Have you ever wanted to know more about anxiety and understand what are the signs of anxiety? Or understand further the difference between stress and anxiety? You can find out more in this post!
Anxiety is common and it impacts over 40 million adults (age 18 and older) every year in the US. It is one of the most common mental health diagnoses that individuals experience.
Anxiety is a category which other diagnoses fall under. Some of these you may be familiar with or may not know as well as others: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Before we look at anxiety diagnoses further, another honorable mention of anxiety is stress. Everyone has experienced stress at one point or another, it is something we cannot escape. Stress can be experienced in different ways. One way is positive which can look like motivation to reach that deadline or goal, allow you to focus and block out distractions, and push you a little further (like running faster during a race). Most often though, we think of stress as having a negative impact on us, it can be experienced as anger, irritability, fatigue, disruption to sleep or eating, and distraction from other things important to you.
A common question asked is “Can stress lead to anxiety?” Stress and anxiety can seem confusing and interchangeable. Stress is something that is temporary and can be alleviated once the stressor (deadline, goal, person, event) is gone or done. Although someone who experiences anxiety does not experience all the symptoms at all times, anxiety symptoms continue even when the stressor is no longer around or present.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
It can also be referred to in its abbreviated term as GAD. You may experience the following with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive worry, feeling on edge, restless, fatigued more than usual, challenge to concentrate, feeling like your mind is going blank, irritability, feeling tense, and changes in sleep patterns.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder where someone experiences obsessions and/or compulsions, basically a way to organize the symptoms further. It is noted for someone to experience obsessions such as thoughts, impulses, or images that are recurring and intrusive; it makes it hard to focus on other things or to complete responsibilities when this occurs. For compulsions in OCD, it can look like: behaviors that need to be repeated to decrease the obsessive and repeating thoughts. Someone can recognize that the thoughts or the behaviors are not reasonable to maintain, however, it is easier to continue to decrease this anxiety as that is more distressing than stopping.
What is Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is noted by experiencing heightened fear or discomfort that peaks in intensity within minutes where one can experience physical responses (sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing control, racing heart, chills or hot flashes, feeling of numbness or tingling). The fear and discomfort may have an identifiable trigger or situation, however, the response to the trigger or situation does not match the situation with intensity and response.
Note: Anxiety attacks are a response and occur with a perceived threat and are milder in intensity while panic attacks are sudden and intense.
PTSD develops after one is exposed to an event that can be threatening, cause injury, or violence/abuse. Someone can experience this event directly, be a witness, learn about the event through someone, or be exposed repeatedly (first responders, emergency personnel). After the event occurs regardless of how it was experienced, one will have repeated recalling of the event, flashbacks, and experience the same physical responses when the event occurred. One can avoid certain triggers that remind them of the events or experience negative thoughts ongoing. Someone will experience similar symptoms to that of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in addition to the traumatic event.
What is Social Anxiety?
This anxiety disorder is when someone experiences persistent fear and overwhelm in social situations. This can cause the person to reduce interactions with others and even places they go to avoid social interactions.
In an upcoming blog, you can learn more about what can help when experiencing stress, anxiety, or any diagnosis that was touched on briefly in this blog.
America Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/anxiety-difference#:~:text=People%20under%20stress%20experience%20mental,the%20absence%20of%20a%20stressor.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html