Anxiety Disorder - Types and Symptoms

1 in 4 people experience anxiety, yet most don’t recognise it.
Many people think anxiety is "just stress" or just part of someone’s personality. Because of these misconceptions, many thousands of patients with anxiety disorders don’t seek support because they don’t realise that what they’re experiencing is treatable.

This has prompted beyondblue - an Australian, non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression and anxiety disorders to revive its national "Get To Know Anxiety" campaign featuring Ben Mendelsohn, to help people recognise the signs and symptoms so they can get treatment and get better.

Anxiety is an alerting signal; it warns of impending danger and enables a person to take measures to deal with a threat.
Anxiety is a universal feeling and everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time, but when experienced regularly the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder.

What is anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorder is characterised by excessive and inappropriate worry/concern about a range of issues. The patient may report disturbances in sleep or concentration as well as mood as a consequence of such concerns.

The conditions classified as anxiety disorders include:
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - refers to chronic (at least six months of persistent and excessive anxiety) and excessive worry about many different areas, such as finances, health, and the well being of others.
  • Panic disorder with / without agoraphobia - a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety. A panic attack can last from 5-10 minutes.
  • Social anxiety disorder - characterized by significant anxiety in social or performance situations, often leading to avoidance behavior.
  • Specific phobia - characterized by significant anxiety provoked by exposure to a specific feared object or situation (fears of heights, snakes, spiders, closed-in situations...)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - PTSD may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as major stress, sexual assault, terrorism, or other threats on a person's life.

What are the physical symptoms of anxiety ?
Anxiety is accompanied by a variety of manifestations such as :
  • Palpitations
  • Tightness of chest
  • Dizziness
  • Pupillary dilatation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension or tremors
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
Such symptoms will interfere with normal functions of daily living.

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