Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can seriously affect day-to-day living.It is important to know the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder that requires medical attention. Anxiety is a natural human reaction to stressful situations, but becomes a condition when it frequently occurs without a trigger.
When faced with potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival.
Ever since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger has set off alarms in the body and allowed an individual to take evasive action. These
alarms become noticeable in the form of a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings.
A rush of adrenaline in response to danger causes these reactions. This adrenaline boost is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. It prepares humans to physically confront or flee any threats to safety.
For most modern individuals, running from larger animals and imminent danger is a less pressing concern. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, family life, health, and other crucial issues that demand a person’s attention without necessarily requiring the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction.
What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?
The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation – such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others – or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people