Anxiety can best be described as a state of inner turmoil. Often accompanied by symptoms such as profuse sweating, heart palpitations and heavy breathing, anxiety is instigated by a stimulus that lies in the near or distant future. One example of this is anxiety associated with an impending doom. The anxiety may use past experiences to warn a person from repeating the same action in the future (PTSD). According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (2000), roughly 40 million adults suffer from anxiety in the USA. That translates to roughly 20% of the adult population. However, 37% of those who suffer from anxiety seek therapeutic help.
Not unlike other forms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety is very complex and can therefore be hard to define. That is why there are different types of anxiety, each with their own symptoms and treatment methods. Below is a list of a few of them.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD for short, experience constant anxiety. They worry about activities and events that other people find seemingly routine. The symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are sleeping difficulties, headaches and upset stomachs. 6.8 million adults suffer from GAD in America (adaa.org, 2000).
Specific Anxiety or Phobias
People who suffer from this form of anxiety have an irrational fear of certain events, situations or objects. When exposed to the stimulus, suffers exhibit severe anxious symptoms such as heavy breathing, heart palpitations, profuse sweating etc. Two examples of specific anxieties and phobias are claustrophobia and arachnophobia.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
People who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD for short, experience anxiety as a result of their obsessive thoughts. The thoughts are unwanted and intrusive and may even be trivial in nature. People who suffer from OCD perform rituals in order to relieve themselves of their anxiety, such as counting objects, washing hands, and finger tapping.
People who suffer from Selective Mutism are unable to talk in specific places or situations. Some people may be unable to talk in front of the opposite gender or at school or work.
People who suffer from this form of anxiety experience an irrational fear of certain places or situations. Being in these certain places or situations will cause the sufferer to experience an anxiety attack as a result of feeling trapped. This in turn will lead people suffering from agoraphobia to avoid going to these places or being in these situations.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
This type of anxiety disorder pertains mainly to young children who feel intense anxiety at the thought of being separated from their parents. Sufferers experience anxious symptoms similar to panic attacks. Although it is a disorder mainly experienced by children, young adults and adults can also suffer from Separation Anxiety Disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short, is experienced by individuals who been exposed to traumatic events such as; war, sexual abuse, physical abuse, car accidents, natural disasters etc. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include nightmares, flashbacks, heart palpitations etc. People who suffer from PTSD will avoid objects, locations or situations that may stimulate memories of the traumatic event.
People who suffer from Panic Disorder experience sudden bouts of severe anxiety, otherwise known as a Panic Attack, which usually subside within a couple of minutes. Panic Disorder causes people to have anxiety over having a panic attack and leads them to avoid people, objects, places and situations which may cause it. 2.7% of the American population suffer from panic disorders (adaa.org, 2000).
The symptoms of anxiety may vary slightly depending on the individual. However, the majority of anxieties have very similar symptoms. Below is a list of symptoms associated with various anxiety disorders.
There are some symptoms of anxiety that can indicate other bodily phenomenon such as Panic Attacks. Panic Attacks typically last for a few minutes and involves at least four of the following symptoms.
People suffering from Panic Attacks may believe that they are experiencing heart attacks and therefore frequently visit the emergency room.
The way in which you get diagnosed for anxiety may vary depending on the country you live in. In some areas you may have to visit a certified psychologist or a psychotherapist and in others you may be able to get diagnosed for anxiety at a local doctor’s office. There are also anxiety tests online for self-diagnosis although these cannot be used as basis for an official diagnosis.
Treatment methods will vary depending on the severity of your anxiety. If you took the CPRS Anxiety Test and scored within the range for a mild anxiety, there are a lot of things you can do on your own to overcome your anxiety. However, if you scored within the range of a moderate to high anxiety, therapy sessions and in worst case, medication may be necessary.
If you scored within the range of a mild anxiety, you may consider doing the following;
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Eat a healthy diet
If you scored within the range of a moderate to severe anxiety, or if your anxiety has become so prevalent that it is interfering with your daily life, consider visiting your local doctor of psychotherapist. In cases of severe anxiety, medication may be necessary. However, medication should not be considered the solution to your anxiety but should rather be taken in conjunction with therapy.
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Adaa.org. (2000). Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. [online] Available at: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.