Anxiety: You Are What You Experience

A fascinating study has recently been published that examined why twins can display differing levels of anxiety. They conclude that experiences during their formulative years play a massive role in determining why one twin may be more anxious than the other.

It’s one of the most common and frequently occurring mental health disorders, but anxiety is still misrepresented. Unfortunately, many websites and magazines will begin articles claiming that we all know what it’s like to have a panic attack; an entirely misleading statement. As well as feelings of faintness and panic, sufferers can feel problems with breathing and the heart, and physical symptoms such as diarrhea and an upset stomach can also be apparent. It’s clear anxiety ranges in severity and manifestation, but it can also be triggered by a variety of factors. It is made up of behavioral, cognitive, somatic and emotional components, so self-treatment can often be ineffective or inadvertently stressful.

One reason for the onset of anxiety can be the things we experience around us. Virginia Commonwealth University has recently published the results of a study examining exactly how experience is related to anxiety, and have found an overwhelming connection between the two. Our genes have much to do with the levels of fear we experience every day, but according to the results our early life experiences do too.

By studying 12,000 identical twins, researchers were able to examine people with identical genetic components and shared family environments. As the twins grew up and began to diverge in their lifestyles, they increasingly differed in their symptoms and anxiety levels. However, once they reached adulthood they stopped further diverging, showing that their individual childhood experiences had an effect on their later levels of anxiety.

If you, a family member or friend is suffering from anxiety or fear, there’s a lot of help and support out there. Anxiety disorders tend to respond well to treatment, and Life Works has vast experience at helping such individuals. Depending on the specific disorder and its severity, those suffering from anxiety can undergo cognitive-behaviour therapy or exposure therapy, and take medication to help in the mean time. Treatment will not only address the feeling of discomfort or fear, but identify the underlying triggers too; in turn, patients often feel stronger and more in control, so as to tackle any recurrence in anxiety.

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