Often those suffering with depression also feel anxiety. Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. Anxiety affects how we feel and behave. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.
People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as an exam or an interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Churning stomach
- Heart palpitations
- Easily tired
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension
Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations.
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well.
A Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias are different from generalized anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response identified with a specific cause. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results. Stimuli for phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects.
Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and social contact.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive. OCD suffers usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational, but they serve to alleviate their anxiety. Often, the logic of someone with OCD will appear superstitious, such as an insistence in walking in a certain pattern. OCD sufferers may obsessively clean personal items or hands or constantly check locks, stoves, or light switches.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by high levels of anxiety when separated from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety. Sometimes separation results in panic, and it is considered a disorder when the response is excessive or inappropriate.
Anxiety can be treated medically, with psychological counselling combined with stress management techniques. Ultimately, the treatment path depends on the cause of the anxiety and the individuals preferences. Often treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, and possibly medication.