What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a warning; the fear of what lies ahead or the anticipation that something dreadful is about to occur. Everyone gets anxious sometimes, but if fears and worries are so frequent that they interfere with your ability to relax and function, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety has many causes and explanations. It can have a psychological root; repressed anger, guilt over sexual feelings, fear of competition, or other unexpressed emotions or unconscious conflicts or fears can manifest by anxiety.

Sometimes separation or social anxiety sets in as a response when feeling insecure during childhood. When children feel worried about parental responses, are regularly criticized or shamed, or are not able to feel close to a parent, anxiety can set in later in life. Like depression, anxiety can have a biological root or learned by a child growing up in a household where a parent has anxiety. Often, anxiety is a manifestation of deeper thoughts and emotions which feel unable to be expressed; we repress what feels difficult or we experience with shame and guilt. Anxiety, in this sense, is a warning and line of defense agains what lies deeper.

Behavioral Conditions which Underlie Anxiety

Sometimes people manage their depression and/or anxiety through self-defeating or self-destructive behaviors. Eating Disorders, sexual addiction, compulsive shopping, workaholism, agoraphobia, are examples of ways in which people try to cope, distract, and soothe underlying depression and anxiety.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Everyone’s experience with anxiety is different but can include emotional and physical symptoms including:

  • Excessive worrying lasting six months or more
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension (particular head, neck jaw)
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent night time wakening
  • Regularly feeling fatigue
  • Irritability – like nerves are regularly on edge

What Types of Anxiety Disorders are There?

The most well-known kinds of anxiety disorder are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) characterized by intense and chronic worry which permeates life on a regular basis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, marked by both ritualized thinking and behaviors
  • Panic disorder with or without panic attacks
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from traumatic acute or chronic events at any time in the life cycle
  • Social Phobia and Separation Anxiety

Classification of Depression and Anxiety Disorders are tricky, but necessary so that people can understand them. Health Insurance Companies mandate that reimbursement for mental health treatment is dependent upon acceptable Diagnoses. However, diagnosing the type of Depression or Anxiety is not always simple, as symptoms and emotions change regularly for
individuals. Also, there is considerable overlap in diagnostic criteria among respective types of Anxiety or Depression. Sometimes Depression comes initially in the form of Anxiety. Therefore, time and careful attention, knowledge and flexibility need to permeate the treatment and that the therapist and patient work collaboratively in these efforts to properly diagnosis over time.