Types of Anxiety
If you have an anxiety problem, chances are you are baffled by the many types of anxiety disorders that exist. Although there are six major types of anxiety disorders, people who suffer from anxiety usually experience a combination of two or more types of disorder.
This is because all anxiety disorders share the same root cause and therefore more than one is likely to occur at the same time in one individual.
Furthermore, symptoms such as extreme fear, heart palpitations, nausea, and sleep problems are common among the six types of anxiety disorders. Despite this, each anxiety disorder has specific symptoms that differentiate it from the others. Anxiety disorders also commonly occur together with depression and substance abuse.
The six major types of anxiety disorders are…..
Are you always worrying about everything and nothing in particular? Do you spend lots of time expecting the worst to happen to you? Although it’s normal to worry about bills, work or relationships from time to time, people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD, face persistent and overwhelming anxiety that may last for more than six months.
This type of fear is constant and not related to any particular identifiable stress factor or situation. It’s just not about falling behind with the mortgage payments or impending layoffs at work. Persons with GAD always anticipate disaster in their relationship, family, or health. Such people fear the worst on a daily basis even when there is no reason to do so. GAD affects both adults and children and makes it difficult to sleep, concentrate, or work. People with GAD are usually irritable, restless, and constantly fatigued.
Individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder suffer from obsessive behaviour in the form of intrusive and recurrent thoughts, images or urges that lead to anxiety and distress. To relieve the stress and block intrusive thoughts, OCD forces you to act out certain rituals repeatedly to a point where it causes undue stress and complications in your life. These acts are known as compulsions or rituals and may include repeated hand washing, counting, checking locks, or an excessive need for symmetry. Movies such as Aviator have popularised OCD and its extreme effects.
OCD sufferers perform compulsive rituals in the hope that they will make the intrusive thoughts go away. Unfortunately, such repetitive acts only provide temporary relief, and failure to do them only increases anxiety. What’s more, compulsive behaviour requires effort, time and dedication which compounds the anxiety. OCD should however not be confused with the pursuit of perfectionism, which is normal behaviour and not a sign of mental illness. With the right treatment and therapy, OCD can be effectively managed.
People who witness a traumatic event such as a terrorist attack, war, or the sudden death of a loved one or a tragic accident, may have recurring nightmares and flashbacks. Usually, such people recover with time and lead healthy lives. However, some people who experience extreme trauma or violent physical attacks such as rape victims, soldiers, or abused children may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a severe and debilitating mental illness. This type of anxiety disorder can persist for months or even years and commonly occurs together with depression and substance abuse. PTSD is a leading cause of disability and requires close monitoring, treatment, and support for adequate recovery.
Everyone gets nervous when facing a crowd especially one packed with strangers. We are all self-conscious when speaking in public, at an interview or a date. However, social anxiety disorder is an extreme form of self-consciousness that can ruin social relationships. It is also known as social phobia and is characterised by extreme discomfort and excessive self-awareness in everyday social situations.
People with social anxiety have an irrational fear of being judged, criticised, evaluated negatively or seen to be boring, stupid or awkward. Social anxiety can lead to extreme fear of speaking in public or eating in front of others. Social stress can also cause physical symptoms such as nausea, rapid heart rate or sweating. Although they realise that their fear is excessive, people with social anxiety are unable to control it.
A panic attack is a sudden, acute and frightening onset of severe anxiety and fear. Panic attacks are different from the typical surge of extreme fear that we experience when confronted by a dangerous situation or animal. Panic attacks appear without warning and with no apparent cause. The attack will peak within minutes and does not require any particular obvious trigger. People having a panic attack have an excessive and uncontrollable fear of dying or collapsing during the attack. The person will usually have physical symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, and sweating.
Most panic attacks will last for ten to twenty minutes but may continue for up to an hour in severe cases. Once the panic attack subsidies, there will remain a persistent fear of another attack, which may last for weeks. That fear can complicate your lifestyle and cause an extreme sense of foreboding. If you have had a few panic attacks before and live in fear of getting another one, then you have a panic disorder. Panic attacks can be frightening but are manageable with appropriate treatment.
Fear is a natural response to danger and a necessary survival instinct. However, excessive fear or phobia can be problematic. It is one of the most common types of anxiety disorder. It involves an irrational and extreme fear about an object, situation, insect, animal, or place. Most of us have a fear of spiders, heights, blood or painful dental procedures. However, a phobia disorder takes this fear to a whole new level. Phobias can paralyse your life and make you unable to work, travel, or interact with others.
Unlike other anxiety disorders, phobias tend to focus on a specific cause such as an animal, medical procedure or public transportation. Although irrational, phobias are uncontrollable and can be disabling if not treated. Aside from the emotional response, phobias can also cause dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and nausea. People with phobias will avoid the object of their fear even when they pose no immediate danger to them. When avoidance is not possible, they are forced to endure the object or situation with extreme anxiety.
There are currently no lab tests that can confirm anxiety disorders. Each of the different types of anxiety disorders are based on a combination of psychological and physical symptoms, and family history. Moreover, medical conditions or substance abuse can also be a contributing factor to your anxiety disorder.