Feeling anxious about stressful events is a normal response, however when anxiety persists such that it impacts a client’s psychological and physiological wellbeing then its treatment is indicated. If anxiety affects everyday life, it is possible that it comes under the classification of an anxiety disorder.
There are numerous psychiatric and medical conditions which may mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder such as hyperthyroidism. It is, therefore, essential to consult with a GP or a Psychiatrist first.
What type of anxiety disorders are there?
There are several types of anxiety disorders. They are:
Phobia is about irrational fear of a situation, animal or object, which cannot be explained rationally to the sufferer.
A person with a phobia will be triggered by very specific situations or objects; such as spiders, heights, flying or crowded places, even when there is no. For example, you may know a spider isn’t poisonous or won’t bite you, but this still doesn’t reduce your anxiety. Likewise, you may know that it is safe to be out on a balcony in a high-rise block, yet, feeling terrified to go out on it or even enjoy the view from behind the windows inside the building.
Someone with a phobia will go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of their fear, causing major disruption to relationships and everyday life.
This is a marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking), and performing in front of the others (e.g., giving a speech). The person fears that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated (i.e., will be humiliating or embarrassing; will lead to rejection or offend others).
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD is a long-term condition which where a person feels anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. The strength of symptoms can vary.
To be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), a person must: excessively worry and be anxious about several different events or activities on more days than not for at least six months and find it difficult to control the worrying.
And have at least three of the following six symptoms associated with the anxiety on more days than not in the last six months: restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour are typical for this disorder. A person may, for example, have obsessive thoughts about being contaminated with germs or fear that you have forgotten to lock the door or turn off the oven. He/she may feel compelled to wash his/her hands, do things in a particular order or keep repeating what’s being done a certain number of times.
An obsession is a repetitive, involuntary, fearful thought about contamination, harming others, throwing things away, sexual thoughts or images deemed abhorrent, blasphemous thoughts, or an abnormal concern about order and symmetry or safety. A compulsion is a repetitive physical action or mental ritual that serves to reduce the obsession in the short term.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
People who have experienced or witnessed a very stressful traumatic or threatening event, e.g. war, serious accident, violent death or rape, may later develop post-traumatic stress disorder. A person is likely to experience flashbacks and intrusive memories.
Many have disturbed dreams about the event, and these are likely to trigger strong anxiety and feelings experienced during the actual event. Other symptoms include panic, depression, anger, irritability, and inability to concentrate and sleep problems.
Panic Disorder with or without agoraphobia
Panic disorder is the diagnosis given to someone who has had panic attacks for a period of 6 months or longer and describes the fear of having another one. There is constant anxiety about having another panic attack. It can be viewed as phobia of panic attacks.
Symptoms include: irregular, rapid heartbeat, perspiring, a sense of choking or shortness of breath, light-headedness, a sense of detachment, numbness/tingling, feeling that you will faint /have a heart attack/brain haemorrhage, Feeling that death is imminent, fear of going mad or losing control, feeling that you have lost control of bodily functions
Agoraphobia without a history of panic disorder
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong.
Many people assume that agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces but it’s more complex than this. A person with agoraphobia may be scared of: travelling on public transport, visiting a shopping centre and/or leaving home.
At CCBT we specialise in REBT. REBT is one of the main cognitive and behavioural therapies. It is a trans-diagnostic CBT model. There is considerable evidence to demonstrate REBT’s efficacy and/or effectiveness in dealing with a range of psychological problems. REBT is not only useful for clinical conditions such as anxiety disorders, but also an educational system with implications for nonclinical and subclinical populations.