Everyone Experiences Anxiety Differently
Anxiety is a word that is familiar to a lot of people through discussion in popular culture and the press. But far from a one-size-fits-all disorder, anxiety can take on a variety of different forms that create different symptoms and require medical diagnoses to ensure patients get the help they need.
The Many Types of Anxiety
The National Institute of Mental Health defines the primary types of anxiety as Generalized Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. As society becomes more aware of the prevalence of anxiety, many people suspect that they have anxiety but are unsure about the specific form of anxiety they may be suffering from.
With Generalized Anxiety, a person may experience many different symptoms, including feeling restless, wound-up, irritable, and being easily fatigued. The symptoms can last for weeks and months, and lead to excessive worry and ultimately may interfere with work performance and relationships.
The hallmark of panic disorder is tremendous anxiety about having additional panic attacks. Panic Disorder can develop when someone becomes fearful of having another attack. During a panic attack, a person may start sweating, shaking, and have shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate. Panic attacks can be recurrent and unexpected, and lead to an avoidance of places that can trigger an attack.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder relates to people having a pronounced fear of being and performing in social situations. Someone with Social Anxiety Disorder can experience a sense of dread for weeks or months before a large social gathering. Prevalent feelings associated with Social Anxiety Disorder include an expectation of being judged, rejected, and potentially offending other people. People who have Social Anxiety Disorder often have a difficult time making friends and eventually may avoid other people altogether.
Risk Factors for Anxiety and Best Approach for Treatment
Being female, having exposure to a stressful life event, and having been shy as a child are notable risk factors for experiencing one or more forms of anxiety. Other factors like elevated cortisol levels are harder to detect for the average person.
It is important that if you or a loved one is feeling anxious and having a difficult time managing day-to-day life, that you contact a qualified mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment.