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Anxiety can be experienced at different levels, and although most people experience a relatively mild form of anxiety when facing particularly stressful situations (such as having to give a speech or presentation) anxiety disorders are severe and can disrupt the day-to-day life of an individual. Anxiety can be brought on by a fear of something that happened, or what we think happened and dread happening again.
When individuals suffer from an anxiety disorder it may lead to avoidance of certain situations because they fear their anxiety may be triggered. This can in turn lead to relationship and/or career problems such as not being able to achieve potential job opportunities or promotions and being unable to develop personal relationships.
Individuals suffering from generalised anxiety disorder often anticipate tragedy and worry extremely about family, money and health. Generalised anxiety disorder interferes with daily life and is usually diagnosed when an individual spends at least six months worrying excessively about normal everyday problems. Other minor issues such as chores or appointments can also cause anxiety and for some, just getting through the day can be extremely stressful.
Another type of anxiety disorder is panic disorder which is characterised by terror, which strikes suddenly without warning. Panic attacks are a common symptom of panic disorder, but not everyone who has a panic attack will develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is much more common than is generally recognised and affects a large proportion of the population.
Social anxiety disorder is also a type of anxiety disorder, which is defined by extreme anxiety and discomfort in social situations. According to some research, social anxiety (also known as social phobia) is the third most common psychiatric disorder after depression and alcoholism. Fear of being around other people, having to interact with them and being judged negatively by them are the common signs of social anxiety. Agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces, crowds, public places and/or travelling alone) is another severe form of anxiety.
As there are different types of anxiety, there are a number of different symptoms, however the most common include:
As each individual reacts differently to different pressures, determining one cause of anxiety is difficult. Research suggests there are a number of contributing factors, such as:
Certain medications seem to alter the chemical imbalances in some people’s brains. This suggests that there could be a chemical imbalance link to anxiety.
Evidence suggests that anxiety can run in families. It is not clear, however, as to whether genetic factors account for the disorder or whether similar environments and life experiences contribute to its cause.
The development of anxiety disorders is believed to be linked to long term exposure to abuse, poverty, violence or drugs.
Research suggests that personality types may determine whether or not you are susceptible to developing an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can often be treated by a combination of approaches. Medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and behavioural therapy are all common treatments for anxiety disorders.
Hypnotherapy can also be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. Solution Focussed Brief Therapy (SFBT) allows the patient to understand what the positive intention of the anxiety was and to find other ways of fulfilling that positive function, but without the negative effects of feeling anxious.
This content is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice.