The word anxiety has such a wide meaning and spans such an array of conditions in today’s society, that I thought it may be helpful to break it down into the various types. This can make it easier to pinpoint where your anxiety lies and therefore make issues easier to deal with.
- Panic Disorder
Panic Disorder is probably the disorder that most people think of when they hear the term ‘Anxiety Disorder’. This is where you suffer from recurring panic attacks, that can come on for no apparent reason.
A panic attack can involve an overwhelming sense of anxiety or fear, and can be accompanied by any of the following;
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
I have suffered with panic attacks in the past, and believe me they are bloody horrible things. Sometimes the shortness of breath and increased/irregular heartbeat can be enough to make you think you are going to die – no exaggeration.
2. Generalised Anxiety Disorder
GAD is a long term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.
Sufferers tend to feel anxious on most days, and other symptoms can include;
- Feeling restless, on edge and worried
- Moments where heart rate is increased or irregular
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawal from (social) situations to avoid feelings of worry/dread
I suffer from GAD and find that I suffer with more of the psychological symptoms than the physical things; I worry about upcoming events for hours, become withdrawn and quiet and worry about the things that could go wrong.
3. Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is an anxiety that arises in social situations. The anxiety here can be intense, and affects everyday activities including both social and working lives.
Social anxiety can be induced social situations including meeting strangers, starting conversations and speaking on the phone. You may have social anxiety if you;
- Worry excessively about social activities such as parties or work events
- Always worry you will embarrass yourself through saying the ‘wrong thing’ or appearing incompetent
- Find it difficult to do something when being watched for fear of being judged
- Fear criticism or have low self-esteem
I also suffer with social anxiety and all of the above symptoms. This can make getting out of the house quite difficult at times, especially for large social events.
4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is a disorder that involves unwelcome thoughts repeatedly entering the mind that can trigger distressing feelings. This leads the sufferer to attempt to get rid of the obsessive thought to decrease their distress.
Individuals suffering with OCD may have illogical thoughts; that something bad may happen if they do not do something in particular. There are different types of OCD, where compulsions involve the following;
- Repeatedly checking
- Worry surrounding contamination
- Intrusive thoughts
I suffer with intrusive thoughts and have been diagnose as having OCD tendencies. Thoughts can be extremely distressing and are always unwanted, but for some reason they are all you can think about.
5. Health Anxiety
Health Anxiety is a disorder than can come under the term OCD, but I think it deserves it’s own category here. Those affected have an obsessional preoccupation with the idea that are ill/will be ill soon.
Individuals may find harmless physical symptoms to be indicators of a serious disease/medical condition. This can link back to Panic Disorder, for example, if a person experiencing health anxiety feels that their chest is getting tight, they may believe that they are having a heart attack. Sufferers frequently misinterpret physical symptoms of anxiety as a sign of an impending physical health problem.
6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by distressing or frightening events. This can cover such a wide range of events that there is no point listing them here; if you have suffered a traumatic event you will know what I am talking about.
Someone with PTSD may experience the following;
- Reliving the event through nightmares and flashbacks
- Feelings of isolation
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty sleeping
Whilst I do not suffer with PTSD, I know that when coupled with other anxiety disorders it can make getting through life very difficult at times, especially if, for example you are suffering panic attacks or social anxiety.
I hope that this post has provided some clarity as to what terms fall under the umbrella of anxiety. If you suffer with more than one of these types of anxiety than I understand the effect that this can have on daily life, and if you don’t suffer with anxiety I hope that this can help you understand life for those who do.