Overview Of Anxiety Types
In this article, you'll learn about anxiety disorders, some of their symptoms, how they've diagnosed and the treatment options that are currently available.
We all know that modern life can be stressful. Balancing the demands of our family and work lives can often cause feelings of stress and anxiety as we try to do all that we need to. For most people anxiety about deadlines or social situations is normal.
But for people suffering from an anxiety disorder, this sense of nervousness is chronic lasting for six months or more. These feelings can be overpowering and are often out of proportion with reality.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting adults in the U.S.. In our country we spend 47 billion dollars a year taking care of patients that have anxiety. That includes pharmaceutical support, psychotherapy, medical visits and so on. It also includes the economic aspect of lost wages.
While the exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, experts believe that heredity may be involved. Environment, personal development, even your diet may play a role in whether you have an anxiety disorder.
What is anxiety? In part, it's a physiological response to a stressful situation. It's related to the so called fight-or-flight response. When faced with a dangerous situation, anxiety can be a useful tool to help us anticipate trouble spurring us into action and keeping us out of harm's way.
In dangerous or frightening situations our heart rate goes up. Blood flow to the heart and muscles increases and production of the hormone adrenaline rises. Under normal circumstances, when the danger passes, the physical responses and the heightened feelings of fear and stress that go along with them, will pass too.
But with an anxiety disorder, these feelings and physical symptoms are persistent and interfere with everyday life.
There are countless situations where anxiety is appropriate and a good thing. If you're walking down a dark street and you hear somebody walking behind, you you want to be vigilant.
When it's interfering with your day to the point that you're unable to get basic needs completed, basic job functions done, school things that you need to do completed, because all you're doing is worrying about it, then it's a problem.
There are five types of anxiety disorders. Each is usually diagnosed by its symptoms:
- generalized anxiety disorder;
- obsessive compulsive disorder;
- post-traumatic stress disorder;
- panic disorder;
- social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder.
Generalized anxiety disorder or GID
Generalized anxiety disorder or GID is one of the more common forms of anxiety disorders. GID affects nearly 7 million people in the US alone. It can begin at any age, but many people develop GID in childhood or early adolescence. Women are twice as likely as men to develop this form of anxiety.
As the name suggests, worries for people with generalized anxiety disorder tend to be general and are often related to everyday life.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a second type of anxiety disorder. In this disorder, a person persistently experiences troubling thoughts or obsessions, which lead to rituals or compulsions that are used to try to control those thoughts.
For example, someone with OCD may feel the need to perform certain acts like locking a door in a certain sequence. They may also do things repetitively.
These rituals may temporarily keep the obsessive thoughts at bay, but many people with OCD are fully aware of their habits and are troubled by them.
Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted, repetitive. An individual sees them typically as senseless, they don't seem to to jibe with who they are as a person.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
An anxiety disorder can also develop following a particularly stressful or traumatic event. This type of anxiety is called post-traumatic stress disorder. It often develops after an event in which a person has experienced the threat of physical harm or has actually been hurt.
People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may be emotionally numb or may startle more easily. They may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. Flashbacks or thoughts and memories about the event are common and tend to be persistent.
A person with the panic disorder typically experiences a rush of panic, which can involve a sudden feeling of terror along with very frightening physical responses, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating palms and dizziness.
During a panic attack, a person may feel as if they're having a heart attack.
Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is an intense fear of everyday social interactions. A person with social phobia may feel that they are being watched and judged by others. Or they may experience intense dread about an upcoming social situation, sometimes worrying over it for weeks in advance.
Much has been learned in recent years about why anxiety disorders develop and how they can best be treated. For many a combination of psychotherapy and prescription drugs can help keep these conditions under control.
As with any condition, talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. He or she can work with you to find the best treatment.
Anxiety is not a fear of a thing, it's really a fear of the way we think about a thing. It is something that can't be easily treated and something that has a great outcome if the medications work and therapy helps.