Anxiety is part of a normal human experience. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test or making an important decision. However, for a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with our day to day lives.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common disorders. There are several different types of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety
General anxiety disorder (GAD)
A person feels anxious on most days, worrying a lot and face several anxiety-related symptoms.
The symptoms includes:
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on the edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling the worry
- Sleep problems
This condition appears to affect more women than men. It can occur at any time in life and is common in all age groups, including children and older people.
Children with GAD typically exhibit behavior such as: being over-conforming, being a perfectionist, being unsure of oneself, needing to re-do tasks, and seeking regular and frequent approach form those around them.
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, difficulty breathing, smothering, choking, and feeling of impending doom.
People experiencing a panic attack may also experience derealization: a sense that you or the world around you is not real.
Panic disorder symptoms include:
- Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
- Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
- Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
- Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
Social Anxiety Disorder
This is a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected or fearful of offending others. It can be a general phobia but it can also be specific for example a certain situation or a specific fear (such as being assertive at work or with their friends).
Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:
- Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
- Feeling very self-conscious in front on other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, rejected or fearful of offending others
- Being afraid that other people will judge them
- Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
- Staying away from place where there are other people
- Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
- Blushing, sweating or trembling around other people
- Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around
People with social phobia try to avoid situations where they fear acting in a way that is humiliating or embarrassing. If avoidance is not possible, they endure the situation but can become extremely anxious and distressed. This can have a serious negative effect on their personal relationships, professional lives and ability to go about their daily routine.
Fear can be a rational response to situations that pose a threat to our safety. Some people react to objects, activities or situations by imagining or irrationally exaggerating the danger. They are often well aware that their fears are exaggerated or irrational but their reaction is automatic or uncontrollable. This is often associated with panic attacks, during which a person can experience overwhelming physical sensations such as pounding heart, choking, nausea, faintness and chest pains.
Specific phobias could be related to animals, natural environmental factors (such as thunder or heights), situations (such as elevators, bridges or driving) or other (such as choking, bleeding or vomiting).
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anxious thoughts can influence our behavior. If the thought becomes obsessive, it can influence unhealthy patterns of behaviors that impair daily functioning. A person with OCD has obsessions or compulsions (acts performed to alleviate the distress or neutralize the thought) that are often present.
Issues that commonly concern people with OCD include:
- Cleanliness / order: obsessive hand washing or household cleaning to reduce an exaggerated fear of contamination; obsession with order or symmetry
- Counting / hoarding
- Safety/ checking: obsessive fears about harm occurring to themselves or others which can result in compulsive behaviors
- Sexual issues: having irrational sense of disgust concerning sexual activity
- Religious/ moral issues: feeling a compulsion to pray to an extent that it interferes with their work or relationships
People with OCD may also experience other mental health issues including depression or substance abuse. They often feel intense shame about their compulsions, and this can lead to secrecy. This can cause a delay in diagnosis and treatment, leading to social disability.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A person can develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event such as a serious accident, an assault, war or torture, or natural disasters. Consequently, the person can experience overwhelming feelings of fear, helplessness of horror.
They often experience feelings of panic of fear, similar to what they felt during the traumatic event.
These are the signs and symptoms of PTSD:
- Reliving the traumatic event: through unwanted and recurring memories. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions
- Being overly alert or wound up
- Avoiding reminders of the event
- Feeling emotionally numb
They may also experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse if the PTSD has persisted for a long time.
Effective treatment will help you manage your anxiety so it does not control your life. Using an integrated approach to mental health care, our team of experienced practitioners will tailor a treatment plan that matches each individual patient’s needs.
Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills. It can help you stay well by identifying the root cause of your anxiety and help you to reprocess this. There are several types of effective psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.
Medication: Antidepressants can help people manage anxiety, even if they are not experiencing symptoms of depression. Antidepressants are designed to correct the imbalance of chemical messages in the brain. Benzodiazepines can be prescribed in the short term to help people cope with anxiety conditions.
Group Therapy: Support groups can give you an opportunity to connect with others experiencing anxiety, share experience and find new ways to deal with challenges. Check out our calendar to find out when our next Group Therapy for Anxiety starts.
Art Therapy: Art therapy can be valuable in navigating anxiety. It makes the hidden visible, and provides a safe platform to explore any challenging feelings. You do not need to have any art skills, as a trained artist our Art Psychotherapist will help you explore your visual image.
Hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): Hypnotherapy can help a person perceive some things different. Using self-relaxation techniques and positive visualization, it can help ‘install’ positive behavior. EFT is a form of emotional acupuncture and can help release any stored emotions that is contributing to your anxiety.
Source: Beyond Blue