What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural response to a stressful or dangerous situation. The body reacts to a situation with a racing heart, sweaty palms and shortness of breath. For those with an anxiety disorder, this reaction is more intense, occurs frequently and can last hours, even days.
Individuals with anxiety disorders tend to avoid anxiety-provoking situations, and often have difficulty with relationships, school and work performance, social activities and recreation.
What are the different types of anxiety disorders?
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – is characterized by excessive worry about different life situations and events. Those with GAD often expect and fixate on worst-case scenarios.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – can generate unwanted, involuntary thoughts and specific, repetitive behaviors that interfere with daily life.
- Panic Disorder – comes with panic attacks, described as the sudden onset of terror and lack of control. Physical symptoms include shortness of breath and increased heart rate, which often leads to mistaking the panic attack for a heart attack.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – often arises after traumatic events, such as experiencing a death, injury or abuse.
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder) – is characterized by enormous anxiety in social situations. Those with social anxiety feel embarrassed and self-conscious in social interactions — some avoid social interactions altogether to avoid these uncomfortable feelings.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety, like the fight, flight, fawn or freeze response, is for survival. It allows people to protect themselves to avoid harm. Sometimes, a person has high levels of anxiety regularly. They may feel helpless in dealing with their symptoms.
Both biology and environment determine if a person will have anxiety. In other words, anxious behavior can be inherited, learned, or both. Anxiety can also develop due to unresolved trauma. Unresolved trauma may leave a person in a heightened state of physiological arousal.
Who Should Go to Anxiety Therapy?
If you are struggling with regular anxiety that is affecting your day-to-day life or you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek anxiety therapy. A professional can help you better understand your anxiety, offer diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan that helps you better manage your day-to-day anxiety or your anxiety disorder.
Remember throughout the therapy process: Recovery doesn’t always follow a linear path to healing. More often, people will experience their recovery as cyclical. This is a “two steps forward, one step back” motion. You might feel better, then somewhat worse, then better, and so on. Have faith in and throughout the process, and stay on your path toward healing.
What are the common symptoms for Anxiety?
Anxiety is characterized by feelings of uneasiness and heightened worry. It can niggle at the edges of your mind, sometimes flooding in to overwhelm your senses with intense dread, fear or panic. Whenever you’re being threatened – or feeling pressured or vulnerable – anxiety is a completely normal response to stress.
Common symptoms may include:
- Physical symptoms like Muscle tension, Easily startled, Restlessness, Irritability, Elevated breathing and heart rate, Hot flushes and/or cold chills, Trembling, Feeling dizzy or faint, Sleep difficulties, excessive sweating, Chest and abdominal pains.
- Frequent feelings of tension and uneasiness
- Feeling overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings
- Worrying about feeling anxious (rumination)
- Catastrophizing about ‘what if’s’
- Issues with memory and concentration
- Dread and unease
- Unwanted, intrusive thoughts and images
- Fear of losing control, passing out or dying
Is generalized anxiety disorder the same as general anxiety?
No. Generalized anxiety disorder, also known as GAD, is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with this disorder experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
Anxiety, or general anxiety, is a normal reaction to stressful and uncertain situations. It’s your body telling you to stay alert and protect yourself.