Most of people feel anxious from time to time. People feel anxious when they go on a job interview, when they talk with someone they want to impress or even when they need to give a speech at their best friend’s wedding.
When people feel anxious they also experience some physical symptoms like trembling hands, butterflies in the stomach or facial flushing. This often affects people’s behavior. So they look at everything in a room avoiding only the person they really want to talk to. There is also a little voice in the head which is triggered by anxiety and usually says things like: “she/he will think I’m stupid, I won’t be able to think of anything to say” , “this is impossible” or “I can’t do this”
Although anxiety can be quite difficult it can also be an important motivator. A healthy dosage of anxiety is important because it helps people to focus on their actions and goals they try to achieve. When a person has an important game to play or upcoming test, anxiety motivates her/ him to practice more or to study.
Researches explained the connection between arousal and performance as an inverted “U” so they said: “both too little arousal and too much arousal are detrimental to performance”. The truth is that anxiety not always has a negative impact on performance. Studies have proven that people who have significant anxiety can do as well as those who feel less anxious. The difference is that the first ones need to try harder to achieve the same thing. And that is why anxiety can be so exhausting.
Different types of anxiety disorders
People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience chronic worries which are not suitable for the actual threat or danger. Many people are worried when they are about to lose their job but people with GAD are always worried about their job, their children’s safety, financial situation without any reason.
People who have Panic disorder often feel scared that they might experience an unexpected panic attack so they start avoided places where the previous attacks happened. During a panic attack they feel enormous fear and discomfort along with some physical symptoms like numbness, rapid heart rate, trembling, nausea and sweating. These symptoms are quite serious and frightening and many people think that they have a heart attack or that they are dying in those moments.
People with Social anxiety disorder avoid social gatherings as they think that other people will evaluate them. This fear from communication along with the feeling of inferiority prevents people from reaching their full potential at work or school as well as in creating supportive social relationships.
People who suffer from Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have intrusive and distressing thoughts along with images. To reduce stress they often develop some ritualized behaviors. So they often think that they can get some serious illness from contact with other people like from shaking hands or if they bump into someone on the street. This triggers their anxiety which makes them wash their hands all the time, their clothes, body even the entire house.
People who suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually have experienced some severe trauma in the past like an assault for example. They continuously think about this experience which is repeatedly “relived”. So they start avoiding people, places and topics that remind them of the trauma. They also stop being close with their families as they feel some sort of emotional numbness.
All these disorders differ from one another. But there are some things in common. So people with anxiety usually have problems in important areas in their lives like relationships, work or school.
Anxiety disorder may appear due to many factors like personality traits, genetics, and exposure to trauma and current stressors like problems in a relationship, family and work.
Prevalence and treatment
In 2007 the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW) found that about 20% of Australians will be diagnosed with some mental illness mostly with anxiety disorder (14.4%), in 12- month period.
Women suffer from anxiety more than men. NSMHW confirmed that almost 18% of women compared to 11% of men were diagnosed with anxiety in the past 12 months. More than 25% of people will be diagnosed with an anxiety during their lives.
It is a very sad fact that although anxiety is a very serious and devastating illness, many people still don’t seek a professional help. Many of them live with this condition even for decades. You should know that anxiety disorders are treatable. There are medications that can help as well as therapies like cognitive behavior therapy (a psychological approach which deals with cognitive, physical and behavioral aspect of anxiety) which is proven to be quite effective in treating anxiety disorders.
If you suffer from anxiety which affects your everyday life and relationships then you need to be brave enough to seek a professional help. Anxiety worsens if you try to avoid it and when you fight back it can be reduced.