Everyone struggles with worry or anxiety at one point or another…we all know the feeling! But what happens when that feeling of anxiousness doesn’t go away and is triggered by non-threatening situations? Anxiety Disorders are one of the most common of mental health issues. Unlike normal anxiety, an anxiety disorder is long lasting, more intense, and interferes with a person’s ability to function. So, what types of anxiety disorders are there? What do they feel like, and how can you cope with them? The following information has been compiled from Mental Health First Aid Canada. (See www.mentalhealthcommission.ca).
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is when a person has a sense of nervousness and fear which is often accompanied by psychological and physiological symptoms. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is interfering with the day to day life of a person, preventing them from completing tasks or enjoy themselves. There are six types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobia disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of these disorders have the same symptoms with some variations.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is essentially when you experience constant and overwhelming anxiety and worry. The anxiety and the symptoms can be present for up to 6 months.
Social Anxiety Disorder:
Social anxiety is the excessive fear or being criticized or judged by others. People with social anxiety tend to avoid situations that involve socializing or “performing” in the fear that they will embarrass themselves. For example, someone with social anxiety may avoid asking questions in class or attending parties.
Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia:
Agoraphobia is the fear of having a panic attack or symptoms of a panic attack without having access to help or where escape is difficult.
A person who suffers from panic disorder will have reoccurring and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks vary in symptomatic response but it tends to feel like a heart attack, peak around 10 minutes and can last to up an hour. Those who have panic disorder experience severe impact to their day-to-day lives.
Specific Phobia Disorder:
A person with specific phobia disorder has a persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation. For example, spiders, heights and travelling on planes are a few of the most common phobias. These fears are unreasonable, cause high stress and people will actively avoid situations where these fears might present themselves.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has two main features:
Obsessions are intrusive and disturbing thoughts, impulses or images that suddenly appear in the mind and cause anxiety.
Compulsions are behaviours, mental acts or rituals (such as washing, checking, counting and hoarding) that are performed in order to reduce the anxiety that is triggered by the obsessions.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder occurs after a person experiences a distressing or catastrophic event. The event may involve that person directly or they may have witnessed it. Symptoms can include re-experiencing the trauma though nightmares, flashbacks and memories and avoidances of situations that bring back memories of the incident.
How to Manage Anxiety
If you are experiencing any kind of anxiety remember that you are not alone! There are many other people going through the same thing and, although at times it can be hard, it is important to know that it can be managed. Speaking from experience (I was diagnosed with GAD 4 years ago), I know how tough it can be…but you will get through it and truthfully (I know this sounds cliché), it will make you a stronger individual. Ask for help when you need it and try different types of coping methods to figure out which ones work best for you.
Also, don’t forget to check out the awesome events happening this week for Wellness Week. Take a load off with puppies, comedy, massages and much more!
Please note: If you find that your anxiety is getting worse or affecting your ability to function, please get help from qualified personnel.
Resources for Anxiety
Counselling Services at Brock University
Anxiety Disoders Association of Canada
Anxiety Research and Treatment Centre (Canada)
Canadian Mental Health Association of Canada