What is anxiety
Anxiety is the feeling of unease that happens during a stressful situation. It can be fear, apprehension, or worry, and can range from mild to severe. Everyone gets anxious occasionally, it’s a part of life.
But if the feelings of anxiety are severe, last for long periods of time (6 months or more), and begin to affect daily life, then it may be an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders cover a broad range of disorders and severities than can show themselves differently depending on the person.
The most common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
One of the most common anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic and persistent anxiety or worry about situations that normally wouldn’t cause worry or concern. Even ordinary or routine tasks cause anxiety, to the point where is affects daily life.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is disorder in which the person suffers from unwanted, repeated behaviours or thoughts. These can take the form of persistent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions), or an overwhelming urge to do routine tasks (compulsions).
- Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by frequent panic attacks. A panic attack is an unexpected surge of intense fear, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach pain, or dizziness.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder than can happen after someone experiences a traumatic event. The exact symptoms differ for everyone, and can sometimes take months or even years to manifest.
- Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by overwhelming stress, anxiety, and self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social anxiety disorder can vary in severity for everyone, but in more severe cases, some may try and avoid all social interactions with other people.
There’s no one thing that causes anxiety, but most likely it’s a combination of factors such as genetics, environmental factors such as upbringing or a traumatic situation, as well as brain chemistry.
Triggers will differ for everyone based on the what makes them anxious, even among those with the same anxiety disorder. What’s a trigger for one person may not be an issue for another.
Symptoms will vary based on the type of anxiety disorder, as well as how it manifests in the person. However, symptoms can be mental, physical, or a combination of the two.
Common symptoms include:
- Feeling on-edge
- Apprehension or worry
- Tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flashes
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Being irritable muscle tension
- Clenched jaw
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
When to See a Medical Doctor
Anxiety is a part of normal life, and we’ve all felt it at one point or another. However, when anxiety persists for weeks or months at a time, or begin to affect our daily life, that’s when it’s time to speak to a doctor.
Understanding the anxiety, what triggers it, and how it manifests in us, mentally and physically, is crucial to treating and managing symptoms. A doctor is the first step to getting one’s life back on track.