We can experience anxiety when we are waiting to take an examination, or to visit a dentist, or even to give a solo performance. This is normal and expected and even motivates us to do our task well. On the other hand, high levels of anxiety that are distressing and interfere with effective functioning indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder.
Everyone has worries and fears. The term Anxiety is usually defined as a diffuse, vague, very unpleasant feeling of fear and apprehensions. The anxious individual also shows combinations of the following symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath,
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Physical Symptoms:
A. Motoric Symptoms: Tremors, Restlessness, Muscle twitches, Fearful facial expression.
B. Autonomic and Visceral Syndrome: Palpitations, Tachycardia, sweating, Flushes, Dyspnoea, Hyperventilation, Constriction in the chest, Dry Mouth, Dizziness, Diarrhea, Mydriasis.
- Psychological Symptoms:
A. Cognitive: Poor concentration, Distractibility, Hyper arousal, Negative thoughts.
B. Perceptual: De-realisation, Depression
C. Affective: Diffuse, Unpleasant, Fearfulness, Inability to relax, Irritability,
D. Insomnia, Increased sensitivity to noise, exaggerated startle response.
Major Anxiety Disorders and their Symptoms
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Prolonged, vague, unexplained and intense fears that have no object, accompanied by hyper vigilance and motor tension.
- Panic Disorder: Frequent anxiety attacks characterised by feelings of intense terror and dread; unpredictable ‘panic attacks’ along with physiological symptoms like breathlessness, palpitations, trembling, dizziness, and a sense of losing control or even dying.
- Specific Phobia: Irrational fears related to specific objects, interactions with others, and unfamiliar situations.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Extreme distress when expecting or going through separation from home or other significant people to whom the individual is immensely attached to.
- Other disorders: Included under this category are Selective Mutism, Substance/Medication Induced Anxiety Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical condition, etc.
Author: Pankhuri Pilania – Counselling Psychologist