“Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year,1 causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated”. National Institue of Mental Health Technically there are seven major form of anxiety disorder (See my post on Types Of Anxiety). But if you talk to people what do you find as the most common forms that are presented as difficulties? Five main problems seem to crop up most often. These common forms are often seen as different expressions of an anxiety disorder when in reality some of them are really related forms. But these are reported most often – what’s your experience?
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - this terrible feeling of ‘free floating’ anxiety that pervades a person’s life and is there all the time – from waking to going to sleep. Yet it cannot be attributed to any apparent event and does not go away no matter what is tried. The anxiety seems excessive and never relents.
- Phobias - these can be quite prevalent. Some seem natural like fears of bugs and spiders, etc., but when a phobia takes over your life and turns to severe fear reaction, incapacitating you and limiting your quality of life then it is something quite different.
- Panic Attacks – this is quite different because you often feel you are dying and your whole body is flooded with a range of terrible physical symptoms. Quite a lot of people experience these – some persistent and repeatable attacks, others one or two never to have any further difficulties again. But these can really ‘suck’ and can create a whole range of secondary problems as a result that can have some very limiting long-term effects.
- Panic Attacks with Agoraphobia – really a play mate or extension of panic attacks. This complication arises because you fear public places because you are dead scared that a panic attack will arise without warning and you will be compromised so the best thing to do is to avoid all situations that you cannot rapidly escape from. Before you know where you are you are avoiding all situation and too scared to go out-of-doors.
- Social Phobia - people are such a problem that they must be avoided completely. This is not just a form of overt shyness. It is any public situation that is the problem because the underlying fear is that you are an embarrassment or are going to embarrass yourself in public.