Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision, whether its before an exam, during a social event or sometimes for no reason. The question is, are these all the same type of anxiety, is the severity of all these ‘anxious moments’ the same. The answer is nope, they all have different symptoms, names and severities. It is our job, as a part of the worldwide community, to understand the difference between them, to be more understanding towards others.
How do you know when the signs of anxiety you experience might be significant enough to qualify for an anxiety disorder? The thing is anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. Thus, we need to differentiate between anxiety and an anxiety disorder.
I recommend you refrain from self-diagnosing, and instead make an appointment with a doctor if you genuinely feel you relate to some of these anxiety disorders listed.
There are, 11 types of anxiety disorders:
1 – Separation anxiety disorder:
This is an anxiety disorder where an individual experiences excessive anxiety due to separation from home or from people to who the individual has a strong emotional attachment to, for example: a parent, significant other or sibling.
2 – Selective mutism:
This is a childhood anxiety disorder where a child is unable to speak and communicate in specific social settings, such as school. But they are able to speak in places where they are comfortable, such as their home.
3 – Specific phobia:
An anxiety disorder where individuals are fearful of certain objects.
Being excessively fearful of certain objects such as a fear of snakes, flying, heights, and injections, animals, blood. This usually develops during childhood around age 7. Here, excessive fear refers to the idea of avoiding situations due to a fear of being encountered by these objects.
4 – Social anxiety:
This disorder creates an irrational anxiety for an individual when it comes to social interactions. They are usually overly fearful of interacting with others in social situations.
People with social anxiety disorder have a fear of situations in which they expect to feel self-conscious, embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.
Social anxiety disorder is one of the few types of anxiety disorders that is found equally in men, as in women. This currently effects an estimated 15 million people.
5 – Generalized anxiety disorder:
Being overly anxious in various places such as work or school. Generalized anxiety disorder is, as it’s name states, very general. In addition to it being so general, it is also a type of anxiety disorder that can occur at any age. GAD includes constant worry, restlessness, and sometimes trouble with memory and concentration,
6 – Panic disorder:
This refers to experiencing unexpected panic attacks and as a result constantly worrying about the occurrence of more attacks in the future.
Panic disorder is noted to be much more severe than the normal generalized anxiety disorder.
Panic disorder appears usually during the teenage years or early adulthood, it is also connected with major life transitions that many can feel to be very stressful. In more severe cases of panic disorder, panic attacks can arise and be very frightening for someone who has not fully learned how to fully identify the symptoms.
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, choking, and feeling of impending doom.
They usually avoid places where panic attacks have occurred in the past.
7 – Agoraphobia:
This is the fear of being in a public place where escape would be difficult. This is particularly prevalent when a person fears they may have a panic attack.
Individuals with this disorder experience fear using public transport, being in open spaces, being in closed spaces, standing in lines, being in a crowd, and/or being outside of the home alone. They fear these situations because escape from them might be difficult in the event and they are convinced they will have a panic attack. They avoid the situations, endure it with a lot of distress, or will only go with another person.
8 – Substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder:
Intense anxiety that results from substance withdrawal or medication use.
Substance-induced anxiety disorder is nervousness, restlessness, or panic caused by taking a drug or stopping a drug.
This refers to excessive caffeine use, nicotine use and alcohol or even street drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana.
9 – Anxiety disorder due to another medical condition:
Here the anxiety symptoms are the physiological consequence of a medical condition that a personal has experienced.
10 – Other specified anxiety disorder:
This is a category for anxiety symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for any of the above disorders.
Someone may suffer some of the symptoms of panic disorder but not all of them, thus they do not fit into the category of panic disorder. If these anxiety symptoms cause distress it is known as ‘Other Specified Anxiety Disorder.’
11 – Unspecified anxiety disorder:
This refers to the fact that a person has symptoms from two or more different types of anxiety disorders, making it hard to give it a particular label. Some of the signs of unspecified anxiety disorder may include several or all of the symptoms for other anxiety disorders.
Some of us may read through this list and relate to a couple, looking at myself, I can relate to so much of these disorders. The ‘simple, less serious ones’ that I ignored which led to a more serious panic disorder.
My message to you is, if you genuinely believe you have GAD or social anxiety or anything else, I urge you to see a doctor or therapist to learn how to control it before it goes out of control and you become in my position.
The key to all these disorders is your mindset, it is possible to reverse these, just believe you can.
Thanks for reading.