Anxiety—it sounds so benign. Everyone gets nervous from time to time. In fact, anxiety is a normal part of life. But there’s also a lesser known, darker side to anxiety. The disorders caused by anxiety affect over 40 million people each year, says Mental Health America. This debilitating psychological problem is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States.
Mental health agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health, identify five of the most common anxiety disorders that can leave individuals with symptoms as varied as heart palpitations, abdominal pain and intense preoccupation with death and dying. Some of the most common disorders include: Panic Disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Social Phobia Post Traumatic Stress Disorder General Anxiety Disorder
If you often feel nervous going into ordinary situations or suddenly feel fearful, dizzy or out of the breath, it’s possible you could be having panic attacks. The signs of a panic disorder manifest as an unexpected feelings of terror for no valid reason. An individual will experience several unpleasant symptoms like rapid pulse, irritability, and even a fear of dying.
If you have an insatiable need to do repetitive behaviors like washing your hands several dozen times a day, switching on and off appliances, lights or faucets, even hoarding any number of objects, you could be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These strange symptoms are triggered by a person’s need to control their anxiety. Sufferers of OCD are known to isolate themselves, make mounting, impossible demands on the people around them and even cause self-harm when involved in a ritualistic behavior.
Cutting Off Contact
Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, an individual will have irrational fears that can be limited to one type of situation like public speaking or eating in front of others, to such a broad range of fears that the person feels compelled to blockade herself in the home, and most extremely, to one room.
It’s not unusual to have a scary dream from time to time, but if you have terrifying dreams or daytime flashbacks, you could be showing signs of post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD has become more known in recent years due to the increasing numbers of soldiers returning from war with this diagnosis. Symptoms occur after an individual experiences a life-altering, traumatic event. Anything from childhood abuse, natural disasters to a sexual attack can trigger this illness. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks and intense anger.
Fatigue and Headaches
A variety of symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, headaches and nausea may sound like any number of illnesses. Some people may be surprised to learn that these are also symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Sufferers may resist relationships, lose jobs, or mistreat friends and family because of their inability to control emotions and consequential behaviors. This disorder is diagnosed after a person exhibits symptoms for about six consecutive months.