Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders can present in several different patterns.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
The main symptom of generalized anxiety disorder is worrying excessively for a long period of time. Other symptoms include unrealistic perception of problems, psychological and physical tension, restlessness, trouble concentrating, headaches, difficulty sleeping, startling easily.
Phobias are extreme fears, often of irrational things. People can have phobias of travel, bugs, animals, foods, or nearly anything else. Phobias may cause only mild inconvenience, but for some people, phobias they can be serious enough to cause major interference in their lives.
Social Anxiety Disorder
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder often feel very anxious in social settings. Because of their discomfort in social settings, they tend to keep to themselves at social events or avoid social events altogether. They may have physical manifestations of their anxiety such as a cold sweats, racing heart, shaking or trembling, flushing, and stomach upset.
In panic disorder, a person will feel a sudden and overwhelming sense of panic. Panic attacks aren't always predictable which causes even more distress for those suffering from Panic Disorder. Panic attacks can even happen at night, waking a person out of a deep sleep.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by a high level of baseline anxiety, with or without any triggering stressors. This disproportionate level of stress often causes significant negative impact on the sufferer's family, job, social life, and finances.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
People who suffer from BDD are obsessed with appearance flaws that only they can see. They often feel so embarrassed of these perceived flaws that they feel uncomfortable being around others.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
In OCD, people experience recurring, unwanted ideas or thoughts that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as checking on things, cleaning or hand washing, can significantly interfere with an individual's daily activities and social interactions.
Some examples of compulsions:
- Cleaning to reduce the fear that germs, chemicals, or dirt will "contaminate" them some spend many hours washing themselves or cleaning their surroundings.
- Repeating to dispel anxiety, some people utter a phrase or name or repeat a behavior several times. They know these repetitions won’t actually guard against injury but fear harm will occur if the repetitions aren’t done.
- Checking to reduce the fear of harming oneself or others by, for example, forgetting to lock the door or turn off the gas stove, some people develop checking rituals. Some people repeatedly retrace driving routes to be sure they haven’t hit anyone.
- Ordering and arranging to reduce discomfort, some like to put objects, such as books in a certain order, or arrange household items “just so,” or in a symmetric fashion.
- Mental compulsions to response to intrusive obsessive thoughts, some people silently pray or say phrases to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded future event.
How is anxiety treated?
Generalized anxiety and other forms of anxiety are typically treated through a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. There are many medications available for anxiety and our team works with patients to find the best fit for treatment.