Types of anxiety disorder

Health Watch

Anxiety
Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation or first date.
Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that cause people to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy for no apparent reason.
Left untreated, these disorders can dramatically reduce productivity and significantly diminish an individual’s quality of life.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses.

Causes
Stress is a normal, proportional reaction to a stressful situation or external pressures.
It’s normal to feel stressed about a final exam or job interview. Anxiety in anxiety disorders is characterised by feelings of apprehension or unexplained thoughts of impending doom.
While most individuals will experience some form of anxiety in their lives, new research shows that anxiety disorders run in families and that they have a biological basis, much like allergies or diabetes and other disorders.
Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.
For people who experience trauma, anxiety is a way that the brain and body has reacted to the traumatic experience – sometimes as a protective measure.
When we’re feeling attacked, it makes sense to be on guard and not trust others in the circumstances.
For people who have been through trauma, those thoughts and protective behaviours continue even when danger is gone.
Finding ways to feel safe re-teach your body and mind to re-adjust to feelings of safety and working through bad experiences can help.

Types of anxiety disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder: Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months; almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it.
It is accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Repeated, disturbing and unwanted thoughts or rituals that seem impossible to control.
Panic disorder: Characterised by panic attacks, sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly and without warning.
Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality and fear of dying.
Phobia: Extreme, disabling and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as war, rape, child abuse, natural disasters, or being taken hostage.
Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression and feeling angry, irritable and distracted are common.
Social anxiety disorder: Fear of social situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or scrutiny by others.
The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating, often times leading to avoidance of social situations and severe distress when participation in social situations can’t be avoided.

  • Next week’s edition: Anxiety continued

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