Anxiety disorder results when a person’s reaction to unpleasant situations becomes disproportional compared to the expected norm or that generally considered as normal. Common conditions that trigger anxious moments, stress, anxiety and worry in people generally include small challenges in life like exams, interviews, public speaking, the first date, during marriage proposals, etc. These conditions can lead to anxiety disorder if they prevail, though the level of anxiety experienced during these situations is short-lived, minimal and is considered normal.
Anxiety disorder sets in when the uncontrollable worry, fear and consternation takes over a person’s daily routine or sleeping pattern, that it has to be considered abnormal and severe. Some common types of anxieties are discussed below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
According to the New England Journal Of Medicine 2004, during a formal visit, a 59-year old woman describes herself as a lifetime “worrier” and has an established history depression, culminating in sleeping disorder, burnout and muscle tension.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder stemming from the unrealistic fear of non-specific factors like work, family, career, school, money or relationships that is unrealistic and disproportional with normal fear. In this condition, the person finds it difficult to conclude what his cause of anxiety is. This can affect the person’s day to day activities, work, social life and relationships.
Panic disorder is caused by prolonged stress, unpleasant or frightening experiences or it can even be spontaneous. Panic attack causes chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, headaches and shaking. People suffering from this disorder tend to prevent situations that have caused them to panic previously and even react abnormally to prevent these situations.
Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that predisposes a person to extreme and irrational fear of an object, situation, living thing or place. It is the unnecessary fear of any specific object or situation that can cause a panic attack in a person. Phobia can be described as caused when a person is fearful about his response to a certain situation and tries to avoid it.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD):
Social anxiety disorder sometimes also called social phobia is the most common anxiety disorder. It has an early onset by age 11 years in about 50% and 80% by age 20. The major features that differentiate it from other forms of anxiety disorder are the fact that it is chronic, pernicious and prevalent. Social anxiety disorder happens when a person is scared of interacting socially due to fear of judgement or irrational behaviour. The situation can get severe when a person totally isolates himself from others due to anxiety.
Sufferers of this condition are unusually anxious and self-conscious which hampers their social interactions. Excessive protection and overprotection have been linked as a risk factor.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the fourth most common psychiatric illness with a lifetime prevalence of 1-3%. The main traits of this type of anxiety disorder are compulsions, obsessions or both. This happens when a person exhibits unnecessary compulsive behaviour that frequently appears to be superstitious. Obsessive cleaning of personal items, hands, checking switches or the stove repeatedly or more than necessary is some of the symptoms of OCD.
This impairing psychiatric disorder can manifest with intrusive and undesirable thoughts, urges, images that lead to profound distress, anxiety, repetitive thoughts and actions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
The hallmark of this type of anxiety disorder following a traumatic event is its capacity to engender fear, horror, hysteria or helplessness in response to the threat of injury or mortality. Post-traumatic stress disorder may be exhibited by people who have experienced fantastic loss or has gone through any trauma previously, like an accident, rape etc. Frequently it leads to flashbacks or behavioural changes in a person. Anxiety can be harmful if severe and requires expert treatment at the earliest.
Being part of the spectrum of anxiety disorders, PTSD patients can also suffer from major depression, panic attacks, substance abuse and generalized anxiety disorders compared to persons who have not been exposed to traumatic events.
Final Notes: If you suffer from any of these conditions, please seek medical attention.