What are Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is the reaction of the mind and body to real or imagined threats and danger. It is a survival reaction. Often anxiety produces physical symptoms of a rapid heartbeat, tense muscles, sweaty hands, queasy stomach, or trembling hands and legs. The flight or flight reaction to danger is caused by the rush of adrenaline in the body. “Fight or flight” means the mind decides whether the threat is real and how person wants to respond. Fight the danger or run away from the situation? The symptoms of anxiety often continue long after the incident is over.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, Clinical Anxiety Disorders are anticipatory fears of situations to come that are excessive and can be debilitating.
The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety
With Anxiety Disorders it is important to distinguish between fear and anxiety. Fear is a natural and necessary reaction to what is considered threatening. It does not matter if the threat is real or imagined, if the individual perceives the threat to be imminent, fear is a natural response.
Anxiety, however, anticipates a future threat. A standard response to a threat produces mild feeling of anxiety, fear, nervousness, repetitive thoughts, dread, and other uncomfortable emotions. Often it is accompanied by physical symptoms too. Many situations can produce anxiety. Socializing, performance in school or work, dating, illness, and traumatic events.
But anxiety disorders develop when anxiety levels become too high. These mental health disorders occur when the physical and mental symptoms interfere with daily tasks and functioning.
What Are the Different Types of Clinical Anxiety?
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition details ten types of clinical Anxiety:
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Separation Anxiety affects children in anticipation of or at the time of separation from a caregiver
- Selective Mutism Disorder
- Selective Mutism is a type of anxiety wherein the individual ceases to speak in anxiety-provoking situations
- Specific Phobia Disorder
- Specific Phobia Disorder refers to the type of anxiety that orients around a particular phenomenon, for example, an intense fear of elevators
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) refers to individuals who suffer anxiety in relation to social situations
- Panic Disorder
- Panic Disorder describes the condition wherein individuals suffer panic attacks
- Agoraphobia refers to individuals fear of leaving one’s home or being in crowded places
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder refers to a consistent experience of anxiety dispersed across several areas of functioning
- Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
- Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder and Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition refer to the phenomenon of increased anxiety due to prescribed medication, substances, and preexisting medical conditions respectively
- Other Specified Anxiety Disorder
- Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
- Other Specified and Unspecified Anxiety Disorder refers to anxiety that is caused by or in response to stimuli other than the specified etiologies in the other listed Anxiety Disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
What are the Symptoms of Clinical Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Individuals suffering with Generalized Anxiety Disorder experience a disproportionate amount of worry and agitated anticipation focused on an array of situations. The specific symptoms a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder will experience include:
- The individual experiences anxiety, worry, anticipatory concern, apprehension with regards to a myriad of situations including social, education, or occupational situations, on most days for at least six months duration
- The individual experiences the anxiety as overwhelming their ability to stop it
- The anxiety cannot be attributed to substance use, prescribed medication, a medical condition, or another mental disorder
- Three or more of the following symptoms are experienced
- Feeling restless, anxious, or wound up
- Tiring easily
- Inability to retrain a thought
- Feeling disagreeable or irritated
- Physical tension
- Trouble with sleep: either falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling restored and rested by sleep
What are the Symptoms of Clinical Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)?
When a person has clinical Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) their anxiety is specific to being in relation to others. There are several factors that distinguish Social Anxiety Disorder from other diagnoses in the Anxiety Disorder collection. Most significantly, the anxiety spikes in relation to the thought of being negatively judged by others in social situations. This fear of judgement causes physiological symptoms such as sweating or trembling when engaging in social situations, in addition to avoidant behaviors to abstain from social situations altogether. The following is a list of symptoms the individual will experience with Social Anxiety Disorder:
- The individual’s fear and anxiety of social situations lasts longer than six months and causes significant hinderance in social, education, and occupational settings
- The individual will experience fear and anxious thoughts when considering social situations where they feel they will be in some way judged, watched, or evaluated, such as: while interacting socially in conversations or meeting new people; while doing a solitary activity in proximity of others, such as eating, drinking, or walking; more distinctly in front of people in what could be considered a performative manner, such as giving a speech
- The individual will exhibit concern that their anxiety will be noticeable and they will in turn experience embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection
- The individual experiences social situations as anxiety provoking almost always
- The individual will avoid social situations or will engage them in a fully anxious state
- The individual’s perception of the threat of the situation is disproportionate to consensus reality threat about the social engagement
- The symptoms experienced are not due to a substance, prescribed medication, medical condition, or another mental disorder
Silicon Beach Treatment Center
Those with anxiety disorders often make lifestyle changes that help control their symptoms. Eating a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine, reducing alcohol, learning to relax using yoga or meditation, and getting enough sleep are some change that help. Sticking with their treatment plan and taking their medications as prescribed helps with anxiety disorder. Some anxiety disorders only require short term medical help and others require years of medication and therapy.
At Silicon Beach Treatment Center, we can treat anxiety disorders. Our task when treating any area of client suffering is to identify the nature of your experience with it, and explore the underlying causes. We can then work together to usher in resiliency, foster a more hopeful outlook, and restore equilibrium. Our caring, trained professionals will work diligently to bring you the support, interventions, and treatment you need.
Please note, the information on this page is based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, however, it is in no way exhaustive on the subject of each disorder discussed. This text is not intended to be the basis of self-diagnosis of any disorder. Only a trained mental health provider can provide you with an accurate diagnosis based on a myriad of factors and details specific to your particular case.