Here’s what anxiety might look like:
- Feeling unsafe
- Constant worrying about everything
- Compulsive behavior, like washing, counting, hoarding, cleaning or checking
- Fears of specific things like dogs, crowds, water or freeways
- Anticipating rejection and humiliation in the company of others
- Panic attacks
The Many Faces of Anxiety
Anxiety is about feeling unsafe. It can range from mild feelings of vulnerability to a wrenching whole-body panic experience.
Normal anxiety involves a perceived sense of danger and physical arousal to prepare for coping with the danger – fight or flight. The eyes dilate, adrenalin pours in, the heart beats faster, the body tenses. When the danger is over, the fear subsides and the body returns to normal.
In modern life, however, people get stuck in a constant state of worry and fear. There are so many threats, real or imagined. Can I keep my job? Will I have enough money? Can I make it on my own? Will I be loved? What if I’m alone? When will something really bad happen?
Sometimes these worries and fears become overwhelming. They stop us from living the full and complete lives that we would like to be living. When anxiety gets to this point it is important to find a way to gain control of the problem.
The Most Common Anxiety Problems:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is about constant worrying about everything. The constant worrying gives a sense of control. It feels like we have a handle on things if we are always alert and checking for danger.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves checking and double-checking in a number of ways; or believing certain behaviors – like washing, counting, hoarding or cleaning – will make us, or those we care about, safe.
Phobias involve being afraid of specific things like dogs, crowds, water, freeways and more. We withdraw from these things because we believe staying away will make us feel safe. Staying away stops the immediate anxiety but it hampers our ability to participate in life.
Social Anxiety appears because we anticipate rejection and/or humiliation in the company of others.
Panic Disorder involves having multiple panic attacks. These attacks come at you out of the blue, and the first one makes you think you are having a heart attack or going crazy. You are terrified something dreadful is happening in your body.
Of all the anxiety disorders, Panic Attacks are the clearest personal proof that anxiety has a grip on your thoughts, your brain and your body.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs when our warning system is overwhelmed with trauma. The symptoms include troubling thoughts and flashbacks, feelings of being outside the body, disconnection, numbing and intense irritability.
These problems can block you from feeling normal and engaged in life.