The word ‘anxiety’ reaches far beyond what many people would typically think. It’s common to feel anxious about something in life – whether it is positive or negative. But there are many types of anxiety, and many varying degrees.
Everyone has experienced some sort of anxiety in their lifetime. That’s part of being human. If you are experiencing anxiety, it helps to identify the type of anxiety so you can find the proper treatment.
Here is a general discussion of what to look for if you think you may be experiencing anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder, commonly called GAD, involves a sense of things being out of proportion. You feel things are ‘bigger’ than they are. Your worry is excessive and uncontrollable. Things that most people consider to be a part of everyday living are much more drastic and overwhelming for someone with GAD.
This type of anxiety typically comes on suddenly. The panic attack may last for minutes or hours. A panic attack may be characterized as periods of intense fear or apprehension. It may feel like a heart attack or a nervous breakdown.
There can be a feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape. If panic attacks occur on a regular basis, they are then deemed to be a symptom of a panic disorder.
When we rehash an unpleasant outcome of a particular event, that is what we call worrying. It is based upon mental thoughts and images about what might happen. This can be both real and imagined events.
Technically, a little amount of worry is common and even helpful. Worry becomes a problem when it dominates our thoughts or prevents us from living a normal life, including taking normal risks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This type of anxiety became well known as a result of the increased number of military personnel put in circumstances that cause psychological trauma. An event that puts someone in harm’s way, and/or traumatizes a person’s mental or emotional well-being, could impair the mind’s ability to cope with even normal situations.
Think of the brain as being on high-alert at all times. Typical symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, anger, depression, and sleep disorders.
Social Anxiety / Social Phobia
Socializing may be fun for most, but for someone with social anxiety or a social phobia, the thought of being with others in terrifying. A heightened sense of worry about what others will think of them results in fear and low self-esteem.
This type of anxiety is a downward spiral – isolation creates low self-esteem and doubt, and low self-esteem and doubt creates isolation, and on and on.
This is probably one of the most misunderstood part of anxiety. Depression is not something we typically see as being anxiety-related. Seen often as simply a period of time when we feel “in the dumps,” depression is in fact a time when our mind and body have suppressed feelings and emotions.
It is what happens during these times that can cause our anxiety to rise. During times of depression, we can have negative thoughts and feel fear toward things that may not have bothered us before. When these thoughts and fears start to escalate, our anxiety begins to climb.
With this type of anxiety, a person has only one focus: their health. The slightest physical symptom can manifest itself in the hypochondriac’s mind to be a major concern. A small bump on the leg can be no less than a cancerous tumor. Blurred vision is nothing short of total blindness.
This type of anxiety, left untreated, can consume a person’s life to the point of disability, even to the extent of becoming a self-fulfilled prophecy.
As you can see, there is a vast array of anxieties. If you think you or someone you know fits one or more of these categories, be sure to consult a professional counselor who can provide help in addressing the anxiety. Getting professional help is the first step to recovery.