Anxiety is a broad term used to describe several different concerns. Generally, anxiety consists of persistent worry and concern, nervousness, a raised heart beat, racing or obsessive thoughts, muscle tension, and fear that something bad will happen.

Feelings of anxiety are a normal part of every person’s experience, and these feelings often surface when you are anticipating a big event, planning for a public speech, and confronting a challenge. Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with your functioning. In other words, if it limits two or more areas in your life, like your capacity to work, be with friends and family, participate in events, or sleep and overall wellness, then it may be time to seek support.

There are several different types of anxiety, including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorders, Specific Phobias, and Social Anxiety Disorder.

Please note: It is important be aware that anxiety may be induced by a substance or by a general medical condition. These factors must first be ruled out before being diagnosed with any of the below. This is why a medical check-up and telling your doctor about your anxiety symptoms are important.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about many different things. This is more of a globalized issue that impacts our general mood towards events and activities. This worry is generally accompanied by irritability, difficulty concentrating, being easily fatigued, disturbed sleep, and muscle tension. It is the most common form of anxiety, and it is known to frequently occur with depression.

Children may also be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and only one of the above symptoms is required for it to be diagnosed. However, clinicians are cautioned by the American Psychiatric Association against the over diagnosis of GAD in children.

Some studies have identified what is called familial traits of generalized anxiety. This means that anxiety can be passed down, or a common dynamic within a family system. It has been my experience, that children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder often have at least one parent who also struggles with anxiety.

Panic Disorder

A panic attack may occur unexpectedly or situationally, and it involves a specific period of intense fear or discomfort that includes: a pounding heart rate, sweating, trembling, feeling short of breath, chest pain, nausea, fear of losing control or going crazy, fear of dying, chills or hot flashes, feeling dizzy or faint, feelings of unreality, or feeling choked. Panic Disorder is diagnosed when panic attacks have been reoccurring over a period of time.

Specific Phobia

Phobias are characterized by an excessive fear of a specific situation or object. Those with a phobia will have an immediate anxiety response to the anticipation of or exposure to the feared event, and will recognize it as an excessive and unreasonable fear. When the fear begins to interfere with an individual’s normal routine, work, relationships, or social activities, it is then labeled a phobia.

Social Phobia

Social Phobia is a specific phobia that is marked by fear of social situations that may cause embarrassment, like meeting new people or doing a performance. The individual will have an immediate anxiety response in the anticipation of the social situation, and it may evoke a panic attack.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that are very intrusive and persistent that cause an individual to attempt to reduce them by a compulsive action. Therefore a compulsion is a behavior that the individual feels they  must do in order to suppress the obsessive thoughts, or prevent a perceived negative event. A key element is that the actions taken are not really connected with the dreaded event, such as: hand washing, checking, counting, or repeating words. This can become a problem when these repetitive and persistent actions interfered with a routine, work, socializing, or quality of relationships.

This is just a summary that briefly describes the symptoms of anxiety, and it is not  intended to be used to diagnose or treat someone. All diagnosis and treatment should only be done by a qualified clinician. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety please visit our contact page, or set-up an appointment in our client portal.

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