Life can make anyone anxious. Traffic, school exams and stressful decisions can make someone doubt their abilities to an extreme degree. However, these feelings of dread usually pass. A patient with anxiety may never feel at ease and may even develop worsening symptoms. The impact of these symptoms can be observed when performing daily activities, including work, school and social interactions.
Anxiety disorders fall into the categories of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and a multitude of phobia-related disorders.
Types of Disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder expresses itself through an unreasonable amount of worry every day for at least six months. These worries can include everyday life circumstances, such as work, health and social interactions. Those that suffer from this disorder may feel on edge and experience unsatisfying sleep, irritability, difficulty concentrating and uncontrollable worry.
Panic disorder is the unexpected or triggered reoccurrence of sudden periods of overwhelming fear that peaks within minutes. The sufferer may experience feelings of doom, heart palpitations, smothering sensations and a feeling of being out of control. These attacks are so distressing many self-isolate to save themselves the embarrassment of someone witnessing them. Some may develop agoraphobia as a result.
Phobias are the avoidance of certain objects or situations. These may be common fears, such as snakes, or flying. The fear generally outweighs the degree of danger truly presented. Sufferers may develop irrational behaviors to cope with the overwhelming anxiety.
Sufferers of social phobia have an intense fear of social or performance situations. They excessively worry that others will negatively evaluate them to great embarrassment based on their actions and behaviors.
Agoraphobia is the intense fear of using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, being part of a crowd or being left outside of the house by oneself. Many fear the loss of control and being ridiculed for suffering a panic attack.
Separation anxiety disorder is not just for children. Adults can deeply fear being separated from those who give them comfort and/or their attachment figures. Many will avoid being alone for that reason, have trouble sleeping due to nightmares, and experience distressing physical symptoms when thoughts occur about unexpected or anticipated separation.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A combination of psychotherapy and medication are used to treat anxiety disorders. Therapy must be customized to each patient’s specific worries and needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches new ways/approaches to thinking, behaving, socializing and reacting to triggers. Exposure therapy works in the same way. This type of therapy allows patients to confront plaguing anxieties by engaging in fearing-inducing situations or guided relaxation exercises. Medication can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. These include benzodiazepines, antidepressants and beta-blockers.