Psychologists have created categories for each of the different types of anxiety disorders, and only by knowing what type of anxiety you’re experiencing can you hope to find relief.
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is the most common and widespread types of anxiety disorders in world. GAD affect tens of millions of people throughout the world. GAD is best described as an ongoing state of mental and/or physical tension and nervousness, either without a specific cause or without the ability to take a break from the anxiety.
In other words, if you feel yourself constantly on edge, worried, anxious, or stressed (either physically or mentally) and it’s disrupting your life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder. Remember, some anxiety is a natural part of life, and some degree of anxiety is normal to feel occasionally. But when that anxiety appears to occur for no reason or for reasons that shouldn’t be causing that degree of anxiousness, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.
The key is persistent mental or physical anxiety. If it doesn’t appear to go away, it may be general anxiety disorder.
Panic disorder is a debilitating anxiety disorder that is very different from GAD. Panic disorder is not about “panicking.” It’s not about getting very worried because you might lose your job or a lion is about to attack you in the jungle. That type of panic is normal.
Panic disorder is when you experience severe feelings of doom that cause both mental and physical symptoms that can be so intense that some people become hospitalized, worried that something is dangerously wrong with their health.
Panic disorder is characterized by two things:
Panic attacks are intense physical and mental sensations that can triggered by stress, anxiety, or by nothing at all. They often involve mental distress, but are most well-known by their physical symptoms, including:
Panic attacks may have some or all of the above physical symptoms, and may also involve unusual symptoms as well, like headaches, ear pressure, and more. All of these symptoms feel very real, which is why those that experience panic attacks often seek medical attention for their health.
Many people suffer from what’s known as “social anxiety disorder” or “social phobia” – an irrational fear of social situations. Some degree of social phobia is normal. Small degrees of shyness in public places, or discomfort while public speaking, are natural in most people, and do not imply an anxiety problem.
But when that fear disrupts your life, you may be suffering from social phobia. Social phobia is when the shyness is intense and the idea of socializing or speaking with the public, strangers, authority figures, or possibly even your friends causes you noticeable anxiety and fear.
People with social anxiety view public situations as being potentially painful and distressing, living with a constant fear of being judged, observed, remarked upon, or avoided. Those with social phobia also often have an irrational fear of doing something stupid or embarrassing. What makes this more than just shyness is when those fears cause you to avoid healthy socializing situations altogether.
Many people with social phobia display avoidance behaviors. They avoid any and all social situations as best they can so as to avoid further fear.
As a human being, there are always risks that put your life in danger. Most people are lucky enough to avoid these dangers and live a nice and safe life. But in some cases, you may experience a life trauma – either physically or emotionally – and this can cause an anxiety problem known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
As the name implies, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that comes after the traumatic event has occurred. Those living with PTSD often must get outside help, because PTSD can affect people for years after the event occurs – possibly even the rest of their life.
PTSD affects people both psychologically and physically. In most cases, the person with PTSD is the one that experienced the traumatic event, but it’s possible to get PTSD by simply witnessing an event or injury, or even simply discovering that someone close to you dealt with a traumatic event.
You may also experience severe “what if” scenarios everywhere you go, including disaster thinking or feeling helpless/hopeless in public situations. Many of those with PTSD also experience avoidance behaviors of events, things, and even people that may remind them of the event – even if there is no link between these issues and the trauma.
Those with post-traumatic stress disorder may be at a greater baseline of stress on most days. They may be short tempered or easy to anger. They may be startled/frightened easily or be unable to sleep. PTSD can be a difficult problem to live with.
No matter which of the main types of anxiety disorders you’re suffering from, the good news is that there are genuinely effective ways to help. Many people have cured their anxiety disorder altogether, and others find ways to make it easily manageable. If you or a loved one is struggling, our Delray Beach clinic provides expert care for anxiety disorder treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.