May 31, 2023 | Mental Health

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Understanding Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

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Anxiety is something we have all likely experienced to some degree. However, for some individuals, anxiety can be a crippling mental health disorder, which can impact every aspect of life; from professional endeavours to personal relationships, to overall well being. Dealing with anxiety can be a tiring, lonely and challenging journey. In a two-part series, this week we will discuss some of the different types of anxiety disorders. Next week, we will delve into some strategies to help cope with anxiety. We recommend you seek professional help for an official diagnosis, as this blog is intended to be informational for educational purposes. 

Anxiety can manifest in many different forms and looks different depending on the person. Let’s look at a few of the most common anxiety disorders and some of the symptoms that an individual may experience: 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

It is normal to feel anxiety. However, when you begin to experience anxiety to a point where it impacts your everyday life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder. This disorder is characterised as excessive and persistent worry or anxiety about everyday occurrences. It can often include overthinking, fear of failure, obsessive thoughts, and feeling of overall unrest. The Mayo Clinic outlines the following as common symptoms: 

  • Persistent worrying or anxiety out of proportion to the impact of the events 
  • Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes 
  • Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t 
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty 
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision 
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry 
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge 
  • Difficulty concentrating, or remembering 
  • Fatigue 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches 
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy 
  • Nervousness or being easily startled 
  • Sweating 
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Irritability 

In most instances, these symptoms bleed into your day-to-day life, making it hard to focus on other things. It can cause distress related to your social, personal and work life.  

Panic Disorder 

Panic disorders involve reoccurring panic attacks characterized by intense fear, combined with physical symptoms. They are generally sudden episodes of overwhelming anxiety and can lead to avoiding certain situations due to the fear associated with having a panic attack. Panic attacks may be triggered by a specific event or situation, or they may occur when you least expect it. They are often unpredictable and are unnerving and scary to experience. The Mayo clinic describes the following as common symptoms: 

  • Sense of impending doom or danger 
  • Fear of loss of control or death 
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate 
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat 
  • Chills 
  • Hot flashes 
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Chest pain 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or faintness 
  • Numbness or tingling sensation 
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment 

Social Anxiety Disorder 

Social anxiety disorder is associated with immense fear of social situations, often linked to people feeling like they might be judged or embarrassed. It is often related to feeling self-conscious, being seen in a negative light, and individuals may go out of their way to avoid social interactions to alleviate these fears. The Mayo clinic outlines the following symptoms related to social anxiety disorder: 

  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged negatively 
  • Worry about embarrassing or humiliating yourself 
  • Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers 
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious 
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice 
  • Avoidance of doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment 
  • Avoidance of situations where you might be the center of attention 
  • Anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event 
  • Intense fear or anxiety during social situations 
  • Analysis of your performance and identification of flaws in your interactions after a social situation 
  • Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation 
  • Blushing 
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Trembling 
  • Sweating 
  • Upset stomach or nausea 
  • Trouble catching your breath 
  • Dizziness or light-headedness 
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank 
  • Muscle tension 

As we mentioned earlier, the importance of a professional diagnosis to treat an anxiety disorder is key to finding necessary support. If you related to any of the symptoms discussed in this blog, please reach out to a medical professional. It is important to understand that there are a variety of treatments available, and your doctor will work closely with you to implement a plan best suited to your needs and diagnosis. 

By understanding the different types of anxiety disorders, we hope that people will feel empowered to speak up when necessary. It is also important for those who don’t experience these issues, to have a better understanding of what it is like for those who do. This will allow people to be more empathetic, supportive, and encouraging to those in their lives who need them most. 

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