Anxiety is a common feeling to some extent. Being apprehensive about a new situation, such as a test or a job interview, is considered normal and obvious.
However, living with insecurity and irrational fears can characterize an anxiety disorder.
“When the brain detects danger, it sends warning signals to the body, which reacts accordingly. When these feelings of worry persist when everything is under control, what is natural becomes pathological,” explains Dr. Tamires Cruz, specialist in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 18.6 million Brazilians suffer from anxiety disorders. Getting diagnosed, if this is the case, is important for seeking the correct treatment.
“Diagnosis allows the person to have a better understanding of what they are facing and, with treatment, develop strategies to deal with the problem and improve their quality of life,” says Dr. Tamires.
The expert adds that people with anxiety disorders have very low self-esteem and self-confidence due to negative thoughts about their worth. Also, according to the doctor, constant tension leads to headaches, neck and shoulder pain.
Anxiety disorder can manifest itself in several ways. Among the main ones are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic disorder, separation anxiety disorder and phobias.
1. General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
It is characterized by persistent worry and fear about many situations or events. “The feelings caused by these worries become unrealistic, which can affect the performance of those with GAD in their daily endeavors, due to an inability to control it,” explains Tamires.
Symptoms are the same as common anxiety, but more chronic and severe: headaches and stomach aches, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, sweating, difficulty sleeping, feeling of constant and impending doom.
2. Panic disorder
It is characterized by bouts of intense fear, which may include tremors, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fear of losing control, tingling sensations, and a sense of impending doom.
Tamires explains that the attacks come on suddenly and reach panic level within minutes and can last for hours. People who suffer from panic attacks tend to avoid certain places, situations and people who trigger the problem.
3. Social Anxiety Disorder
Increased heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and sweating are some of the physical symptoms that individuals with social anxiety disorder experience when forced to interact with other people.
To be classified as this type of anxiety, the symptoms must occur routinely, for at least six months.
Phobia is an irrational feeling of fear of something or a specific situation. There are different types of phobias, heights, spiders, flying, confined spaces, crowds, etc.
5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD sufferers have distressing, repetitive thoughts or actions that cannot be avoided, even if it is known to be an irrational reaction.
These individuals try to justify their actions with superstitious feelings, such as obsessively cleaning personal items, walking in the same pattern, constantly washing their hands, and repeatedly checking the same item, such as gas stoves and light switches.
It is an anxiety disorder that usually comes from a previous experience in which there was a risk of losing one’s life.
According to Tamires, panic attacks in people with PTSD usually occur when confronted with a trigger that points back to the traumatic event.
7. Separation anxiety disorder
This type of disorder presents itself as an intense manifestation of panic when the person experiences withdrawal from someone, place or object. For Tamires, the symptoms of this disorder are typically seen in young children when they are separated from their mothers or caregivers.
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