Suffering from anxiety involves experiencing an overwhelming feeling of anxiety over prolonged periods of time (or constantly) and a sufferer’s life being negatively affected by it as a result.
However, there are various different types of anxiety, each with specific symptoms and treatments available. Types of anxiety include:
Panic disorder involves abnormal feelings of panic both mentally and physically on a continual basis and usually involves some form of panic attack frequently occurring. Sufferers of panic disorder may have it so severe that they are constantly worried about having panic attacks, and this can have a negative impact on both their professional and personal lives.
Panic attack and panic disorder symptoms:
• Struggling to breathe
• Pounding heart/chest
• Excessive Sweating
• Tingling in the arms and feet
• Uncontrollable shaking
• Chills or hot flashes
• Intense anxiety
• Overwhelming anxious feelings about dying
Panic Disorder Diagnosis:
Panic disorder is diagnosed by an evaluation with a doctor and a psychiatrist. If a sufferer explains their symptoms and a general practitioner doctor can’t find anything physically to be causing their symptoms, they may diagnose them with panic disorder and also be advised to see a psychiatrist to get a second diagnosis of panic disorder.
Panic Disorder Treatment:
After an evaluation with a psychiatrist, the sufferer will then be given a diagnosis and likely be encouraged to undergo a series of treatment sessions to learn how to calm anxiety. They may also be prescribed prescriptive medications to cope with this disorder.
In addition to psychotherapy, a sufferer of panic disorders may also try cognitive behavioral therapy which involves addressing the root problems behind negative behavioral patterns and using coping strategies to better help with anxiety next time they are faced with anxiety and a potential panic attack.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Posttraumatic stress disorder (often referred to as PTSD) involves feeling “shell shocked” or overwhelming emotionally affected by a negative, traumatic and unsettling life event. Suffers will often relive the traumatic event repeatedly in their head, and can feel intensely anxious by certain emotional triggers in everyday life. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious mental illness that if untreated it can cause lifetime mental, social and even physical problems.
Although veterans and military members with PTSD often get the most media attention as PTSD sufferers, having PTSD is not just for those who have been in the military and fought in war. What causes anxiety in the form of PTSD can affect anyone that has encountered a traumatic personal experience and can affect anyone of any age.
Symptoms of PTSD can vary widely from individual to individual, but common symptoms of PTSD sufferers can include:
• Experiencing frequent flashbacks of the traumatic event
• Reliving the traumatic event repeatedly in their head
• Becoming overly jumpy/nervy at loud sounds/certain emotional triggers
• Experiencing hallucinations of the traumatic event
• Avoiding situations and people that they fear will trigger them to mentally relive the event again
• Increased irritability
• Increased blood pressure
• Prone to panic attacks
• Nausea and diarrhea
Doctors will usually diagnosis their patient with PTSD when significant symptoms are present but there are no found physical reasons for suffering these symptoms. Medical tests and mental evaluations will be included in this diagnosis, which may involve the patient filling out forms and answering various questions regarding their symptoms.
A doctor will also likely refer their patient to a psychiatrist who can then help the patient seek treatment for PTSD through psychotherapy techniques and if needs be prescribe medication to the patient. Potential medications can include the following anti-depressants and tranquilizers:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is an anxiety disorder which consists of sufferers having overwhelming feelings of being out of control, and in turn trying to gain control in their lives by doing repetitive actions and having repetitive thoughts and habits. They often believe that if they do not complete their OCD habits and rituals, something very bad will happen to them or someone else, often a loved one.
Each sufferer of OCD will have their own unique ritual and thought patterns but typical OCD symptoms can include:
• Fear of accidentally committing a crime or doing something else unintentionally immoral
• Fear of germs, dirt and becoming ill
• Not wanting to touch certain objects
• Fear of being ridiculed or publicly embarrassed
• Need for symmetry
Common rituals for OCD sufferers can include:
• Obsessively cleaning
• Obsessively bathing, washing hands
• Eating foods in a specific order
• Uncontrollable thoughts, patterns or specific words frequently running through the mind
• Needing to do tasks or chores a number of times before it can be “complete”
• Repeatedly reorganizing a space until it is “perfect”
• Hoarding items that have no value or that are disruptive
• Repeatedly saying aloud certain words or number patterns
As with many psychological issues, there is no specific lab test to diagnose OCD. Instead, it is usually diagnosed by a sufferer presenting their symptoms of OCD to their doctor, who may then diagnose him or her with OCD and may advise the sufferer to seek a second opinion from a psychiatrist.
How to overcome anxiety in the form of OCD is typically treated by psychotherapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychotherapist or cognitive behavioral therapist will address the sufferers’ issues by looking at the causes and past events that have led them to develop OCD and the uncontrollable thought patterns and habits that this entails. The therapist will then usually work with their patient to help them change their thought patterns and rituals and realize that nothing bad will happen from the patient changing the way they act and think.
Medications for anxiety may also be prescribed to help cope and overcome OCD and these can include:
Social anxiety disorder, sometimes also referred to as social phobia, involves having acute fear, even to a phobic level, of social situations and social interactions. This anxiety can become so severe that the sufferer may deliberately avoid social situations to the extent that it negatively affects their personal and professional lives.
Social Anxiety Symptoms:
Common social anxiety symptoms include:
• Intense anxiety regarding social situations
• Anxiety of performing in front of others, intense fear of being negatively judged
• Avoiding social situations for fear of being embarrassed or doing or saying the wrong thing
• Fear of being the center of attention
• Fear of talking to new people, being negatively viewed by them
• Fear of eating and/or drinking in front of other people
Social Anxiety Diagnosis:
Although there is no exact laboratory or blood test for social anxiety, it can usually be diagnosed by a patient talking to their doctor about their symptoms and perhaps seeking a second opinion from a psychiatrist. A sufferer of social anxiety disorder will usually be diagnosed by answering questions regarding their everyday life and especially with regards to how they emotionally feel when confronted with social situations.
Social Anxiety Treatment
Social anxiety is most often treated by either prescriptive medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Help with anxiety includes psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy which can help the sufferer discover the root causes behind their social anxiety which the therapist can then work with to help them learn to cope with their disorder. A therapist will try to give the sufferer mental tools and methods for ways to reduce anxiety in which they can then use next time they feel socially anxious.
Common prescriptive drugs used to treat social anxiety with include: