What Is Anxiety (panic, worry)? Adapted from Psychology Today website www.psychologytoday.com

  • Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.
  • Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.
  • Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body as normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.
  • The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety.

The following is from a recent report on CBS news.

Mindfulness meditation has long been promoted by practitioners as a great stress buster. And there’s actual scientific data to back up the claim. Johns Hopkins researchers culled through 19,000 meditation studies and discovered 47 trials that suggest the alternative therapy can help people suffering from psychological stress, such as anxiety and depression.

On “60 Minutes” last year, Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-trained scientist who practices and teaches mindfulness, gave Anderson Cooper a few tips on how to incorporate a meditative approach into everything you do: “When you’re walking, just walk. When you’re eating, just eat. Not in front of the TV, not with the newspaper. It turns out, that’s huge.”

People can get caught up in mistakes of the past or stress and worry about the future, said Diana Winston, director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. “Mindfulness brings us into this moment.”