Although we all experience fear and worry from time to time, people living with an anxiety disorder know just how debilitating it can be.
Here is a brief overview of the 7 types of anxiety. Perhaps you may recognise your own symptoms:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder – People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or GAD), may feel a constant low level anxiety for no apparent reason. Their minds seem to always hone in on the negatives of any situation, and the worst possible outcome – “disaster thinking”. This can cause them to be irritable, restless, and edgy all the time. Physically, they may notice tension in their muscles, especially the back, neck and shoulders; as well as feeling drained, exhausted and lacking energy. Not surprisingly they also have trouble with concentration.
- Social Phobia – Also known as social anxiety, people with social phobia have difficulties coping with new or unfamiliar people or situations. They get anxious about the very idea of social situations – they don’t even have to be in one! The reason for this is that they feel they are constantly being watched, observed or judged by others. Not surprisingly they usually have an extreme fear of public speaking, way beyond what most people normally experience.
- Panic Disorder – Panic symptoms can arise anywhere and anytime, and be so distressing that the individual may even feel that they are having a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of a panic attack commonly include: rapid heartbeat; sweating or hot/cold flashes; tingling, numbness, or weakness in a particular part of the body; trouble breathing; light headedness or dizziness; chest pain or an upset stomach; and an “out of body feeling”.
- Agoraphobia – This type of anxiety disorder relates to a fear of open or public spaces, with sufferers experiencing nervousness in any environment other than their own home. They feel tense and anxious even during regular activities, such as going to the store, talking with strangers, or even just stepping outdoors, and may obsess over how to protect themselves, or find safety in case some type of trouble occurs, even if there is little evidence for this to occur. They may feel that they are being imprisoned by their own fears.
- Phobia – An extreme, obsessive, even irrational fear – the subject might be anything from elevators or phone calls, to spiders or germs. The individual will go out of their way to avoid the subject of the phobia, and is unable to control their terror even at the thought of the subject.
- 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 eg through nightmares or flashbacks; being always on the alert; emotional detachment etc.
- 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). This leads to the following cycle:
- 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
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.
Therapies such such as exposure therapy, or cognitive behavioural therapy, can be effective, although in some cases medication such as anti-depressants, may be prescribed.
If you are suffering from one of the 7 types of anxiety, you will already known that it can have a negative affect on your day to day life – so seeking professional help is important to discover how you can conquer your problem and achieve a much better quality of life.
Author: M1 Psychology
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