What is your anxiety type ?
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
OK, so you think that you have an anxiety disorder. What do you do now?
Before you can begin to deal with your anxiety effectively, you will need to ensure that you have a good grasp of what you are up against. As opposed to mild anxiety that just about everyone experiences from time to time during their life, an anxiety disorder comes in various kinds.
And before we dive into the different of anxiety disorders, remember that nothing is black and white. Anxiety is complex and unique to each individual. Your anxiety may be clearly of one type, or you may be suffering from multiple types concurrently.
General Anxiety Disorder
People, who experience general anxiety disorder, or GAD, are characterized by experiencing long lasting worry and fear over many things, which can be career, money, family, or even school. Their feelings become unrealistic, which can affect their performance in their daily endeavors. The problem with people having GAD is their inability to point out the specific fear and the problem in controlling their worry.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects about three percent of the US population, and nearly half of those who suffer from GAD are women. Those who suffer from GAD commonly complain about being in a constant state of worry over things like finances, relationships, employment, and health. While this can be said about most folks from time to time, those with GAD feel anxiety regarding a specific situation far more strongly than the situation warrants.
The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are the same as common anxiety, except they are more chronic and severe.
They include excessive and ongoing worrying, headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, a feeling of being on edge, fatigue, sweating, trouble sleeping, nausea, upset stomach, and a sense of constant and impending doom.
A panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks. A panic attack is described as the sudden feeling of fear and rush to get away from something, scrambling to get to the nearest exit. It is the overwhelming feeling of anticipation that something bad is going to happen. Panic attacks arise suddenly and peak to a panic level in a matter of minutes and can last for hours.
Panic attacks typically manifest as sudden periods of intense fear that can include trembling, shaking, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, hot flashes, a difficulty drawing breath, chills, a fear of losing control, numbness, tingling, a sudden extreme fear of death, and impending doom. These feelings are much more intense than those that are often associated with more traditional expressions of anxiety. During a panic attack, these symptoms can become so severe that those suffering from panic attacks might be paralyzed during the entirety of the attack.
One of the most significant differences between an anxiety attack and a panic attack is that an anxiety attack often takes place after experiencing a stressor, while a panic attack can materialize without a clear stressor around to trigger it. If you suffer from panic attack disorder, you may find yourself avoiding certain places, people, and situations over fears they might trigger a panic attack. There is no known cause of panic disorder, but it often runs in families, though it is unclear if this is due to genetic or environmental factors.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This kind of anxiety disorder is characterized by people who avoid socializing with a group, as they fear being judged negatively or embarrassed publicly. What we are talking about here goes beyond being an introvert or someone who just doesn't like to socialize. You would love to socialize and be "out there", you just can't.
This type of fear includes people who experience stage frights, fear of displaying affection, and fear of humiliation. Individuals with a social anxiety disorder are known to experience extreme anxiety symptoms when they find themselves in situations where they are forced to interact with others in a social capacity. If they are unable to avoid a specific type of social function, they may begin to experience extreme physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and sweating.
To be diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder, a person must experiences these kinds of symptoms a majority of the time for at least six months, and the symptoms must be strong enough to impede their daily lives. If the thought of asking a stranger out or giving a presentation at work is enough to get your heart racing, then you might be suffering from social anxiety disorder.
There are approximately 15 million American adults that suffer from social anxiety disorder, and the average onset for the condition is during the teenage years.
A phobia is defined as having an irrational feeling of fear of something or a situation believing that it may cause harm. People who have a phobia try their best to avoid specific objects or situations to prevent panic attacks triggered by these irrational fears. When a fear has been triggered, the resulting anxiety can become uncontrollable.
To be diagnosed with a phobia, the excessive and persistent fear of an otherwise innocuous object or situation must last at least six months and be severe enough that avoiding the situation or object has a negative impact on your day to day life. For example, not wanting to fall off the top of a mountain is perfectly normal, but if the thought of being in a high place is enough to get your heart racing, finding yourself on the top floor of a tall building can leave you paralyzed.
Around eight to ten percent of the western world suffer from specific phobias, though only about three percent of those are in Asia and India. A phobia can come into existence in a person as a direct experience with an object or place that went horribly wrong. It could also be a result of seeing someone else experience something traumatic. These kinds of fears typically manifest between the ages of 10 and 17.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is characterized by the mere thoughts or actions that are distressing and repetitive.
People who suffer from OCD know that their compulsive reactions are irrational, but they can't stop the feeling, and so they act to satisfy their anxiety.
They try to justify the reasons behind their actions with superstitious feelings of insecurity. People who suffer from OCD usually walk in the same pattern, obsessively clean their personal items, are conscious of dust and dirt to the effect of constantly washing the objects, or the constant checking of locks, gas stoves, and light switches.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety that is usually rooted form a previous life-threatening experience. Often, it is associated with the men and women who serve in the military, or those who have been victims of assault, but it can affect anyone who has experienced a life-threatening situation. Panic attacks usually occur when these individuals are faced with a triggering factor that makes them remember a horrifying event, making them scramble to flee or fight.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
This disorder is characterized by an intense display of panic when separated from a person, place, or thing that gives them anxiety. Separation anxiety disorder symptoms are typically seen among toddlers when they are separated from their mothers or primary caregivers. As they grow, toddlers learn that their mothers or caregivers do not disappear when they leave and that they come back, and so their separation anxiety stops. That is a normal part of the human development.
Separation anxiety becomes problematic when it persists in older children, or when it appears in adults in regards to their partner or a person close to them.
How to Tell if You Suffer From an Anxiety Disorder
The extent of anxiety’s effect on an individual depends on various factors. Regardless of the severity and type of anxiety disorder, a number of symptoms are common. If you regularly exhibit any of the following symptoms, you should consult with your doctor to determine if you have an underlying anxiety disorder.
· Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
· Worrying too much, especially about everyday things
· Not getting enough sleep
· Shortness of breath
· Tense muscles
· Being too conscious of your actions and behaviors
· Compulsive behaviors
· Cold or sweaty hands
The good news is that anxiety disorders, just like any other mental health issues, can be treated.
Consulting with a doctor is the ideal first step in order to get a proper diagnosis of your condition. With a proper diagnosis, you can become clearer on the idea of what constitutes your anxiety, what triggers it, and most importantly how you can resolve the issue.