Anxiety is a normal emotion everyone feels, it is your body’s natural alarm; it has been helping guide us through dangerous and uncertain times since the beginning of human history. It can be as simple as the feeling of fear a child has of the dark, or as complex as unease many adults feel just thinking about public speaking. For most people, anxiety is a transient feeling, lasting only a momentarily – giving them time to pause and evaluate their situation and surroundings, then it goes away.
But anxiety is also a powerful feeling. For some people, the level of anxiety they feel or how long it lasts is out of proportion with its cause – or there might not be an obvious cause at all. This can have a major impact on the health and happiness of the individual, sometimes dominating their life. Many people with anxiety disorders find it difficult to live a normal life. But the good news is that anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues and can be treated with outstanding results.
Some of the more common anxiety disorders are defined below:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Defined as lingering feelings of generalized worry and anxiety lasting 6 months or longer. There isn’t necessarily a cause one can point to, but the symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, sleep problems and irritability. It can include physical symptoms as well such as muscle tension and aches.
The root cause of a panic attack. Panic attacks are feelings of intense fear where there is no real danger. They can arrive completely unannounced without any perceivable cause, or be triggered by something very specific. No matter the cause, panic attacks result in physical reactions the person might have no control over, and could come at the most difficult times.
An irrational fear of something. Phobias go well beyond regular feelings of fear, they create intense feelings of discomfort and anxiety out of proportion with a perceived or real threat. Some phobias are nothing more than an inconvenience, such as arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. But others, such as agoraphobia, the fear of public spaces and crowds, can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life – preventing them from performing tasks such as grocery shopping or going to work. As with other anxiety disorders, phobias are a treatable condition, often with outstanding outcomes. And contrary to what’s seen on TV, immersion therapy is not always the answer!
Perhaps the most difficult of the anxiety disorders to define. Social anxiety is a fear of being embarrassed, judged negatively or social rejection. Nearly all people have social fears to some extent, even the most confident among us have feelings of discomfort around certain people or situations, but social anxiety differs in the level of intensity being felt. If you have feelings of social anxiety preventing you from being happy or living your life to the fullest, it may be time to speak to an anxiety counselor.
Anxiety counseling can be very effective and often a turning point a person begins to enjoy life again. If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, the next step is reaching out to an anxiety counselor to talk about what you are experiencing and how it is impacting your life.