Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. In the US, more than 18% of the population suffers from some sort of anxiety disorder.
Before delving into the different anxiety disorders, anxiety itself is not necessarily unhealthy. Anxiety is a feeling every human experiences sometimes. It ensures that we don’t forget important responsibilities that contribute to our survival and success.
Anxiety is only a problem when it persists even in the absence of a trigger, or if it causes you to do things which are counter to achieving your goals, such as self-sabotage and procrastination.
The most common types of anxiety disorders include:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) occurs when you experience anxiety around a number of things… or around nothing at all. Carrying out basic day-to-day tasks may be difficult in light of the anxiety. Thoughts constantly make you doubt your competency and your mind may go around in circles.
With GAD, you may struggle with low mood and have difficulty ever turning off. Even when on vacation or taking a break, you still feel the effects of the anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) refers to an anxiety specifically related to social interactions and events. Having to talk to new people is difficult, and you may experience blushing and perspiration. This makes it even more difficult to interact with others. Social anxiety disorder is not only present when you are in social situations, but may cause you to obsess about past and future events. The prospect of a coming interaction can cause immense anxiety and obsessive thinking.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes obsessive thoughts around particular actions or experiences. These may be obsessive thoughts around weight gain, hygiene, security, and other things.
These obsessive thoughts lead to compulsions, which you believe will relieve you of the thoughts. This may be checking the stove a certain number of times, washing hands over and over again, etc.
Someone who experiences panic attacks regularly may be suffering with a panic disorder. A panic attack causes you to feel completely helpless, as if everything is going wrong and there is no escape. You hyperventilate, experience a racing heart, sweat, and struggle to think straight. Panic attacks are very distressing, and someone living with panic disorder may experience regular anxiety over the possibility of a panic attack.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when the body does not return to normal after a traumatic event. In response to the event, your body triggers stress hormones that make you hyper-aware and reactive, ready to confront the perceived danger. With PTSD, these responses continue long after the danger is gone. Common symptoms include paranoia, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and a disproportionate response to loud noises and other such triggers.