Although we all experience fear and worry from time to time, people living with an anxiety disorder know just how debilitating it can be.
Anxiety disorders can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics and inherited mental health conditions, personality traits, traumatic events, physical health problems, or other stresses within a person’s life.
If you are experiencing problems, you may recognise your situation in this brief overview of 7 types of anxiety:
#1 – Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
The signs of GAD include:
- constant restlessness, irritation, edginess, or a feeling of being without control;
- fatigue, lethargy, or generally low energy levels (feeling drained);
- tense muscles, especially on the back, neck, and shoulders;
- trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks or activities;
- obsessing over negative and anxiety causing thoughts – “Disaster Thinking.”
#2 – Social Phobia
People suffering from social phobia commonly:
- experience feelings of hopelessness or fear when with unfamiliar people, or in unfamiliar situations;
- obsess about being watched, observed, or judged by strangers;
- suffer overwhelming anxiety in any social situation, and have difficulties coping;
- have an extreme fear of public speaking – beyond what one would consider “normal”;
- get anxious about the idea of social situations, even when not in one;
- have difficulties coping with meeting new people, or speaking out when required.
#3 – Panic Disorder
Common symptoms of panic disorder include:
- rapid heartbeat (heart palpitations or irregular/fast paced heart rhythms);
- excessive sweating or hot/cold flashes;
- tingling sensations, numbness, or weakness in the body;
- depersonalisation (like an out of body feeling);
- trouble breathing;
- light-headedness or dizziness;
- chest pain or stomach pain;
- digestive problems and/or discomfort.
#4 – Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a fear of open or public spaces, with sufferers experiencing:
- an obsessive fear of socialising with groups of people (even if known to them);
- nervousness in any environment other than their own home;
- feelings of tension and stress even during regular activities, such as going to the store, talking with strangers, or even just stepping outdoors;
- preoccupation with how to protect themselves, or find safety in case some type of trouble occurs, even if there is little evidence for this to occur;
- the sensation that their own fears are keeping them prisoner, and preventing them from going out and living life.
#5 – Phobia
The subject of the phobia might be anything from elevators or phone calls, to spiders or germs. Common phobia symptoms include:
- excessive, constant fear of a specific situation or event;
- instant feeling of terror when confronted with the subject of the phobia;
- inability to control these fears, even though the sufferer realises they’re irrational;
- going to great lengths to avoid the situation or object that causes their fear;
- experiencing restrictions to their normal routine as a result of the fear.
#6 – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
If a person experiences (or even witnesses) some form of traumatic event, they may develop post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). This causes difficulties such as:
Reliving the Trauma – The most well known symptom of PTSD is reliving the trauma. Those with PTSD often relive the trauma not only emotionally, but in some cases, they may relive the trauma mentally and physically, as though transported back to the event.
Responding to Triggers – Those with PTSD may (in some cases) have triggers that cause intense stress or fear. These triggers are often related to the event, such as loud noises when the event involved loud noises, or intense fear of having someone behind them, if they were attacked from behind. It also may be triggered by thoughts of the event.
Anxiety Over Recurrence – If you experience regular, daily anxiety over the idea of a repeat of the event, it may be PTSD.
Emotional Difficulties – Many of those with PTSD also experience issues with their emotional thinking and future. Some feel a disinterest or detachment from love; others become emotionally numb; and some become convinced they’re destined to die. Any and all of these emotional struggles may be common in those with PTSD.
#7 – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Mention obsessive compulsive disorder (or OCD) and it immediately generates thoughts of somebody washing their hands continually, or unable to leave the house without checking that the iron has been switched off, numerous times. A person with OCD will:
- find themselves “obsessed” with things (that nobody else worries about);
- try to get rid of these distressing thoughts when they occur, by performing an action (washing hands, checking the iron);
- find that the action doesn’t work, and the obsession continues to cause distress;
- become distressed at the obsessive thoughts.
It’s common to find that the worse a sufferer feels, the more they seem to obsess over these thoughts. The obsession leads to a cycle of compulsive behaviour:
- the individual experiences anxiety, often over an obsession (although not necessarily);
- they perform an action that appears to reduce that anxiety slightly;
- they turn to this action to relieve their anxiety, until it becomes a ritual;
- they then find that they absolutely have to perform this behaviour, or their anxiety becomes overwhelming;
- so they repeat the action and reinforce the behaviour.
Treatment for the 7 Types of Anxiety
There are a number of options available for a person suffering any of the 7 types of anxiety, including anti-depressants (more likely if this is coupled with depression), or in some instances tranquillisers.
Exposure therapy, with a carefully laid out care plan, can be very effective. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also a possible option, and emphasis is put on exercise and nutrition.
With any type of anxiety, distress and worry can impact every aspect of their day – so seeking professional help is worthwhile as the treatment is effective and can lead to a much better quality of life.
Author: Liz Taylor, BA (Hons).
Liz Taylor is a social worker with over ten years’ experience in helping people with personality disorders and other mental health issues. Liz’s counselling strategies are drawn from the Relapse Prevention Model, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about enabling her clients to function and feel a sense of control in their lives, and to achieve the goals and outcomes that they wish.
To make an appointment with mental health social worker and counselling professional, Liz Taylor, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.