Everyone – at least at one point in their lives – has suffered anxiety. Whether it’s making a big decision, starting a new job, ending a relationship, we have all felt the nervousness, fear and anticipation which goes along with big changes in our life. However, when anxiety disrupts our ability to function normally, it is classed as a ‘disorder’.
This means that if we experience one or some of the many anxiety symptoms, there could be a chance that what they cause us to feel and think is so overwhelming that we struggle to maintain the pattern and order of normal life.
What are anxiety disorders?
There are a number of anxiety disorders. The most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders are:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
While these are the most common, your diagnosis might not fall into these brackets. However, it might be of interest to find out more about these particular types in order that you learn more about your own particular experiences.
Being diagnosed properly as suffering from a disorder can be an enormous relief to a person. When they experience a series of unpleasant symptoms, it can often be a comfort that they have a recognised condition which can be treated.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD normally refers to feeling anxious over a long period of time. This chronic type of anxiety will subside and return, seemingly at will, throughout someone’s life. Usually, the anxiety is not caused by anything specific, but will focus on a particular aspect of your life, no matter how innocuous it may appear from the outside.
GAD as a diganosis is quite broad and includes a large number of symptoms. This could mean that your experience of GAD is different to another person’s – simply because of the scope of experiencing different effects of the disorder.
Panic attacks can be unpredictable and very unsettling. Often, the person suffering from them may not recognise the trigger, but they often come at times of stress, grief and worry. If you are not sure of the cause, or if you suffer a series of them, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.
Some of the symptoms of panic disorder is living in fear of the next panic attack – which in turn can trigger an attack in itself.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD has been wrongly used for many years as a desire for order and neatness around the house or workplace. However, a diagnosis of OCD will come after someone experiences:
- obsessions – unwelcome thoughts, images, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind
- compulsions – repetitive activities that you feel you have to do
They end up having their lives controlled by their urges and are unable to settle in to a regular ‘normality’.
While many of us fear various things (spiders, the dark, air travel), a phobia manifests itself as an intense fear – sometimes with things that pose no danger. Phobias mean that your anxiety is triggered by a particular situation and seeing, or even hearing about, certain objects.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is the developing of strong feelings of anxiety after witnessing, or being in, a traumatic situation. Some symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, ill health and anger issues.
Bear in mind, that this is a general overview of the main disorders caused by anxiety. If you feel you may be experiencing something resembling an anxiety disorder, we recommend you speak to your GP, doctor or a counsellor to help shine some light on your set of symptoms.