Ever wondered why you’re feeling anxious? For me, having an understanding of the definition of anxiety and the different types there are, helped me to narrow down why I was feeling anxious all the time and what I needed to do to help myself effect change in my life.
I won’t kid you though … its not an easy process to create long-lasting change in your life, particularly since you’ve run the same programmed thoughts and behaviors since childhood. It takes consistent effort to reprogram your brain and alter your behavior (click here to read about how the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious minds work). But at least once you recognize what is causing those uneasy and fearful feelings, then you can start to put strategies in place to cope better.
Listed below are the most common types of anxiety disorders. It’s also common for people to have symptoms of more than one type. (click this link if you want to know the difference between stress, anxiety, and depression):
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This type of anxiety is quite common and silently affects more people than is realized. People with GAD worry about everyday real issues that are affecting their lives and are creating pressure for them. Things such as financial worries, family problems, illnesses, work or business worries etc.. Medically it is said that if a person feels anxious on most days for at least six months, they have GAD.
The feelings and physical symptoms GAD produce are –
- Constant edginess or feeling uneasy/restless
- Finding it difficult to concentrate and focus on a task
- Feeling muscle tension around the neck, back, jaw line
- Recurring tension headaches
- Difficulty sleeping at night and staying asleep.
As I said, a lot of people have probably felt these symptoms at one period in their life or another. Finding ways to cope with the stress and worry is the key.
There are many types of phobia’s but are broadly identified as either being fearful about particular situations or of certain objects. People coming across these trigger events often having feelings of nervousness, sweating, heart racing, and being so highly fearful and anxious that they can faint or react hysterically.
Types of phobias can be-
- Social Phobia – fear of social occasions such as parties, meeting people and mingling
- Agoraphobia – the fear of wide open spaces, such as large shopping malls
- Claustrophobia – fear of small spaces, such as being in lifts, crowded rooms
- Mysophobia – fear of germs and dirty areas, such as in public toilets and kitchens
- Acrophobia – fear of heights
- Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders
There are many more types than this, so if you feel you suffer from something like this and it is negatively affecting your life, try to isolate what it is and source out ways to change it.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
People who have this often find that constant unwanted thoughts and fears intrude into their mind causing high anxiety toward something. With this type of disorder, people obsess about having to carry out certain rituals (compulsions) in order to help them feel less anxious.
Some examples of common obsessions are –
- Fear of forgetting to turn off appliances, locking the door etc.
- Fear of being infected with germs from dirty utensils, door handles, toilets etc.
- Fear of being involved in an accident or contracting an illness
- Fear of things being messy, untidy, or out of order
Some of the common compulsions or rituals that people carry out in response to these obsessions are-
- Continuously washing hands, brushing teeth, showering, scrubbing their skin red raw to get rid of germs
- Continuously tidying up, rearranging things or obsessing that they need to be done in a certain order (not to be confused with “perfectionism”)
- Constantly checking doors or windows a certain number of times to see if they are locked or appliances turned off
- Hoarding items
Giving in to these compulsions and running their rituals helps people with OCD feel less anxious about their obsessions. It doesn’t take long, however, before the feelings return and the cycle starts all over again.
Panic attacks are an intense feeling of anxiety where people can get highly agitated, hyperventilate, and even become hysterical. They often occur in short bursts and mainly happen when the person is already under stress. Having an attack can also ironically lead to fears that another attack will happen, which can create a vicious cycle of worry.
Medically it is said that if a person has a panic attack at least four times a month, they may have a panic disorder.
Some of the signs are-
- Feelings of dread or that something bad is about to happen
- Feeling highly anxious
- Shortness of breath/hyperventilate
- Chest pains or tightness in chest
- Shaking, feeling nauseous, lightheaded, chills
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Being involved in major, emotionally traumatic events, can result in recurring bursts of high anxiety and even panic attacks long after the actual event has passed. PTSD can also be carried around daily as an persistent uneasy or fearful feeling, always being alert for signs of trouble.
Events that commonly cause PTSD are-
- Sexual assault
- Physical violence
- Emotional or verbal abuse
- Witnessing or experiencing highly disturbing events, such as watching loved ones being hurt or being involved in an accident
These events can lead to symptoms of-
- Finding it difficult to sleep
- Having regular nightmares
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Always feeling on edge and easily startled
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blocking out parts of the traumatic event
Treatment – What can you do about it?
The best advice I can give you if you are suffering from a severe form of anxiety such as PTSD or OCD, is to talk to a professional. There are many great services out there designed to specifically help those who need it. Don’t suffer alone with this … life is too short not to enjoy what time you have, so get out there and find something or someone in your local area that can help, whether it be medication or psychological counseling.
If you are on the lower end of the scale and don’t have a life debilitating anxiety disorder, but it is still affecting your everyday enjoyment of life, then you’ll find some great strategies in other articles on this site that will help you overcome them.
Please note that this article is not intended to diagnose or offer any suggestions of what treatment you may need. It is merely a broad description of common types of anxiety found in our society today. If you find that you identify with any of the symptoms above and it is causing you concern, please talk to your health practitioner straight away. There are many quality treatments available that can help you, and your health practitioner is the best person to give you guidance on what you need for you specific situation.