Five questions to help you examine your anxiety and fears.
1. What is anxiety?
The simplest way to define anxiety is how an individual's body and mind respond to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come.
Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control like there's a disconnect between your mind and body. You are likely to be contemplating two words: what if. This thought is followed by the worst scenario your brain can devise.
According to research, there are three primary things that produce anxiety:
1) fear of losing control
2) intolerance of uncertainty
3) lack of trust (Kluger, 2020)
2 - What makes anxiety such a severe problem?
Anxiety can rob people of their energy, time, and productivity. Anxiety can interfere with your life. Most people with anxiety concerns may even experience physical symptoms such as:
· increased heart rate
· rapid breathing
· trouble concentrating
· difficulty falling asleep
Anxiety can also compromise someone's physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing.
3 - We hear that mental health issues are rising, but what was the rate of anxiety before the pandemic, and was it a significant concern then?
Before the pandemic, based on data from the World Economic Forum (2019), the number one global mental health concern was anxiety. When it comes to mental health, many believe that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. However, depression is not the number one mental health concern people face; it is anxiety. Additionally, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health disorders.
Based on diagnostic interview data of a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S., approximately 19% of adults in the U.S. had an anxiety disorder, and 31% had an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime. An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That's around 4% of the global population. Approximately 62% of those suffering from anxiety are female (170 million), compared with 105 million male sufferers.
4 – What is causing the rise in anxiety?
Many have fears of impending doom, such as economic crisis, wars, and death. Others are living with anxiety because they are not able to visualize hope in their situations. Furthermore, as the physical coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, many are finding it hard to cope. More and more, doctors report the spread of despair, worry and depression, and anxiety among their patients. With depression and sleep difficulties, anxiety symptoms seem to be the most diffused clinical outcome (Kluger, 2020).
The World Health Organization stated, due to a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern in the general population, there is an overall worsening of individuals' psychological health. The World Health Organization is sending high alarm for health care providers to help manage both medical and psychological concerns worldwide.
5 - What is the current prevalence of anxiety in America and other countries around the world during the pandemic?
According to a recent study on the Chinese population and another study with the Italian people, there is a definite increase of individuals struggling with anxiety symptoms, followed by depression and sleep disorders. (Cannito et al., 2020).
Anxiety symptoms are also on arise in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. In America, research by Parcesepe et al., 2020, was conducted to estimate the prevalence of anxiety symptoms among adults in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. This analysis includes data from 5,250 adults. Their findings also suggest that among adults in the U.S. during the COVID-19, greater than one-third
(33%) of participants reported moderate or severe anxiety symptoms. The study found the highest levels of anxiety reported among the youngest participants.
6 - How is anxiety compared to other mental health concerns during this pandemic?
Anxiety disorders have always been associated with poor physical health, co-morbid mental health disorders, and disability. Additionally, anxiety lowers our immune system. Recent research reveals that several health-related factors, including smoking, depression, and COVID-19-like symptoms, were associated with a greater prevalence of moderate or severe anxiety symptoms (Parcesepe et al., 2020).
7 - What are the stressors that are causing the rise of anxiety right now?
During the height of the pandemic, survey results suggest that potential stressors, including lost income and worry about getting COVID-19, are the majority's highest anxiety-provoking thoughts.
Research shows that having lost income, having recent COVID-like symptoms, and being previously diagnosed with depression were positively associated with anxiety symptoms. The anxious thoughts and ongoing stressors of many right now include financial or employment-related stress or concern for one's physical health or the health of loved ones (Parcesepe et al., 2020).
Among younger populations, there are worries more about the long-term impact of COVID-19 on employment, schooling, or financial trajectories. College students worry more about future work and economic stability, absence of interpersonal relationships, and loneliness (Cannito et al., 2020).
8 - What can people do to address their anxiety?
Anxiety is built on three factors, the feeling of losing control, uncertainty of what will happen, and lack of trust. How should those factors be addressed? People should adopt and develop the opposite mindset.
1 The opposite of losing control is to learn how to gain or surrender control.
2 The opposite of having a lack of knowledge is to learn about the future and about future events.
3 The opposite of lacking in trust to know how to develop trust.
Of course, adopting this opposite mindset is easier said than done. The question is, how can this be done? In reality, we all trust in something. Therefore, examine your level of trust. Ask yourself five questions and make a list of your answers:
1-Who or what sources do you trust? Why? (God, wealth, doctors, lawyers, politicians, career, etc.)
2-Under what circumstances do you trust? Why?
3-Does your source know about future events, predictions, or trends? How?
4-What is the level of trust you have in your source? Why?
5- Is your source rational, loving, trustworthy, and sustainable? Why?
If any of your answers contain God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, the Word, then consider a few Bible promises:
• For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
• But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice...let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. Psalm 5:11
• Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
• Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
9 – Any last thoughts?
My last thoughts are that you keep in mind the following:
Since tomorrow is not promised, you
We must live your best life TODAY.
Learn to be more grateful for what you have TODAY.
Appreciate the people in your life TODAY.
Reach out to those who mean the most to you and let them know you care and love them TODAY.
Find the time to make things right with others TODAY.
Learn more about what the Word says about the future TODAY.
God is love (1John 4:8). There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear. (1 John 4:18). Therefore, give love the opportunity in your life to work out the challenges within.
Cannito, L., Di Crosta, A., Palumbo, R., Ceccato, I., Anzani, S., La Malva, P., Palumbo, R., & Di Domenico, A. (2020). Health anxiety and attentional bias toward virus-related stimuli during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73599-8
Holland, K. (2020, September 3). Everything You Need to Know About Anxiety. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
Kluger, J. (2020, March 26). The Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Causing an Anxiety Pandemic. Time. https://time.com/5808278/coronavirus-anxiety/
Parcesepe, A. M., Robertson, M. K., Berry, A., Maroko, A., Zimba, R., Grov, C., Westmoreland, D., Kulkarni, S., Rane, M., Salgado-You, W., Mirzayi, C., Waldron, L., & Nash, D. (2020). The relationship between anxiety, health, and potential stressors among adults in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. MedRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.30.20221440
This is the world’s biggest mental health problem - and you might not have heard of it. (2019, January 14). World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/this-is-the-worlds-biggest-mental-health-problem/