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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling that everyone can occasionally experience. You might feel anxiety when you try something new, or meet new friend. You may even feel it when you fly in an airplane for the first time or give a musical performance. For most people the anxious feeling comes and goes and the person is able to continue on with their activities without further issue. However, if feelings of anxiety persist over a long period of time (about a month) or seem to be extreme, then you might be struggling with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders generally have symptoms associated with extreme fear, worry, and panic about events or outcomes that may or may not happen in the future. Sometimes anxiety is specific to certain people, places, events, or situations and may not be constant.

Here are some common anxiety disorders and their associated symptoms:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • GAD is characterized by chronic feelings of stress, anxiety, exaggerated worry and fear about certain events (past or future), with or without evidence that those events will occur

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • OCD can be classified as having recurrent, unwanted (intrusive) thoughts and or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Example behaviors are: repetitive counting, washing, checking, cleaning, or mental actions.OCD sufferers hope that the actions will help diffuse the anxiety and make the obsessive thoughts go away.These rituals provide only temporary relief and make the problem continue on and increase anxiety over time.Some behaviors are mental and are not easily identifiable or diagnosable.

  • Panic Disorder

  • Frequent, unexpected episodes of intense fear and physical symptoms (chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach pain, dizziness, feeling that one is losing control or going crazy)

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • PTSD is a disorder that can start after being exposed to a terrifying and/or life threatening event (to yourself or others) in which physical harm or death was threatened. Traumatic events are most commonly associated with: violent personal assaults, witnessing a death, natural or human caused disasters, accidents or military combat.Other events can also cause PTSD such as a traumatic divorce (usually from a an abusive relationship), physical abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, sexual assault, severe bullying, etc.

  • It should be noted that people can develop anxiety associated with vicarious trauma, meaning that they are sensitive to major catastrophes or events that they witness happening to friends or family, or witness on TV or as a bystander.

  • Social Phobia or Social Anxiety

  • Social phobia or social anxiety is when one feels overwhelmed and self-conscious in social, everyday situations. This can occur in only some cases (i.e. speaking in front of people, eating in front of others, etc).Some people have symptoms everyday in every situations.Can progress to a more severe anxiety disorder (agoraphobia)

  • Should not be confused with introversion personality traits

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