety may be able to manage their stress levels if they seek medical assistance or embrace self-help strategies.

 

Severe Anxiety

A person suffering from severe anxiety will often have extreme symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms can be debilitating. Some factors that can lead to severe anxiety include loss of employment, the death of a loved one, and traumatic experiences.

Severe anxiety symptoms are often associated with depression, which can lead to greater dysfunction. Severe anxiety victims may suffer from job loss and increased expenses related to health costs. Also, people with severe anxiety may use illicit drugs to deal with their frustrations.

Signs and Symptoms of Severe Anxiety

Symptoms of severe anxiety are recurring and persistent and include the following:

  • Pounding heart
  • Extreme anger
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Frequent and persistent panic

If you or a loved one is suffering from severe anxiety, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible.

 

Panic Anxiety

Panic anxiety occurs suddenly and often without warning. In some people, this type of anxiety occurs once or twice in their lives, but others may deal with panic attacks more frequently.
There are various factors that can contribute to panic anxiety. They include extreme stress levels, genetics, brain changes, drug withdrawal or misuse, and certain medical conditions.

Symptoms of Panic Anxiety

If you have panic anxiety, you may experience:

  • Inadequate breath or tightness in your throat
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Extreme fear
  • Chest pain
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat

While these feelings can be frightening, panic anxiety is rarely dangerous. However, frequent panic attacks can greatly interfere with one’s quality of life, necessitating treatment.

 

Effective Ways of Treating Anxiety

If anxiety remains untreated for a long time, it may lead to serious medical complications. While some anxiety is normal, frequent and overwhelming feelings of stress should be treated. Below are some effective approaches to treating anxiety:

  1. Changing Your Lifestyle
    Since anxiety can be caused by poor lifestyle choices, individuals dealing with anxiety should embrace a healthy lifestyle to prevent this unpleasant ordeal. Some of the changes to make include eating a healthy diet, engaging in an exercise regime, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, skipping caffeine, getting enough sleep, keeping away from medicines or substances that might cause anxiety, and learning to control negative thought patterns.
  1. Mind-Body Techniques
    Dealing with anxiety is unpleasant. However, you can try out some of these mind-body approaches to treat anxiety: deep breathing, muscle contraction and release, and meditation.
  1. Psychotherapy
    Enroll in cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy (CBT) to learn how to deal with anxiety challenges and restructure unhelpful anxious thinking. Patients undergoing psychotherapy can learn to control their emotions and manage stress and get a profound understanding of their behavioral patterns that affect their interpersonal relationships. Exposure therapy is very important as individuals learn to get used to fearful situations or objects through persistent exposure to them.
  1. Medicines
    Individuals experiencing severe levels of anxiety may need medication such as benzodiazepines to calm their mind. They might also be required to take low doses of antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, to ease anxiety. Often, combining both medication and evidence-based therapy is necessary to treat those with severe anxiety.
  1. Counseling
    Counseling involves talking and offering advice to anxiety patients to develop schemes and coping skills to address personal issues. Individuals can seek one-on-one counseling or group therapy sessions to help deal with their anxiety symptoms.

 

Seek Help

When dealing with anxiety, never assume that you can handle the challenge on your own. The truth is that addressing all your challenges by yourself can often lead to more unpleasant experiences and even trigger more severe levels of anxiety. You have everything to gain when you resolve to seek help, assistance, and guidance from medical practitioners or people surrounding you.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we have experience in treating those with substance use disorders that stem from anxiety and other issues. If you or a loved one is self-medicating your anxiety with drugs or alcohol, help is just a phone call away.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.