Anxiety is a normal, healthy feeling that is experienced by everyone. You know that it is the body’s way of reacting to stimulus that pushes us to either “fight” or “flight” over a situation. But, when anxiety attacks are chronic, severe, or irrational, and begin to affect the health of a person, physically, psychologically or emotionally, it moves up to becoming a problem that must be addressed immediately.
There is a pretty broad distinction between what constitutes a healthy or an unhealthy anxiety attack. We have talked a bit about anxiety here before. But today, I want to spend a little time on what each of the disorders is. This is for general, broad information and not medical advice. If you think you have something going on, check with your primary care physician, Internist, psychologist, a medical professional who you trust.
There are six major types of anxiety disorder:
1. Generalized anxiety disorder. GAD is a chronic worry or fear over almost everything without knowing exactly why. These people tend to feel anxiety about their day to day activities, and are continually worried that bad things will happen. People with GAD often have issues with stomach upset, fatigue, restlessness, and insomnia.
2. Panic disorder. A panic disorder is repeated, unexpected panic attacks. And this is compounded by fears that panic episodes will occur. People with panic disorder are likely to have issues with agoraphobia. They fear being in places where help or escape will be difficult in case another panic attack comes. People with agoraphobia are also afraid of being trapped in confined places like an airplane, or in overly crowded areas like shopping malls. So you can clearly see that anxiety, like much else in life is not “one size fits all.”
3. Phobias are excessive, irrational, or exaggerated fear over simple things that usually present little or no danger to the person. Some of the more common phobias that people deal with are fear of heights, snakes, spiders, dark, and flying. People with phobias tend to avoid the things they are afraid of in order to escape getting anxious or having an anxiety attack. But unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
4. PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that occurs after a life-threatening or a traumatic event. People with PTSD show symptoms like hyper-vigilance, avoiding situations or places that remind them about the event, or having recurring nightmares and flashbacks about the things that happened. These events can be triggered startling easily, and often in isolation.
6. Social anxiety disorder or social phobia. This is the fear of being seen negatively by others or fear of getting humiliated in public by other people. Social anxiety is often mistaken as an ordinary extreme shyness. People with this kind of disorder usually isolate themselves from others or from event and places where crowds usually gather. Stage fright is the most common type of social anxiety.
7. OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a condition where a person has unwanted behaviors or thoughts which appear to be impossible to control. People with OCD can have certain obsession such as worries that they might hurt someone or that they have forgotten to turn the lights off. They can also have uncontrollable compulsion. The most common is washing of hands repeatedly.
Everyone has one or more forms of anxiety at work. Some you are able to easily control, while others seemingly control you. The best first step in trying to get things under control is to spend some quality time with yourself in sorting things out. Below are a few basic questions to help you get started.
• Are you always worried, tense, and on the edge?
• Do you feel like you are in danger whenever you are in confined places?
• Are you afraid of mingling with strangers, meeting new friends or even meeting relatives?
• Do you feel that something bad or catastrophic will happen if certain things are not done according to plan?
• Do you experience worry, fear and anxiety levels that affect your relationships, work, health, and/ or other responsibilities?
• Do you feel irrational fear that you cannot define, and cannot shake?
• Does your anxiety force you to avoid everyday situations and activities?
Me? I hate spiders, although I can usually deal with them in a pinch. I also have a “key-thing” when I am traveling which borders on OCD.
Once you can begin to pinpoint your specific issue, you can start to find specific ways and avenues address it and deal with it. When you better understand what’s going on with yourself, you can also reach out for the appropriate help.
You are not alone!