Types of Anxiety

First and foremost you need to know that anxiety will not kill you…at the peak of an anxiety attack it might feel like you are dying or suffering from a heart attack, but rest assured you are not dying.  Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stressful situations.  In fact, anxiety can actually be good as it is your minds way of relaying to your body that there is something wrong.  Under the main 

 

TYPES OF ANXIETY

 

Anxiety is a wide ranging manifestation of cognitive, physiological, and behavioral responses to real or imaginary stimuli.  These responses can occur out of what seems to be nowhere, and can last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes, with symptoms climaxing within ten minutes.  

Consequently, anxiety catches a person off guard, without any conscious explanation, resulting with a feeling as if they are going crazy.  The level of intensity may vary from discomfort to full blown dissociation. A sense of panic occurs within the context of most anxiety disorders.  

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classifies the following disorders as Anxiety Disorders:   

  • Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia), 
  • Specific Phobia, 
  • Social Phobia, 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 
  • Acute Stress Disorder, 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  


For the reason that a sense of panic occurs within most anxiety disorders, the DSM-IV-TR recognizes the existence of four or more of the following as a panic attack:


Chills or hot flushes
Chest pain
Dizziness
Fear of going crazy
Fear of dying
Feeling numb
Feelings of choking
Feeling detached from self
Heart palpitations (accelerated heart rate)
Nausea
Shortness of breath
Sweating
Trembling or shaking

 

Self-Assessments are as follows for each of the previously mentioned Anxiety Disorders.

 

 

Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia):

The DSM-IV-TR defines Agoraphobia as “anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or in which help may not be available in the event of having an unexpected panic attack.  These fears typically involve situations of being outside the home alone, standing in line, being in a crowd, traveling in a bus, automobile or train, or being on a bridge.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000. P.433). Panic attacks associated with Panic Disorder are not caused by the physical effects of a substance.

   

1. Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks (as defined above).

Y N

2. The attack is followed by at least one month of concern that there will be another attack, worrying about the consequences of the attack, or change in behavior because of the attack.

Y N

If you answered YES to questions 1 and 2, experience agoraphobia, and the panic attack was not caused by the use of any substance; you are likely experiencing a Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia.


If you answered YES to questions 1 and 2, do not experience agoraphobia, and the attack is not caused by the use of any substance; you are likely experiencing a Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia.


Specific Phobia:

The main characteristic of Specific Phobia is a distinctive, ongoing fear of a specific object or situation.  This fear usually begins with the anticipation of, or the presence of the feared object or situation.  Commonly feared objects or situations include, but are not limited to: animals, blood, clowns, dentists, doctors, elevators, flying, and needles.


1. I have a fear of direct exposure, or anticipated exposure to a specific object or situation.

Y N
2. I experience panic attack symptoms (see Panic Attack) when exposed to the object or situation, resulting in an anxiety response.

Y N
3. My fear is excessive or unreasonable.

Y N
4. I avoid such situations, or endure them with intense anxiety.

Y N
5. My fear of such things disrupts my daily functioning.

Y N
6. There is no other explanation for my anxiety.

Y N

 

If you answered YES to all of the above questions, you are likely experiencing a Specific Phobia.


Social Phobia:

The main characteristic of a Social Phobia is fear or embarrassment of being judged or evaluated in situations where one may be called upon to perform in the company of others, leaving one open to public scrutiny.  The fear may become so overwhelming that it results in avoidance of the situation completely.  For instance, a student may feign sickness on the day he is required to give a class presentation, or never volunteer to solve a problem on the chalkboard, from fear of being evaluated or making a mistake.  Public speaking is the most common Social Phobia.


1. I am terrified of social or performance situations where I am exposed to the scrutiny of others, causing humiliation or embarrassment.

Y N
2. Such situations cause me great anxiety or panic (see Panic Attack).

Y N
3. My fear is excessive or unreasonable.

Y N
4. I avoid such situations, or endure them with intense anxiety.

Y N
5. My fear of such things disrupts my daily functioning.

Y N
6. There is no other explanation for my anxiety.

Y N

 

If you answered YES to all of the above questions, you are likely experiencing a Social Phobia.  


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

The two main characteristics of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or commonly known as OCD; obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. For instance, a person will obsessively (think) about getting sick because they believe the surface they touched was contaminated; followed by compulsively (action) washing their hands several times, trying to alleviate the obsessive thought.  This compulsive action can result in the person believing they did not wash their hands good enough, consequently, feeding a cycle of continual obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions.  Among the examples of OCD are: constant and obsessive cleaning, checking, tidying and positioning, if it interferes with daily functioning.


1. I have recurrent and persistent thoughts that cause me distress/anxiety.

Y N
2. These thoughts are not simply excessive worries.      

Y N
3. I constantly try to ignore or suppress these thoughts.

Y N
4. These thoughts are coming from my own mind.

Y N
5. I repeat certain behaviors in response to these thoughts.

Y N
6. My intention for these behaviors is to decrease the anxiety caused by these thoughts.

Y N
7. I recognize these thoughts and actions as excessive.

Y N
8. These thoughts and actions disrupt my daily functioning, more than an hour at a time.
Y N
9. There is no other explanation for my anxiety from these thoughts or actions.

Y N

 

If you answered YES to all of the above questions, you are likely experiencing an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Post-Traumatic Stress disorder or commonly known as PTSD occurs when one has experienced a traumatic event which involved actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to one’s physical integrity. PTSD may also occur from witnessing such events.  Someone experiencing PTSD develops, and re-experiences, disabling symptoms which may be either psychological or physical.


1. I experienced a traumatic event that involved actual or threatened death, serious injury, or threat to physical integrity of myself or others.

Y N
2. My response involved intense fear, helplessness and horror.

Y N
3. I have repetitive, distressing thoughts about the event.  

Y N
4. I have nightmares about the event.

Y N
5. I often feel as if the event were actually happening again.

Y N
6. I have extreme physical or psychological distress when exposed to anything that resembles the traumatic event.

Y N
7. I avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event.

Y N
8. I avoid activities, people, and places that remind me of the event.

Y N
9. I am unable to remember certain aspects of the traumatic event.

Y N
10. I feel detached or cut off from others.

Y N
11. I feel disconnected from my feelings.

Y N
12. I no longer enjoy doing things that I used to.

Y N
13. It is hard for me to envision any future life.

Y N
14. I have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Y N
15. I am irritable and have outbursts of anger.

Y N
16. I have difficulty concentrating.

Y N
17. I am increasingly anxious.

Y N
18. I startle very easily.

Y N
19. I have experienced these symptoms for more than 1 month.

Y N
20. My symptoms disrupt my daily functioning.

Y N

 

If you answered YES to questions 1 and 2, YES to at least one of questions 2 – 6, YES to at least three of questions 7 – 13, and YES to at least two of questions 14 – 18, and YES to questions 19 and 20, you are likely experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Acute Stress Disorder:

Essentially, Acute Stress Disorder carries the same assessment criteria as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, unlike Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms that occur for at least one month; Acute Stress Disorder symptoms occur between two days and four weeks.  If initially diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder and symptoms exceed four weeks; diagnosis should be changed to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very much like it sounds; there are no specific panic attacks, phobias, obsessions, acute or post-traumatic stress disorders.  Worry is generally focused on a number of events, such as school or work.  This disorder may be viewed as a genuine excess of pure worry, to the point of daily functioning being disrupted.


1. I have excessive worry, for at least 6 months, about a number of events.

Y N
2. I have great difficulty controlling my worry.

Y N
3. At least 3 of the following 6 symptoms are associated with my worry:

  • I am restless or on edge.                               Y N
  • I am fatigue easily.                                         Y N
  • I have difficulty concentrating.                   Y N
  • I am irritable.                                                   Y N
  • I have muscle tension.                                   Y N
  • I have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Y N

4. My worry is disruptive to my daily functioning.

Y N
5. There is no explanation for my worry.

Y N

 

If you answered YES to question 1, 2, 4 and 5, and YES to at least three symptoms of question 3, you are likely experiencing a Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  


Empowered Life Solutions Anxiety self-assessments are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Empowered Life Solutions.com does not offer or give medical advice, provide medical or diagnostic services.  Instead, the content is intended to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your physician, and/or mental health professional.  You should not act upon this information without seeking professional advice and counsel.

 

Accessing Empowered Life Solutions curriculum and premium content will provide you with a variety of options that will help you better understand your anxiety and how to manage it.  Also included is a basic explanation of some possible treatment options, all of which are known to licensed mental health professionals.


Treatment Options:

  • Relaxation Exercises includes breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as exercise; these activities will help to decrease the physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Desensitization includes intentional exposure to body stimuli that cause anxiety; for instance, intentionally increasing heart rate to learn what this feels like and how to deal with it.
  • Exposure includes intentional, incremental exposure to stimuli that cause cognitive distress; for instance, gradually getting closer to spiders to confront irrational thinking that all spiders attack, etcetera.
  • Cognitive Therapy will address how to identify, confront, and change irrational thinking to rational thinking.
  • Medication is to be prescribed only by a licensed physician or other professional, and used as directed.
  • Distraction is averting one’s focus to non-anxiety inducing activities, such as music or writing.
  • Practicing Presence is observing what is going on in your mind, at any given moment, without passing any judgment.
  • Lifestyle Changes include exercise, stress management, mending poor relationships, transforming attitudes, excreta.
  • Group Therapy provides support, validation, and different perspectives for your situation.
  • A licensed mental health professional can assist you in utilizing these treatment options in order to overcome your anxiety.


References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th ed.). Washington D.C: American Psychiatric Publishing.