Everybody feels worried or nervous sometimes. The anxiety can be quite helpful especially if it warns us of danger or motivates us. On the other hand, an anxiety disorder causes unhelpful or unexpected anxiety that impacts our lives in a serious way including how we act, feel, and think.
What Is An anxiety Disorder?
If you have always wondered ‘what is an anxiety disorder?’ the answer is multi-layered. Anxiety disorder is actually a term for a collection of mental illnesses that include:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder refers to excessive worry about several everyday problems for a period exceeding 6 months. It is an anxiety usually far greater than you would expect – for instance, intense anxiety over a minor issue. Most people usually experience physical symptoms too, including sleep problems and muscle tension.
2. Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder refers to an intense fear of being evaluated negatively or even embarrassed by other people. People suffering from the disorder typically avoid social situations. It is usually more than shyness and can affect relationships, school or work performance in a great way.
Agoraphobia refers to the fear of being in a situation where the person cannot escape or find help in case of a panic attack or even other feelings of anxiety. A person suffering from agoraphobia tends to avoid leaving his or her home or public places.
4. Panic Disorder
Panic disorder refers to unexpected and repeated panic attacks. A panic attack is a feeling of intense and sudden fear lasting for short period. A panic disorder can manifest itself physically in such ways as nausea, shortness of breath, and a racing heart. A panic attack can be a part of another anxiety disorder or simply a normal reaction to a stressful situation. Panic attacks seem to happen for no reason in those with panic disorders. Those that experience panic disorders usually fear additional panic attacks and worry that something bad can happen because of the panic attack. Some with panic disorders then change their routines to ensure that they never trigger additional panic attacks.
Phobia refers to an intense fear around a specific thing such as a situation, animal, or object. Most people are usually scared of something e.g. spiders but the feelings hardly ever disrupt their lives. However, those with phobias make adjustments to how they live to avoid the feared situation or object.
Other Mental Illnesses
Some mental illnesses were previously classified under anxiety disorders but this is no longer the case even though fear or anxiety is still a major part of the illness. They include:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD usually occurs after a very traumatic or scary event, such as an accident, abuse, or a natural disaster. Symptoms include avoiding any reminders of the traumatic event, reliving the event via flashbacks or nightmares, or feeling unsafe in the world even when no real danger exists.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is made up of unwanted urges, images, or thoughts that cause anxiety (obsessions) or repeated actions intended to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). Compulsions or obsessions usually cause a great deal of distress and take a lot of time.
Who Suffers From Anxiety Disorders?
Anyone at any age can suffer from an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety disorders are the commonest mental health problem. Sometimes the trigger of the anxiety disorders are stressful life experiences or specific events. Anxiety disorders most commonly occur when a person has a particular perspective of things (such as believing in perfection) or learning unhelpful coping strategies from other people. However, sometimes a reason is not too apparent. If your not clear on your anxiety condition it can be helpful to seek professional help so that managing it is easier.
How Can You Deal With Anxiety Disorders?
Many people that suffer from anxiety disorders believe that the symptoms will disappear all on their own. However, this never happens and it is important to realize that anxiety disorders are actual illnesses that requires one to seek medical and professional help.
Different anxiety disorders have different treatments but some of the most common treatment strategies usually include some combination of the following strategies:
People can manage anxiety using many different skills including relaxation, problem-solving, and stress management. Mindfulness also helps, practices encouraging wellness including connecting with others, having fun, exercising, and eating well are also critical.
Support groups provide an excellent platform for sharing your experiences, learning from others, and connecting with those that understand.
Some people find antidepressant or antianxiety medication useful. Medication also helps with the physical symptoms of anxiety. It also helps make anxious thoughts less intense or frequent. Some people also take medication until their anxiety is under control enough to attempt therapies such as CBT.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of counselling for anxiety. CBT helps you learn how behaviors, feelings, and thoughts work together. CBT aims to identify and change the unhelpful thinking patterns that feed anxious thoughts. CBT helps you eliminate problem behaviors and put helpful strategies in their place. It is usually the first treatment attempted for moderate or mild anxiety problems.
This article has looked at what anxiety disorders are and what they aren’t. In addition, this article has discussed the interventions available for those suffering from anxiety disorders. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety disorders it is important to seek professional help at once.