Anxiety can hardly be defined by a single sentence. Psychologists and psychotherapists can give several different definitions. The main particular feature of anxiety, however, is uncertainty.

“Our emotions can be fueled by something that we are uncertain about. It can be a situation that is out of our control or unpredictability regarding the future. Anxiety can surely be caused by such circumstances as it is a condition that is full of the unknown,” says the psychologist.

The more uncertain situations or events are, the higher the probability that anxiety will develop.

Symptoms that cannot be ignored

There are some characteristic symptoms indicating that stress and fear have led to anxiety. One of them is being plagued by worrisome and intrusive thoughts.

“When overwhelmed with anxiety, the thoughts chase one another, they become excessive and uncontrollable which causes obvious discomfort,” explains Kriščiūnas.

Mykolas Kriščiūnas

The racing thoughts can be accompanied by changes in emotional disposition that may show up as an overall nervousness or similar negative manifestations. Although anxiety is an emotional condition there are many physical symptoms that can result from it. These can include breathing problems, irritability, sleep disorders, etc. Typical behavior patterns can also change.

“When feeling anxious, a person can postpone some tasks, do something in abundance, or, on the contrary, put too little effort into things. A certain combination of signs can help identify anxiety,” says Kriščiūnas.

Fear vs. anxiety. What’s the difference?

Both stress and fear can be regarded as a normal state that should not be confused with anxiety.
“Fear is normally caused by something specific – we usually know what we are afraid of, whereas anxiety is viewed as a far more abstract concern,” says the psychologist.

People often experience fear of various specific objects like heights, spiders, snakes, etc. Anxiety, by contrast, can be triggered by far more abstract things such as uncertainty about the future, questions regarding core values, etc. However, according to psychologists, this is not the only difference between the two conditions.


“Fear is usually rather intense and lasts for some short period of time, whereas anxiety can be a long-term condition. It can become chronic and persist for days or even years,” adds the psychologist.
Anxiety disorders are affecting quite a huge number of people in Lithuania. It is particularly common among the young generation: one out of 10 individuals calling Jaunimo linija experience anxiety-related concerns that can be either a main struggle or one of the problems that a person faces.

Anxiety caused by geopolitical tension and ways to cope with it

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine that Russia launched more than two years ago is an event after which almost everyone, at least at a certain point, felt overwhelmed with fear. Prolonged uncertainty about the future eventually can lead to anxiety and some of its symptoms may emerge.

“It’s very useful to ask oneself whether the fear that overwhelms is caused by a specific thing, namely, the war, or whether it arises out of uncertainty about the future, not knowing what life holds in store for us. In other words, we can always ask ourselves if our fear stems from not knowing whether the war might come to Lithuania or from awareness about the war that’s going on not far from our country,” explains the psychologist.

The answers to these questions may help us understand the feelings that we feel and the emotional condition we are in. One more important thing that is widely talked about and emphasized by Kriščiūnas is readiness. Firstly, a person should be aware of the level of their readiness. Secondly, one should think about the degree to which the situation is controllable.

“No one is able to do some trick and eliminate the probability of war. However, every one of us can get prepared for the disaster. We all can work out a certain plan and think of what we would do in a calamitous situation. It’s even possible to pack a backpack. By getting prepared we expand the options that would be available if something happened,” says Kriščiūnas.

War in Ukraine

As lack of control strongly contributes to the feeling of anxiety, being prepared and knowing to what degree a certain situation is controllable, may help.

One more important thing, that Ukrainians have taught us, according to Kriščiūnas, is the ability to live a normal life.

“In the meantime, we are not at war, and, according to information provided by numerous sources, the war will not start tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Therefore, we should at least try our best to live a normal life, even realizing that the threat exists. Sticking up to the routine may highly minimize the fear and anxiety,” says the psychologist.

The ways anxiety can be beneficial

Although anxiety is usually described as a negative emotional condition, in certain cases, it can be viewed as beneficial.

“When it comes to emotions, whether positive or negative, I strongly suggest accepting them as signals. It doesn’t mean that we should enjoy them. It’s only natural to feel unhappy when living through such emotions as fear, anxiety, or sadness. However, we should learn to accept them as a message signaling that something wrong is going on,” explains Kriščiūnas.

If we accepted anxiety as a signal, we could take appropriate actions, make certain decisions, and identify what is going wrong within us.

Karas Ukrainoje

What shows that the anxiety is developing into a serious disorder?

In order to recognize when anxiety has become a significant problem, it is important to assess a few key factors. Firstly, it's crucial to understand how much anxiety is affecting one's daily life. To do this, one should ask themselves a few important questions: Has your anxiety become a long-term condition? Is it consistently triggered by the same events or situations? Is the intensity of your anxiety increasing over time? Do you avoid certain decisions only because you're feeling anxious? Does your anxiety have an impact on your regular behavior?

The more the anxiety interferes with a person’s daily life, the greater the probability that it has grown into a serious disorder. If this is the case, a person should regard their condition as serious and apply for help.

A self-help guide for anxiety

Although excessive and ongoing anxiety should be viewed as a reason to seek professional help, there are some steps that a person could try to help oneself.

“Anxiety is often related to our physiology. Some of the most common effects of anxiety on our body are faster breathing, thumping or irregular heartbeat, burning or itching of the skin, etc. These symptoms cannot be ignored. Physical activity and breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety,” says the psychologist.

Mykolas Kriščiūnas

Many psychologists and psychotherapists recommend managing anxiety through a practice known as grounding or "earthing." This involves taking a moment to focus on your senses and ask yourself what you can see, smell, or touch in the present moment. Since anxiety often arises from feelings of uncertainty, tuning into your senses can help add clarity to the situation.

One more important element that plays a huge role when managing anxiety is the social aspect of life. Open and exhaustive conversations with friends and family about the feelings that bother you can often bring relief.

“It is important to focus on self-reflection and to experiment. As far as I can tell from my experience, some people find relief in reading, while others opt for writing down their thoughts, listening to music, watching movies, etc. These activities have something in common with self-reflection. However, if anxiety is too intense, it is important to pay attention to one’s physiology and try to talk about the things that make one anxious,” says Kriščiūnas.

In case self-help strategies fail, professional help should be sought promptly. Anxiety-related issues can be addressed through various psychotherapy approaches. Sometimes, however, the medication can be prescribed.

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