Anxiety is a feeling we all experience from time to time. It is the body’s natural “fight or flight” internal alarm system that helps us detect danger, usually triggered by perceived or imagined danger i.e, negative thoughts, emotions or physiological bodily sensations. Anxiety can be a good thing in stressful situations such as, an exam or job interview in that, it helps you stay alert, focused and motivates you into action. Every week 1 in 6 adults experience anxiety (fundamental facts about mental health 2016).

 

Although, anxiety helps us to detect danger, it can be a problem when it is activated during normal everyday situations.

 

If anxiety is interfering with your life you may have an anxiety disorder.

Read below for common anxiety disorders:

Panic Disorder

Better known for reoccurring panic attacks that are severe often happens “out of the blue” without warning. Symptoms that accompany a panic attack are usually extremely uncomfortable; some include feeling faint, shortness of breath, numbness, pins and needles and heart palpitations. The symptoms usually last between 5-10 minutes but can come in waves throughout the day.

 

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is fear of an anticipated or actual situation such as using public transport, lifts or being in closed or opened spaces. There is a fear of not being able to escape or get help in the situation should the anxiety intensify. Agoraphobia usually develops after experiencing one or more panic attacks, causing worrisome thoughts about having another attack, therefore avoiding places where it may happen again. Individuals with this concern often feel safe at home, the further they go from home the greater the anxiety, hence they often avoid.

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Also known as OCD, manifests itself as frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images or urges that causes anxiety or disgust. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or psychological acts carried out in order to relieve the unpleasant feelings experienced by the obsessive thought. For example, someone with a fear of contamination will repeatedly wash, check and avoid contaminated objects. OCD is usually accompanied by high levels of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. OCD can be debilitating.  

 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder  

Also known as PTSD, usually occurs following a traumatic event such as a serious assault or life threatening accident. Symptoms include: flashbacks, reoccurring thoughts, memories or dreams about the event. Individuals also experience anxiety, panic attacks, avoid situations, thoughts, feelings, conversations, people or anything that reminds the person of the trauma. PTSD is also often accompanied by depression and loss of enjoyment.

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Also known as GAD, is described as excessive anxiety, worry and feeling fearful and tense about a number of events or activities. The anxiety is followed by 3 or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, blank mind, muscle tension and distorted sleep. The anxiety and worry cause distress or disturbs social, occupational and other areas of one’s life.

 

Health Anxiety

Is the preoccupation about ones health, the preoccupation with either the fear of having or the belief that one already has a serious illness. This interpretation is based on the misinterpretation of bodily sensations, for example, heart racing being misinterpreted as having a heart attack. Individuals with this concern might check for signs on their bodies of the ill health they believe they are experience. They will either avoid or visit their GP frequently to reassure themselves or research the internet to self-diagnose.

 

Social Anxiety

Is a common anxiety concern and is described as a fear of negative evaluation in all social situations or in a very specific situation such as public speaking. People experiencing social anxiety often feel self-conscious and fear that they will be judged negatively, humiliated or rejected. As a result the feared situation or situations are either avoided or endured with intense distress.

 

Phobia

Fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. The phobic situation or object triggers fear or anxiety as a result the phobic situation or object is avoided. Specifc phobia types include: Animal, blood or injection, vomiting, choking, natural environment plus many more.

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For more information on Anxiety visit www.nhs.uk.

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