Types of Anxiety
1. Normal Anxiety
Normal Anxiety, like how its name suggests, is a type of emotion that we normally feel. When we feel anxious, we get fidgety and most of the time we start sweating, having upset stomach, getting headaches, feeling our muscles tighten up, and have heart palpitations. Feeling anxious once in a while (eg. before taking exams or getting married or being a parent etc.) is considered beneficial and healthy for the human body in anticipating danger. Using anxiety before exams as an example, it helps sharpen your mind and focus your attention during exams. Worrying about the results will make you work harder because you want to do well in your exams. Angst plays an important part in this situation.
2. Problem Anxiety.
When a person is diagnosed with problem anxiety, the angst is usually illogical and persistent, affecting the sufferer’s lifes. Basic symptoms of people who have anxiety: the physical responses like the ones mentioned above (palpitations, headaches, stomach upsets), having misleading thoughts that cause excessive worry and changes in behaviour of the person on how he/she/they lives their life and performs socially. If problem anxiety worsens, it will lead to anxiety disorder.
According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is defined as
“the presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least six months and is clearly excessive,“ together with cognitive and physical symptoms of anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
1) Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
This type of disorder is a chronic disorder that involves imprudent, long-lasting worries and anxiety over random life events, objects and conditions. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders, sufferers often can’t find the cause of anxiety.
2) Panic disorder and panic attacks
Panic disorder can be identified when a person has a brief or sudden attack of extreme panic and angst. Panic attacks tend to escalate quickly and they can last for a few hours. The attacks might result in nausea, dizziness, breathing difficulties and shaking.
Panic disorders often take place after petrifying encounters or prolonged stress, sometimes it will occur with no trigger at all. When some people have panic attacks, they mistake the attacks as a life-threatening illness and make huge changes in their behaviour to avoid having attacks in the future.
3) Specific phobia
The Cambridge Dictionary defines phobia as “a type of anxiety disorder (= a mental illness that makes someone very worried and affects their life) that involves an extreme fear of something”. Phobias are different from other anxiety disorders since they relate to a specific cause.
An individual with a phobia can't control the anxiety they have around the trigger and they recognize a fear to be irrational or drastic. Triggers are something that
causes the phobia of an individual, they can range from animals or situations to objects.
For example, Agoraphobia is a type of phobia that makes a person avoid and be afraid of events, places and situations that are hard to escape or have no help available. An individual suffering from agoraphobia might be afraid of leaving home, taking public transportation and using elevators.
4) Selective mutism
Selective mutism is a form of social phobia and a type of anxiety that is commonly found amongst children. Children who suffer from selective mutism aren’t able to talk in a specific place even when they are able to display an excellent set of verbal communication skills around people who they are close to.
5) Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the constant fear of other people’s judgement or views towards you in social situations. Sufferers fear public embarrassment/humiliation, intimacy and they get anxious when they have to tackle issues with humiliation and rejection. Since they are uncomfortable in social situations, the people who suffer from Social anxiety disorder tend to avoid public events and human contact to the point where they have a hard time with life.
6) Separation anxiety disorder (SAD)
This type of anxiety disorder, like selective mutism, is also frequently found amongst children but it can also affect adults too. People who suffer from SAD worry excessively and panic about having to be apart from a person or a place that gives them a sense of security or safety.
General causes of anxiety disorders
Since there are tons of different anxiety disorders, there are many separate causes or triggers for each individual disorder. We can’t give you the specific ones for each type of disorder as some of the causes are interlinked, some may overlap, some may occur in special occasions but here is the scope:
1. Environmental pressure
- Difficulties in school or work
- Relationship or family issues
- Gender and sexuality
- According to www.healthline.com, eco-anxiety refers to “persistent worries about the future of Earth and the life it shelters”.
People with family members or blood relatives who have anxiety disorders are more likely to inherit one as well
3. Medical causes
- Side effect of medications
- Symptoms of a disease
- The stress from a surgery/extended recovery
4. Brain chemistry
Most anxiety disorders are characterized by psychologists as “misalignments of hormones and electrical signals in the brain”
5. Stopping the intake of illicit substances
- Anxiety and drug use have a complex relationship
- Withdrawing from substances may lead to an escalation in anxiety In a study conducted by Charlotte C. Bavely and Anjali M. Rajadhyaksha, it shows that people who take substances or use drugs either already suffer from a type of anxiety disorder or get diagnosed after using substances.
Should you have any of the symptoms that may lead to an anxiety disorder, please meet up with a professional to sort the issue out as having an anxiety disorder is really harsh and it will deeply affect your life. Remember to not stress yourself out too much, give yourself a break sometimes, take some time to relax, breathe, chill and enjoy life! Learn to let go or embrace different situations to avoid getting excessively anxious. If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. The angst and the hard times will pass eventually, reminding yourself that the pain is temporary. Talking to friends, watching sitcoms on netflix and meditation has helped me persevere through the adversity, and I hope this helps you guys too!
"Anxiety: Symptoms, types, causes, prevention, and treatment." https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454.
"NIMH » Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness." https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/.
"Eco-anxiety: Symptoms, Causes, and How to Cope - Healthline." 22 Sept. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/eco-anxiety.
Researcher: Andrea Tse, Editor: Jasmine Chan, Editor+Thumbnail: Hailey Wong, Text Transcription: Megan Kwok