Everyone will experience feelings of anxiety throughout their lives. In fact, at times a certain level of anxiety is expected or even helpful. Pre-marriage jitters, focusing on a task to meet a deadline you don’t want to miss, even holding your breath when you wait to hear if you have won a competition.
These are all possible scenarios where you may feel anxiety. You may feel anxiety in stressful situations, or those where you feel threatened or uncertain. However, once the event has passed so do the anxious feelings.
When these feelings do not fade away, when they remain or become triggered for no reason it may suggest that you are experiencing an anxiety disorder. If this does occur, reaching out for assistance can offer you a way of maintaining a good quality of life.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions where the expereince of anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it inteferes with your ability to function and fulfill your daily tasks. This can become distressing and increase the feelings of anxiety, which exacerbates the initial anxiety.
Anxiety is a cognitive, emotional, and physical response to a perceived threat or fear. We will react to these situations by experiencing a flood of negative and possibly paranoid thoughts, emotions of fear and unease, and physical reactions such as an increased heart rate or dizziness.
When anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder it is usually because it hampers daily functioning and the reaction is incongruent with the cause. This is usually because a person is filled with anxiety and may perceive situations as more threatening or forboding as they actually are.
An anxiety disorder is a manageble mental health condition that can be treated and supported to return you to being able to be satisfied in your daily life and routine.
What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety Disorder?
If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder you may be given a specific name or type of disorder. This classification is used to clarify the cause or root of the anxiety that you experience. This is helpful to know as it assists with creating an intervention plan.
Here are some types of anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A Generalized anxiety disorder is when you are anxious for no apparent reason. It is difficult for you to determine what the cause of your anxiety is. This anxiety can present emotionally and physically. It will affect your daily functioning and can last for lengthy periods of time.
Panic disorder is diagnosed when a person expereinces frequent panic attacks. These panic attacks usually escalate quickly and are focused on a physical reaction such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and even heart palpitations. This is usually accompanied by feelings of intense fear and being out of control. Panic attacks usually last for a few minutes. There may be a reason for a panic attack, but they can also occur without a clear trigger when a person experiences a panic disorder.
Specific Phobias Disorder
This disorder is used when there is a specific cause to the anxiety. This cause can be an everyday object or situation such as flying, an animal, or the dark. The fear and anxiety experience when confronted by the situation or object is disproportionate to the situation. This means that the reaction does not match the situation. This is what separates a phobia or fear of something from a phobia disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is when the anxiety is caused by fear of humiliation and rejection in social situations. This often leads the person to avoid social interactions and situations which negatively impacts their quality of life.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder is usually experienced by younger children, however, it can be experienced by older individuals as well. This is when the fear of being away from a loved one becomes overwhelming. There may be fear that something bad will happen to them when they are away from you and this fear affects your ability to complete your daily tasks.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?
Anxiety disorders will need to be diagnosed by a medical professional. This will usually happen in a consultation where the medical professional will engage in an investigative exploration of your experiences, your history, any family history of anxiety related disorders, and any medication you happen to be taking.
During this investigation your medical practitioner may request you to return after a short period of time where you keep a diary describing when you experience certain anxious feelings and how this affected you.
You will also have the chance to ask your practitioner any questions you have in order to fully understand the possible diagnosis.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?
There are a variety of interventions that can be used on their own or in combination with one another. You may need to work with your medical professional to find the right intervention for you.
This combination could include the following:
Your medical practitioner may prescribe medication to assist with your experience of anxiety. These medications work to lower the physical experience of your anxiety, which often decreases the fear and feeling of being overwhelmed. This gives you a healthier physical experience and more chance to engage with your logical thoughts to help yourself feel safe and secure.
Your practitioner may suggest that you attend psychotherapy to help you process the feelings, causes, and thoughts associated with your anxiety. Usually Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are two approaches that work well when dealing with anxiety. This process will help you process the experiences you have had and teach you new coping strategies that can improve the way you manage future anxiety.
Self Management Techniques
These techniques may be taught by your medical practitioner, or your therapist, or you may research them yourself. However, these techniques are small behavioral and mental practices that you build into a routine for yourself. These could include positive affirmations, meditation, a regular sleep pattern, limited caffeine intake, healthy amounts of exercise, and eating a healthy diet. You may wish to explore the option of joining a support group to engage with other people who also experience an anxiety disorder.
Having anxiety rule your life can be draining and make you feel that you are not good enough and are not managing to cope with everyday life. This feeling does not have to last. Anxiety disorders are manageable with the right treatment plan and support.
Contact us at Insightful Psychiatry to book an appointment to start your journey to take control of your life again. We are here to support you.