Sometimes it seems that in these times, you’d be crazy NOT to have high anxiety. There is so much to feel anxious about. But if you have an anxiety disorder, your day-to-day life is impacted by your disorder. You might find it difficult to focus on your work, you may feel afraid to travel, or you may find you’re petrified to leave your home. There are all sorts of side effects—difficulty sleeping, profuse sweating, muscle tension.
It’s helpful to be able to identify what type of anxiety you suffer from so you can begin to go about healing. Here are some anxiety disorders:
If you have panic disorder, you have repeated panic attacks for seemingly no reason. You feel a heightened sense of fear and dread. You have physical symptoms like a thundering heartbeat or chest pain that makes you feel you’re having a heart attack. Maybe you have hot flashes or sudden chills. Or perhaps you find it hard to breathe, with shortness of breath and a choking sensation. Or dizziness, nausea, feeling faint, numbness. It’s scary because it comes out of nowhere and you feel totally out of control.
This is another disorder in which you feel totally out of control. You are obsessed by a thought that you just can’t get out of your mind. Sometimes the harder you try, the harder it is to dispel the thought. Your obsession makes you feel upset and angry. The compulsion aspect of this disorder is something you think or do repeatedly to relieve your anxiety. Like checking the stove to make sure the burners are turned off time and time again during the day. Or not stepping on a sidewalk crack because you truly believe you will break your mother’s back. It’s illogical behavior that’s triggered by illogical thinking—both of which you are powerless to stop.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Lots of people feel a little anxious in social situations. But if you have social anxiety disorder, your anxiety is extremely intense. You may be petrified of performing in public, even if that performance is just showing up at a cocktail party and making conversation. Meeting new people, dating, eating or drinking in public—these are all triggers. And famously, some people would rather die than speak in public. Everyone feels some trepidation in these situations, but the difference is, your anxiety is overwhelming, making it hard for you to function. You might have an increased heartbeat and other physical symptoms. You have a deep fear of being judged by others for your behavior, and it’s a fear you can’t control, even if you know it’s excessive.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
If you have BDD, you can’t stop thinking about the way you look. This is more than vanity, this is not being able to rid yourself of negative thoughts about your body. And that affects your daily life. You spend inordinate amounts of time in front of the mirror, obsessing over features you think are defective. Even when people reassure you repeatedly that you look just fine, you can’t find it in your heart to believe them. You wear excessive makeup. Or you compare your features to others, frequently and unfavorably. You wish for plastic surgery to change things that don’t need changing.
Phobias are fear on steroids. If you have a phobia, you will do anything to avoid the cause of your anxiety. And that could be a number of things: spiders, snakes, bugs or other animals; heights or germs; blood or vomit; going to the dentist or doctor; sexual performance. Agoraphobia is the fear of finding yourself in situations from which you can’t extricate yourself, or can’t find help if you get in a difficult situation. If you have agoraphobia, you don’t like crowds, being in public places, or using public transportation. It makes it difficult for you to leave your home without feeling panicky. This can impact your day-to-day life in radical ways, making you a virtual prisoner in your own home.
Anxiety disorders may be caused by a variety of reasons, like genetics. You might just be born predisposed to anxiety. Or you may have had a traumatic experience that triggers anxiety. And drugs—even caffeine or alcohol—can make you feel anxious. Sometimes you find yourself in situations that make you feel anxious, and once the situation is resolved, your anxiety dissipates. If your anxiety doesn’t go away on its own, a qualified therapist can help you.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact