Stress and anxiety have almost become en vogue in our culture. In fact, being highly anxious is sometimes thought to be a sign of professional importance. But those who suffer from chronic worrying know that there is nothing glamorous about anxiety.
Of course, we all have aspects of our lives that cause us to worry. But when that worry becomes chronic and begins to interfere with our day to day functioning, it has become highly problematic. Indeed, if your worry has reached this debilitating level you may very well be suffering from an anxiety disorder that requires treatment.
Anxiety Disorders: The Family Tree
Anxiety disorders adopt different forms and are grouped into families, or categories, that share the same features. The following is a list of the subgroups of anxiety:
- GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, is a form of anxiety that overshadows every aspect of a person’s day to day life. People with GAD are usually not provoked to feel anxious, by any specific factor, but instead feel chronically anxious for no apparent reason. In order to receive a GAD diagnosis, a person will need to experience this chronic anxiety for a period of at least six months. Treatment for GAD includes various medications and therapy, enabling them to identify and properly deal with the sources of their anxiety.
- Social phobia. Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is a type of anxiety that rears is worrisome head in social contexts. Perhaps you are required to deliver a presentation at work, or to host a dinner party for friends. Regardless of the social event, a person with social phobia will find social situations highly stressful for fear of being judged. Social anxiety disorder, similar to GAD, can be effectively treated through medication and / or therapy.
- OCD. OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, adopts the form of worrying obsessively over one or several hypothetical scenarios. Perhaps a person obsessively fears that a loved one will be harmed. As a way of coping with this unfounded fear, he or she will engage in repetitive behaviors as a way of discouraging this fear from becoming realized. These repetitive behaviors range from having to do normal things a certain number of times, or having to perform their daily routine in rigid order. Medication is a viable treatment option for OCD, as is psychotherapy.
- Panic Disorder. When a person suffers from panic disorder, he or she will undergo highly intense feelings of anxiety followed by physical resonances of that anxiety. When experiencing a panic attack, a person may believe that they are on the brink of death. This is because panic attacks involve heart palpitations, dizziness and complete disorientation. Panic disorder, similar to several other anxiety disorders, can be treated by medication, therapy, or a combination thereof.
- PTSD. PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is experienced by people who have been involved in especially traumatic situations. Bearing witness to the violence of war, or being the victim of a rape or a natural disaster, all constitute viable causes for PTSD. Those suffering from PTSD often experience flashbacks in which they relive the traumatic event in a highly realistic way. PTSD is primarily treated through therapy in which a person speaks about the trauma they have experienced, and deals with it on a cognitive level.
To be sure, we all have reason to feel stressed and worried in life. Perhaps our jobs are demanding, or we feel particularly invested in the well-being of others. Nonetheless, if your worry has reached a chronic and debilitating level it is necessary to seek medical attention. Anxiety disorders are, after all, quite manageable if proper measures are taken.