When does Anxiety become a problem
Anxiety can continue to creep up and it becomes a mental health problem when it holds you back from living your life you want. Anxiety may be a problem if:
- your worrying affects your daily life, including your job and social life
- your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
- your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
- you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
- your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
- you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
Panic attacks come on suddenly and involve intense and often overwhelming fear.
They can happen when you experience high levels of anxiety. Anyone can have a panic attack. Sometimes, these attacks are a symptom of panic disorder.
Your heart pounds, you can’t breathe, and you may feel like you’re dying or going crazy. Panic attacks often strike out of the blue, without any warning, and sometimes with no clear trigger. They may even occur when you’re relaxed or asleep.
An anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. You may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.
An anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you may feel from time to time. An anxiety disorder happens when:
- anxiety interferes with your ability to function
- you often overreact when something triggers your emotions
- you can’t control your responses to situations
Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to get through the day.
Having an anxiety disorder does more than make you worry. It can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical conditions, such as:
- problems functioning at school or work
- trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- poor quality of life
- digestive or bowel problems
- headaches and chronic pain
- social isolation
- depression (which often occurs with an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorders
- substance misuse
Types of anxiety
Agoraphobia: is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. People often misunderstand this condition as a phobia of open spaces and the outdoors, but that is not the case. A person with agoraphobia may have a fear of leaving home or using elevators and public transport.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): is a chronic disorder involving excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, and people with the disorder are not always able to identify the cause of their anxiety.
Health anxiety: is a type of anxiety where people worry excessively about their health and may think they’re unwell when they’re not. They might check their body regularly for signs of illness, including unusual lumps, pains or other physical sensations. They may also be perpetually frightened of dying.
Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Obsessive thoughts are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind. They can make you feel very anxious. Compulsions are repetitive activities that you do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts. It could be something like repeatedly checking a door is locked, repeating a specific phrase in your head or checking how your body feels.
Panic disorder: is experiencing brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension. These attacks can lead to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and breathing difficulties. Panic attacks tend to escalate rapidly, peaking after about 10 minutes. However, a panic attack might last for hours.
Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress but may also occur without a trigger. An individual experiencing a panic attack may misinterpret it as a life-threatening illness, and may make drastic changes in behaviour to avoid future attacks.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. People experiencing PTSD often experience reliving the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life
Selective mutism: may be an extreme form of social phobia. People with selective mutism are not able to speak in certain places or contexts, even though they may have excellent verbal communication skills around familiar people.
Separation anxiety disorder: is a type of anxiety where people experience anxiety after separation from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety. Separation might sometimes result in panic symptoms.
Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia: is a fear of public embarrassment or of negative judgment from others in social situations. Social anxiety disorder includes a range of feelings, such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and anxiety around humiliation and rejection.
This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that it impacts on everyday living.
Specific phobia: is an irrational fear and avoidance of a particular object or situation. Phobias are not like other anxiety disorders, as they relate to a specific cause.
A person with a phobia might acknowledge a fear as illogical or extreme but remain unable to control feelings anxiety around the trigger. Triggers for a phobia range from everyday objects and situations to animals.
Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.