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Natural Health Glossary
Medical Terms, Therapies, Accreditation

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Anxiety
1. A vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some (usually ill-defined) misfortune;
2. A relatively permanent state of anxiety occurring in a variety of mental disorders.

Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to a stressor. It may help an individual to deal with a demanding situation by prompting them to cope with it. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.

The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread.

Anxiety is also associated with feelings of restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, and muscle tension. However, anxiety should not be confused with fear, which is more of a dreaded feeling about something which appears intimidating and can overcome an individual.

Anxiety and psychotherapy

Anxiety is a very common problem of the human condition. There are many different kinds of anxiety.

The feelings can include a sense of apprehensiveness, dread, fear, guilt, distraction, a pervasive sense of danger, and even panic in severe cases. This extremely debilitating experience can have many different causes.

Stress, fatigue, difficulty in making decisions, a general emotional malaise, feelings of depression, and panic are frequent symptoms of core anxiety. Sexual energy drops. There is a tendency either to need others around constantly or to avoid people.

Often people with anxiety grew up without a parent who could help them learn to soothe their everyday anxieties, feel secure, and have a sense of power over themselves and their world.

It is important to remember that it is normal to experience some anxiety at different points in life, as it is often a sensation that comes along with the process of change. Life transitions, unexpected ruptures, trauma and loss can evoke anxiety.

Anxiety is treatable in therapy a number of ways. The most helpful aspect is for the patient to understand how earlier experiences led to this state, and to be able to identify anxiety triggers, develop coping strategies and be able to master unpleasant states of feeling.

Psychotherapy definition courtesy Toronto Therapy Network.

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