Talk to a Psychologist: Dealing with anxiety

BY: Junior Graphic
Don't be anxious. Talk to someone

Sometimes when we are faced with certain situations, our bodies begin to react in a certain way and we mostly do not have control over it.

It could be answering  a question in class, talking to someone of the opposite sex for the first time,   making a presentation during assembly or about to write an important examination.

Most students have confirmed that during these periods they experience : difficulty sleeping, dizziness, dry mouth, feelings of nervousness, panic, fear, and a general uneasiness. Others may also have muscle tightness, nausea (a feeling of throwing up), a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweaty or cold hands and/or feet.

Others experience tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, that is to say that they can’t feel their hands and feet. All these can be termed as symptoms of anxiety and I am sure, we have in one way or another, experienced some of  them.

Anxiety is generally a feeling of extreme fear or worry. Feelings of anxiety from time to time is normal, these emotions, we only refer to them as anxiety disorders,  when they become extreme and start interfering with our everyday activities; for instance not being able to talk to people of the opposite sex because you are extremely shy.  They can cause serious disruptions to everyday life and social interactions, if they are not worked on.

We’ll discuss two common anxiety related disorder below.

One of the anxiety related disorder is

Specific Phobias — A phobia is an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Though the situation may be present, our brain processes have a way of making us feel that the situation may cause harm to us, therefore, we fear that object or situation.

While the specific source of fear can differ from person to person, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that can severely impair someone's ability to function in everyday situations. There are several types of phobia, but the common ones includes; spiders (arachnophobia), the dark (nyctophobia), heights (acrophobia/ altophobia), dogs(cynophobia), confined places(claustrophobia) etc

The other one is
Test Anxiety — As the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and other entrance examinations lurk around the corner, most students are likely to experience test anxiety. Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations.

While many people experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during exams, test anxiety can actually impair (negatively affect) learning and hurt a student’s test performance.

Physical symptoms of test anxiety include sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, and nausea. Sometimes these symptoms might feel like a case of "butterflies" in the stomach, but they can also be more serious symptoms of physical illness such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Cognitive(mental) and Behavioural Symptoms — This can involve skipping class or even dropping out of school. Outright avoidance of testing situations like pretending to be sick on the exams day etc. In other extreme situations, there are recorded cases of drug or alcohol use, misuse and abuse to cope with symptoms of anxiety (this is very bad).

Other cognitive symptoms include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and negative self-talk, feeling of hopelessness, feelings of inadequacy (as if you haven’t studied enough)

A few potential causes of test anxiety include:

• Fear of failure (Atychiphobia)
• Poor testing history in previous test situations.
• Unpreparedness for the test.
• Lack of rest.

• To be continued

CREDIT: The Well Being Project
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