How much fear and anxiety is normal?
Fear and anxiety are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational worries that become constant and disturbing, interfering with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no apparent or logical reason for the person’s feelings. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the patient.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic, distressing, and interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include avoidance behavior, physical anxiety reactions (nausea, sweating, faintness, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and trembling), and panic attacks or a fear of these.
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in specific situations or for no apparent reason. Panic attacks are a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder. They may be related to a chemical response in the brain caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes, such as shallow breathing and increased heartbeat.
Panic attacks are frightening. Some people say they feel like they will die or lose their minds. They may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the development of other anxiety disorders like claustrophobia.
Anxiety disorders can affect a person’s work, study, and socialization. There are different types of anxiety disorders. These include:
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- panic disorder (and panic disorder with agoraphobia)
- social anxiety disorder
- specific phobia
- substance use disorders such as alcohol abuse
- post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
- generalized anxiety disorder
- trichotillomania/dermatillomania or body-focused repetitive behaviors)
Anxiety disorders are distressing and debilitating. They contribute to losing educational and employment opportunities and family and social relationship difficulties.
Generalized anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is excessive anxiety and constant worry about many things. The focus of the concern might be romantic relationships, friends, health, work, money, or forgetting necessary appointments. You may be diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder if you find it hard to control your anxiety and if the worry has been prevalent for over half a year.
Cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) has been more researched and specifically targets thoughts, physical symptoms, and behaviors, including the over-preparation, planning, and avoidance that characterizes GAD. Supportive and interpersonal therapy can help with GAD. Mindfulness-based approaches and acceptance commitment therapy are implemented at Refresh Recovery San Diego, given its evidence-based options for anxiety.