What Are Anxiety Disorders?

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

We all know what anxiety feels like - butterflies in the stomach, all emotions turned upside down, heart beating violently, furious sweating. All of us have come face to face with an anxiety attack at some point in our lives. Maybe it was before your speaking engagement before the big crowd in the auditorium, or before your first job interview, or that all important presentation to the board of directors - anxiety, is a universal emotion, and a normal reaction to stress.

As an evolutionary device, anxiety is very helpful in dealing with stress, tense and unexpected situations. Anxiety can stir you up into action, give you focus and heightened powers of concentration. Anxiety might help you stay up all through the night before that big exam, be funny or interesting on the first date, be confident at the presentation. To generalize matters, anxiety helps you deal with situations you would be terrified of being in in normal circumstances.

However, when anxiety elevates to excessive, irrational fear that impacts the very way we function and makes normal daily life impossible, then it has become more than mere anxiety - it is now a medical disorder.

Most anxiety disorders last for very short periods of time - a week or two - and do not really require serious medical attention. However, some anxiety disorders can be serious, lasting for months to year at a stretch, with the tendency to worsen exponentially if not treated in the early stages. Moreover, most anxiety disorders hardly occur in isolation - they're usually accompanied by psychological and physical sickness. Most patients of anxiety disorders are also highly prone to drug and alcohol abuse.

Anxiety disorders can be broadly classified into five types:

1. General Anxiety Disorder

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

3. Panic Disorder

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

5. Specific Phobias, Social Phobia and Social Anxiety Disorder

Each of these anxiety disorders have specific and varied symptoms, but all of them center around an excessive and irrational fear or dread.

If you believe you have anxiety disorder, or your daily life has been hampered due to some irrational fear, it would be prudent to seek medical help right away before your condition worsens. Anxiety disorders are some of the most easily treatable mental illnesses and a lot of specific therapies and medications have been developed to help patients fight their anxieties. Remember that anxiety is a universal emotion that impacts everybody at one point of time or the other, and can be overcome very easily.

Occupation: Teacher
School teacher, home improvement geek, green enthusiast, and DIY expert.


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