Anxious about anxiety?
- By Team TDO
Anxiety disorder is a term that almost everyone has heard and experienced in some form or the other. It is a generic term used to describe different forms of a mental disorder wherein those afflicted show typical characteristics of great apprehension, fear and trepidation.
The symptoms, of course, vary depending on the severity of the affliction. So you can have 'anxious moments' when you narrowly escape an accident while driving - that's temporary and natural, while some others might have chronic anxiety which might need medical aid.
Types of anxiety disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder: There is no specific reason for the symptoms of anxiety i.e. restlessness, apprehension, worry, and panic. Thus the term general anxiety disorder (GAD) is any irrational worry which is disproportionate to the source of anxiety. GAD is a state of perpetual irrational and persistent fear which absorbs a person's time or can disrupt his normal functioning. The symptoms of GAD are light headedness, sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, and numbness.
Phobias: Phobias are an irrational morbid fear for certain things or objects. The list of phobias is exhausting as it is anything that a human being is capable of being afraid of. Thus you have arachnophobia which is the fear of spiders, homophobia, which is the fear of homosexual people orxenophobia,the fear of foreigners. Phobias can completely paralyze and terrorize a person and is a form of anxiety disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder: This is the classic loop where a person is afraid of certain situations arising constantly and thus takes precautionary measures to ensure that it won't. Only thing is that this turns in to a compulsive ritual which can throw her in a loop. Thus a person can be said to have OCD if she persistently checks to see if the gas valve is off as she has a fear that she will set fire to her home. It is a particularly distressful anxiety disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: This is anxiety arising out of a traumatic incident which the person undergoes. It could be a horrific accident or an extremely brutal incident which the person has witnessed. The trauma is revisited again and again in the mind and manifests as anxiety. This disorder is based on real events that the person has experienced or undergone and can take a long time to heal.
Panic disorder: This is characterized by panic attacks or episodes where great terror or discomfort is experienced. It is a very unsettling experience as the patient feels he is about to go unhinged or something dangerous or embarrassing is going to happen to him. Thus the sensation or feelings of panic build up and reach a crescendo resulting in a panic attack. Sometimes in a panic attack, the patient's reality and perceptions are distorted and blurred and can thus put him in danger.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health there could be a number of reasons for anxiety disorders. They vary from early childhood environment to lifestyle causes, heredity and even environment.