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Guest Blog- Anxiety Disorders

[ 0 ] May 22, 2012 |

Anxiety Disorders, Their Symptoms, and Recognizing the Problem

Millions of people struggle with anxiety to the point where anxiety has been demonized because of the way it affects people’s quality of life. Yet anxiety is actually an evolutionary tool. It’s the “fight or flight” response – an immediate reaction designed to tell the mind and body urgently whether you need to “fight or flight” as a response to an event, action, person, etc.

At a time when human beings were prey and fought amongst themselves within their tribes, this tool was invaluable for staying alive. But as civilization improved, the fight/flight response was no longer as useful, and for many people the disuse of the response causes it to misfire. This is anxiety – our natural fight/flight response being triggered incorrectly in situations which don’t require anxiety.

No one can really live completely without anxiety, because anxiety is useful for staying safe from danger. But those struggling to control their anxiety experience fear in a variety of situations – or for no reason at all – and these situations can make it difficult to enjoy life.

The Many Different Types of Anxiety

There is more than one type of anxiety, and more than one type of anxiety disorder. When most people discuss anxiety, they are generally referring to “Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Generalized anxiety disorder is persistent anxiety which is disproportionate to what is being experienced, either because it’s unprompted, or the person is experiencing more anxiety in a less stressful situation.

The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are the same symptoms that people experience during bouts of regular (fight/flight) anxiety. They include:

  • Fear or worry that won’t go away.
  • Sweating.
  • Physical trembling or shaking.
  • Nausea or upset stomach.
  • Lightheadedness.

The sufferer may also find they have ticks or other ways to release this nervous energy. Symptoms can differ from person to person, and the anxiety lasts long enough to be disruptive.

Other Anxiety Disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder is only one of several different anxiety disorders that manifest themselves in very different ways (although all anxiety disorders can share many of the above symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder), and each has its own potential treatment. Other anxiety disorders include:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – This disorder is characterized as anxiety which causes people to have obsessions (for example, keeping the hands clean) and compulsions (such as shutting a door three times). Obsessions are closely related to anxiety, because they’re often a part of anxiety, such as “I’m worried that something bad is going to happen to my family.” Compulsions are more of a coping mechanism. They are beliefs such as “If I touch this doorknob three times, that anxiety will go away” or “nothing will happen to my family if I go through this door twice.”
  • Panic Disorder – Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks. Panic attacks are a very unique type of anxiety, in that the responses are often very physical. During a panic attack, the individual often experiences a feeling of impending doom or death, and they usually experience severe physical symptoms that mimic heart attacks, contributing to that fear.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Also known as PTSD, this disorder is characterized by extreme anxiety as a response to a traumatic event. Some people may relive the event, while others simply experience an intensely high degree of anxiety that may cause them to react with a disproportionate amount of anxiety or fear in regular life situations.

There are other types of anxiety as well, including social anxiety (fear of social situations/socializing), phobias (intense fear of something that should not generally cause that much fear), and separation anxiety. It’s also possible to experience various degrees of anxiety that may not qualify as an anxiety disorder but still requires assistance.
Treating Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder treatments can be a long process, and involve targeting the specific anxiety disorder. There are medicines available, but ideally these should be the last resort as they are extremely strong and only numb the problems rather than solve them. Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown a great deal of promise, as well as exposure therapies (especially for panic disorder and phobias). There are also several alternative treatments available, many of which do have the potential to cure anxiety.

Anxiety disorders can have a tremendous impact on one’s quality of life. The good news is that there are ample treatment options available for those that need the support. Provided the individual is willing to admit he or she had an anxiety issue and adopt a treatment option best suited for that anxiety. They will find that living anxiety free is possible, and life will improve as a result.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera suffered from extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Currently, he provides information related to anxiety at

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About Jodean: Jodean Petersen is a medical professional who is a survivor of more than 20 surgeries, brought on by a teenage car accident which shattered the left side of her face, destroyed her left eye, and claimed the life of her best friend. Having been helped by so many, Jodean now works to help others facing similar life challenges through the outreach community she is building at View author profile.

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