WHAT IS ANXIETY?


Anxiety is a general term for a condition that includes excessive worrying, nervousness, fear and uneasiness. Anxiety can affect how we feel and behave. Sometimes when one is highly anxious, there can be manifestations of real physical symptoms.

Anxiety disorders may be caused by a variety of different factors, including environmental factors, a history of trauma, medical factors, genetics or biological factors, brain chemistry, substance abuse, or a combination of these. It is most commonly triggered by the stress in our lives. Those with biological or genetic predispositions to anxiety might experience symptoms more easily or frequently.

Some examples of anxiety may include:

* Constant worry about things in and out of our control

* Always expecting the worst

* Gnawing feelings of impending doom and disaster

* Constant worry about finances

* Experiencing life as a constant struggle

Mild anxiety might be experienced as vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

Common forms of Anxiety Disorders include:

GAD—Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations.

Panic Disorder, a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that can lead to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but can last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur following a frightening experience or persistent stress, but they can also occur in a spontaneous fashion.

Phobias
Phobias, an irrational fear and evasion of an object or setting. Phobias are different from generalized anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response. The fear may be recognized 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. For example, agoraphobia occurs when one avoids a particular place or situation to avoid an anxiety or panic attack. Agoraphobics will situate themselves so that escape will not be difficult or embarrassing, and they will change their behavior to reduce anxiety about being able to escape.

OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions) that are repetitive, disturbing, and intrusive. Individuals with OCD usually know that their obsessions or 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 counting the cracks on the sidewalk or walking in a straight line. OCD sufferers may obsessively clean personal items or hands or constantly check locks, stoves, or light switches.

Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder, 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 extreme shyness in social situations, stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. Often individuals avoid public situations and interactions with others.

Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety, 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.

PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is severe anxiety that results from significant past trauma such as, rape, sexual trauma, hostage situations, or a serious accident. PTSD often leads to flashbacks and behavior changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.