What does your anxiety look like?
Does it look like out-of-the-blue trembling fits? Or do you find yourself feeling breathless in a room filled with strangers? Or maybe you feel a distracting buzzing in your head over something that needs to be fixed? Racing thoughts? Sleepless nights? Pit in your stomach? Just like people, anxiety can have many different faces. So before getting diagnosed, it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for.
Here’s a crash course of the 5 major types of anxiety.
But First, How to Tell if You’re at Risk
Many factors can increase someone’s likeliness to have anxiety. For example, maybe you have a shy or isolated personality, a family history of mental illness, overused drugs and alcohol, or experienced a traumatic event at some point in your life. Women are also more prone to anxiety than men, which is caused by factors like societal expectations, different hormone cycles, likeliness to seek treatment, and more.
Sometimes, anxiety can is also an early indicator of other illnesses in the body. For example, if you struggle with heart problems, diabetes, respiratory disorders, or chronic pain, these can create anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
As the name suggests, GAD involves feeling chronic anxiety or exaggerated worry and tension, even without an apparent or realistic reason to worry. It affects 3% of the population and can include physical anxiety symptoms including racing heart, muscle tension or stomach aches. Constant worry, restlessness, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating and even irritability may also be symptoms.
If you’ve been experiencing over 6 months of out-of-control anxiety that affects your daily life, now could be time to seek treatment.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a widely misunderstood disorder. Its symptoms include recurrent, unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) coupled with uncontrollable behaviors (compulsions). These compulsions provide you temporary anxiety relief. Some of the most common compulsions we’ve seen are hand washing, counting, double and triple-checking things like lights and doors, excessive cleaning and washing, and constantly rearranging things.
Symptoms may include high need for perfectionism, forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or impulses, concern about right/wrong, intense religious scrupulosity, fear of harming self or others, an overwhelming desire to keep everything in perfect order, and fear of contamination.
Panic Disorder differs from GAD because it involves sudden attacks of overwhelming fear in response to a non-threatening event. Physically you can feel chest pain, a racing heart, shaking, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea lasting up to half an hour. Panic attacks come without warning and can be debilitating.
Individuals with Panic Disorders fear the overwhelming state of panic itself. Panic Disorders can also sidecar other mental illnesses, like depression, addiction or trauma.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD happens after exposure to a terrifying moment of intense harm or the threat of it. Many veterans get PTSD after witnessing traumatizing military combat. Others can get it from violent personal assaults, natural or human-bred disasters, and horrific accidents.
Every year, PTSD affects 3 million Americans. The condition can last months or years after the triggering event. Symptoms may include intense nightmares, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, dissociation, hypervigilance, being easily startled and increased irritability.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Also known as Social Phobia, recurring anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in casual social situations characterize this disorder. You might have one trigger, like public speaking or eating in front of others, or it might be so severe that any person-to-person interaction causes panic. The anxiety comes from a fear of being judged, embarrassed, rejected, humiliated, or offending others.
While anxiety is a part of being human, we only need it in small, necessary doses. If you feel like your anxiety is negatively impacting your quality of life, consider seeking treatment with one of our counselors today.