Basics
June 17, 2020

Jem Fundano

What is Clinical Anxiety?

Photo by Jessica Radanavong on Unsplash

Clinical anxiety or anxiety disorders are a common struggle. Everyone feels anxious from time to time.

When there’s a threat recognized by your mind, you develop fear. Once fear is felt, anxiety becomes present. If a place is dangerous, you get anxious. If you see someone with a sharp object, you get anxious. Anxiety is normal and helpful to keep us aware and alert. But, if anxiety is prolonged, it becomes debilitating.

Clinical Anxiety or anxiety disorders feature fear and excessive anxiety that creates a disturbance in your perception, emotions, and behavior. You will feel on edge, sleepless, and on the verge of panic. This hampers your normal functioning and must be treated.

Related: Understanding Panic Attacks

Anxiety disorders differ from one another. It is classified differently because different objects and situations elicit different reactions.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Clinical anxiety or anxiety disorders are distinguished in different types. Those with clinical anxiety have different reactions and combinations of symptoms.

Although everyone's different, the following symptoms are common signs that show if someone has clinical anxiety or anxiety disorder:

  1. Restlessness that can cause sleepless nights
  2. Feelings of nervousness, panic, fear, and uneasiness
  3. Stressed and tense muscles
  4. Nausea or dizziness
  5. Being unable to calm down or hold still
  6. Sweaty and tingling sensations
  7. Rapid or irregular heartbeat

When you're experiencing these, it’s the ‘flight or fight’ response that is activated.

The 'fight or flight' response is influenced by the surge of norepinephrine in your brain. This makes you want to react if you feel anxious about your current situation. This causes you to fight back or avoid the situation, hence, the term 'fight or flight' response.

Distorted thoughts about reality is common with someone who has clinical anxiety. This is why that person meets every situation with fear or anxiety. The ‘flight or fight’ response is important but if it's prolonged and persistent, this becomes disruptive to the body and the mind.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Self-diagnosing should never be done. To the untrained eye, anxiety disorders or clinical anxiety are seen as having overlapping features with other mental disorders.

If you're struggling with symptoms and suspect you have clinical anxiety, don't stop there. Consulting mental health professionals should be the next step. Why? Because anxiety disorders have different types.

If you aren't able to figure out what you really are struggling with, it will become harder. Here are the types of anxiety disorders and their brief descriptions:

Separation Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder having excessive fear and anxiety towards losing a person that means a lot to them. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent and common in children and adolescents.

Selective Mutism

Being able to speak but consistently failing to, whenever speaking is demanded.

Specific Phobia

It’s a problem that shows marked fear about a specific object or situation which leads you to avoid it. If you are unable to avoid it, it creates excessive anxiety, panic attacks, or psychological distress.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

A disorder exhibiting extreme fear and anxiety towards situations where you can be exposed to criticism. Eating, having a conversation, public speaking, or meeting unfamiliar people are examples.

Panic Disorder

Having pervasive and recurrent panic attacks that create excessive worry. You also develop an avoidance of situations or events that might trigger such panic attacks.

Agoraphobia

A type of anxiety disorder that shows a marked fear or anxiety of using public transportation, going in open spaces, being in closed spaces, or being outside of the home, alone.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Excessive and uncontrolled anxiety and worrying about random events or activities in your life.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Clinical anxiety or anxiety disorders are debilitating. But, treatment is available and existing. Anxiety Disorders can be treated with different options like psychotherapy, medications, and establishing coping strategies.

An effective and most common type of psychotherapy if you’re diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Related: What Is CBT and Does It Work?

Remember that treatment takes time and the growth is still up to you. Acknowledging your weaknesses, understanding your triggers, and engaging in establishing healthy coping strategies with your therapist are ways to overcome clinical anxiety.

Today, you can take steps with your recovery. Consult a therapist and actively engage in treatment.

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