Everybody knows what it’s like to feel anxious. The butterflies in your stomach before a first date, the tension you feel when your boss is angry or the way your heart pounds if you’re in danger. Anxiety rouses you to action. It gears you up to face a threatening situation. It makes you study harder for that exam, and keeps you on your toes when you are making a speech. In general, it helps you cope.
Too much anxiety can become a problem, and this is called an anxiety disorder. Anxiety under these circumstances can keep you from coping and can disrupt your daily life. Anxiety disorders aren’t just a case of “nerves”. They are disorders, often related to combinations of biological factors and life experiences of the individual. These disorders often run in families. There are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own distinct features.
An anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time, without any apparent reason. Or the anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that to avoid them you must stop some everyday activity. Or you may have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense that they terrify and immobilize you. Some of the more common forms of anxiety disorder are as follows:
- Panic disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Specific phobia
- Social phobia
- Obsessive-Compulsive disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder
People with Panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly without warning. They cannot predict when an attack will occur, and many develop intense anxiety between episodes, worrying when and where the next attack will strike. In between these times there may be a persistent lingering worry that another attack could come at any moment.
When panic strikes, you may experience heart pounding and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint or dizzy. Your hand may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or a fear of impending doom. You may genuinely believe you are having a heart attack or stroke, or losing your mind, or on the verge of death. Attacks can occur at any time even during non-dream sleep. While most attacks average a couple of minutes, occasionally they can go on for up to 10 minutes. In rare instances they may last an hour or more.