Anxiety is the mind and body's reaction to stressful situations. It's the sense of uneasiness or dread you feel before a significant event. A small amount of anxiety or “stage fright” helps us to stay alert and perform well. However, excessive anxiety can be overwhelming and impact our ability to function.
Anxiety is characterized by the following symptoms:
● Feeling nervous or restless
● Feeling panic or a sense of impending danger
● Increased heart rate
● Tightness in the chest area
● Rapid breathing
● Sweating and/or trembling
● Sleep issues
Although there are many similarities in how anxiety manifests, it is a unique experience to each person. Anxiety is a very common issue affecting over 40 million adults in the U.S. every year (18% of the population), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Listed below are the various types of anxiety disorders:
Social Anxiety Disorder: This is an intense fear of becoming embarrassed or rejected in social situations, which often leads to avoiding them all together.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: One experiences an uncontrollable amount of worry over events and their potential negative outcomes. This anxiety interferes with multiple areas of life: work, school, and relationships.
Panic Disorder: Sudden panic symptoms include sweating, shaking, difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and feeling out of control. A panic attack may last from a few minutes to up to an hour. This experience creates an ongoing fear of future panic attacks.
Obsessive-Compulsive and related Disorder: Repeated and persistent thoughts ("obsessions”) cause distress, which leads an individual to repeatedly perform specific actions ("compulsions") to alleviate the distress.
Examples of common obsessions include: fear of failing to do things in a particular way will cause harm to oneself or others, extreme anxiety about getting dirty or contaminated by germs, or obsessions around exactness or symmetry.
Examples of common compulsions include: checking (e.g., that the door is locked or for an error), counting or ordering (e.g., money or household items), and performing a mental task (e.g., praying). Other compulsive disorders include excoriation (skin-picking), hoarding, body dysmorphic disorder, and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).
Specific Phobia: Anxiety is triggered by an extreme fear of a specific object or situation, such as flying, heights, seeing blood, etc. The presence or anticipation of this object or situation leads to an immediate fear response or panic attack. The fear is disproportionate to the actual danger posed by the object or situation.
Regardless of which type of anxiety you may have, there are many solutions you can use to help relieve it. Therapy helps individuals to understand their anxiety better, view it through a more neutral perspective, and implement stress-management techniques.