The truth is that anxiety has many sources, can accompany many disorders (such as PTSD), and can wear many faces. Let’s look at the different ways anxiety can present itself in your life.
The descriptions below are offered in the spirit of “knowledge is power.” The more you know about your type of anxiety and its specific symptoms, the better equipped you will be to explore further about the source of your struggles and share the information with your physician or mental health specialist.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterized by persistent anxiety and worry that is not traceable to a specific trigger. Environmental stress, genetics, and brain chemistry can all contribute to GAD. Symptoms often include physical ailments like headaches, rapid heartbeat, difficulty swallowing, feeling edgy or restless, and feeling light headed or out of breath.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can follow a traumatic experience and isn’t always associated with wartime events. A key symptom is avoidance of something connected with a traumatic event. Military veterans, first responders, victims of assault, and those who have experienced the sudden death of a loved one are most at risk.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
SAD is one of the most common forms of anxiety and is characterized by extreme discomfort in social settings. Symptoms include avoiding social situations, feeling physical discomfort when in social situations, and feeling anxiety in anticipation of a future social event.
Nearly 3 percent of US adults experience panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by the sudden onset of panic resulting in sweating, shaking, racing heart, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, or fear of losing control or dying.
Phobias are an irrational response to a specific trigger and are pinpointed to certain things (like a fear of spiders, heights, or enclosed spaces). Exposure to a trigger can result in severe anxiety or a panic attack.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by relentless, obsessive thoughts around something dreaded (for example, the death of a loved one or visualizing something repulsive). These obsessive thoughts are paired with a compulsive activity meant to drive the obsession away (for example, washing hands or organizing in a precise way).
Reading about a type of anxiety that corresponds with your own symptoms can be anxiety producing in its own right. Take courage from the fact that you are not alone in this struggle. As you talk to people in your life whom you know and trust, you may be surprised to discover who in your community of family and friends has similar struggles.
Because of the various types of anxiety, the triggers may be different than yours, but the commonality will be the anxiety that results. And understanding the various types of anxiety can empower you to effectively address the particular anxiety disorder that is wreaking havoc in your life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia, it’s important to seek professional help. Our world-class team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE has helped many people recover from eating disorders through our focus on whole person care. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak confidentially with an eating disorder recovery specialist today.