Welcome to the first step in understanding how anxiety can appear in a person’s life by learning the different types of anxiety. You are on your first step to recovery by acknowledging you have a problem. So let us get to it! It is helpful to learn about what you may be experiencing because knowledge is power.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY
When too much change or transition occurs in your life, and you feel out of control. This kind of anxiety causes us to feel like we are living in unpredictability. World-based anxiety has been common throughout the pandemic. For the past almost two years, it has been a time full of confusion and change. Most people have experienced this anxiety in the past two years. You have a sense that the world does not seem safe, and it is too scary. It can lead you to switch between anxiety and depression, which can feel like a cyclical circle of unfun feelings and despair.
Social sensory anxiety is the belief that people are overwhelming. A person who experiences this has difficulty reading social cues and is unaware of how others read them. These folks see people as unsafe because they can not understand people. They also become overwhelmed by being around many people because they feel unpredictable. Commonly this type of anxiety is experienced by neurodiverse folks.
Performance anxiety can lead a person to struggle with perfectionism. The person worries about complete work or incomplete work and its quality. Which can make it hard to finish things because things are not “good enough.” Procrastination is also a part of this cycle of performance anxiety and perfectionism. People may wait to complete these things because they are afraid of not doing it perfectly. Their avoidance leads to them waiting until the last minute. Recently the NY Times published an article about how procrastination is a form of self-harm.
Concept-based anxiety is when some aspects of learning are beyond a person’s understanding. The people who may be affected by this type of anxiety are the neurodiverse or those folks with learning disabilities. They do not comprehend the information presented to them, which makes them feel anxious about not grasping the concept. Sometimes these folks feel ashamed about not understanding. This can lead them to shut down or get defensive. There is nothing wrong with not understanding. It is important to ask when you do not understand. You deserve to get the help that you need.
ANXIETY-RELATED TO TRAUMA – ACUTE STRESS DISORDER + PTSD ( POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER) + CPTSD ( COMPLEX POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER)
Trauma-based anxiety occurs when a person experiences something that reminds their brain of a highly stressful experience. The new event triggers the person to have some symptoms: sense memories, emotions, unpleasant thoughts, nightmares, and physical reactions. This person tends to avoid stimuli that may trigger these memories. When they have an episode, they can feel like they are reliving the trauma. During this time, the person may have difficulty controlling their emotions, feeling angry and distrustful towards the world. The only way to stop the cycle of trauma is to learn about what your triggers are. Once you can identify your triggers, you can reprocess the story.
“Humans, as they evolved…had to worry, when compared to their earlier ancestors, both about evaluating others and about how others were evaluating them as potential collaborative partners (e.g., concern for their self-image)” – Dr. Michael Tomasello.
COMPELLING SOCIAL ANXIETY
Social anxiety causes a person to be worried about how people feel and think about them. Therefore, People with social anxiety do not want to meet new people. They believe that people do not like them. Which leads them to believe, that being social in groups is not for them. These folks think people are watching them and judging them. This leads them to isolate themselves, which makes them believe that they do not need to socialize. This is a learned response.
We need other people we are wired to interact with socially. Usually, folks with social anxiety have it because of experiences of being bullied by peers, family members, or family friends. People who have social anxiety have learned that people are not safe or trustworthy. It is important that these folks learn to socialize with people who are safe for them. They must learn to challenge their previous experiences and stop engaging with those who disrespect them.
UNWANTED THOUGHTS OR OBSESSIONS + REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS (OCD- OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER)
Feedback loops cause OCD in the brain of repetitive (usually) distressing thoughts and then repetitive behaviors when triggered and anxious. A person with OCD uses repetitive behaviors like checking things, cleaning hands, or other compulsions to self-soothe and distract from the anxiety of the distressing thoughts. These folks have experienced trauma. Their brain has used feedback loops to stop them from having to think about the trauma. Learning mindfulness and redirection of your thoughts can help OCD tremendously.
UNEXPECTED AND REPEATED EPISODES OF INTENSE FEAR ACCOMPANIED BY PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS (PANIC DISORDER)
Panic Disorder is an anxiety disorder that has unexpected and repeated episodes. Fear and physical symptoms are a part of this disorder. The physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or abdominal distress. Usually, an episode of these symptoms can be caused by feeling out of control, threatened, or overwhelming fear. People with panic disorder tend to over breath and hyperventilate. The way to stop a panic attack, the key is by slowing down the breath and taking longer exhales than inhales.
CHRONIC WORRY OR TENSION ABOUT MOST THINGS (GAD- GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about many things. In people with GAD tend to anticipate disaster in multiple areas of their life: ie. Work, money, family, or other vital things. They tend to feel keyed up and find it difficult to relax and carry tension in their bodies. These folks have difficulty controlling their worry. These folks tend to have repetitive thoughts like OCD. It is important for these people to learn to interrupt their repetitive thoughts with mindfulness.
SPECIFIC PHOBIA OF SOME OBJECT OR SITUATION
In specific phobia, a person has an intense fear of an object or a situation even when it poses little or no threat to them. Some of these include: A person who has a specific phobia may have a combination of panic disorder and a fear of something. Specific phobia is an unconditioned brain response with the volume too high. We all have unconditioned worries that are innate, hardwired, and this is how we have survived as a species. (Ruden, 2010)
Separation Anxiety occurs in both children and adults. Having anxiety about when a person you love leaves your sight, and you worry something terrible will happen to them. The person becomes so distressed that they can not focus on anything but the fear of the separation. These folks may be reluctant to go to school, work, or other places without the person or pet they are attached to. There is an excessive worry about being alone for these folks. They need to know where their spouse or loved ones are at all times. A person may have physical symptoms, including nausea, headache, and sore throat. When these symptoms persist into adulthood, a traumatic experience is a cause. This type of anxiety is yet another unconditioned fear stimulus (Ruden, 2010).
Congratulations on learning about different types of anxiety! What did you relate to? Are you interested in learning more about managing your stress + anxiety?
Check out my online group. Or check out a few of my other articles about anxiety here: