Feeling anxious once in a while is normal; it is a natural reaction to stress and can sometimes be beneficial. However, anxiety disorders differ from the usual nervousness or worry. They involve intense and persistent fear, which is difficult to control and affects the general quality of life. Anxiety disorders are a common mental disorder and can affect anyone regardless of age. The good news is that Bethesda women’s & reproductive psychiatry services at Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness (WCWCW) provide effective treatments to help people with anxiety lead normal productive lives. The different types of anxiety disorder include:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder involves intense and constant worry about routine or everyday activities like personal health and job responsibilities. The concern can also focus on minor things like car repairs, chores, or appointments. With generalized anxiety disorder, the worry is difficult to control and usually out of proportion to the actual circumstance. The feelings of apprehension are challenging to manage and may worsen over time, interfering with your daily activities. Most of the time, generalized anxiety disorder is accompanied by physical symptoms such as feeling on edge, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, or problems sleeping.
As the name may suggest, social anxiety, previously known as social phobia, is characterized by high anxiety levels, fear, and avoidance of social places. These feelings usually stem from the fear of being judged or negatively viewed by others. As a result, most individuals with social anxiety are self-conscious and feel embarrassed whenever they are in social places. They may completely avoid social areas or endure them with great fear. If you have social anxiety, you may find it challenging to speak or eat in public or even meet new people.
Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks – an overwhelming combination of psychological and physical distress. The repeated episodes of intense anxiety and fear reach a peak within a short time and cause several symptoms. A person may have a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, chest pain, lightheadedness, nausea, feeling detached, fear of dying, and chills or hot flashes. These symptoms are so severe that most people experiencing a panic attack think they have a heart attack or another life-threatening illness.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety that causes extreme fear of certain places or situations due to the fear of having a panic attack. A person with agoraphobia will avoid situations where escape may be difficult, embarrassing, or may not find help in case of a panic attack. The fear is usually out of proportion and lasts for more than six months or more, causing problems in functioning. A person with agoraphobia experiences fear in one or more of these situations:
- Being in open spaces
- Being in enclosed spaces
- Using public means of transport
- Being outside the home alone
- Being in a crowd or standing in line
With agoraphobia, you may avoid the above situations altogether, need company, or endure them with significant anxiety. When left uncontrolled, agoraphobia can become so severe that you may be unable to leave the house.
Anxiety does not go away on its own. Therefore, booking an appointment with your specialist at Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness (WCWCW) for treatment to improve your quality of life is essential.