Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Anxiety
ANXIETY is that state of the mind in which it is uneasy about some future event; either from an apprehension of danger, or a solicitude of being relieved from suspense.
The causes of anxiety may be various; but, in general, they arise either from too long continued and forcible an impression of external objects, or a diseased state of the nerves, in which they are liable to be too powerfully affected by the usual action of such objects.
Concerning the effects of this mental disorder on the human system, we agree in opinion with the late Dr. W. Battie, that they are particularly obvious from the spasmodic strictures which seldom fail to accompany persons subject to that afflictive passion: hence palsy, asthma, and similar complaints. When the body is thus constantly influenced by on excess of sensation, it may be easily conceived that its consequences on a tormented mind, or deluded imagination, must frequently be serious and incurable.
Dr. Arbuthnot appears to confound the cause with the effect of anxiety, when he advises to allow febrile patients, troubled with anxieties, "a warmer regimen, after the cold fit is over;" while he recommends "spices as useful, because anxieties often happen by spasms, from wind." The futility of this advice is evident; for though aromatics, or carminatives, will undoubtedly afford a temporary relief from flatulency, yet the cause will not only remain, but even be more deeply rooted into the system, by this mode of treatment.
A more effectual remedy for obviating the causes of anxiety, in a healthy state of the body, is perhaps the following: When persons of a settled age are too anxious in all their expectations and undertakings, it will only be necessary to enlighten their contracted minds, by teaching them to form a proper estimate of those things which, in a moral point of view, are of little consequence to human happiness. Thus instructed, they will learn more reasonably to appreciate their own merits; and, by comparing these with the frequent failure of success in others, who have excelled them in virtuous as well as in useful deeds, they will gradually be enabled to reduce their own expectations to a proper standard.