Living in this modern world provides daily situations that can provoke intense stress and anxiety. When anxiety symptoms get the best of us, they result in impairment and isolation. Isolation is the natural result of having experienced anxiety triggers and then doing whatever it takes to avoid the situations, people, or places that may spark anxiety in the future.
What Is Anxiety Disorder?
About 20% of U.S. adults struggle with some form of anxiety disorder. The physical experience of anxiety is called the fight or flight response, which is built into our DNA as a response to encountering something that we perceive as dangerous or threatening.
The chemical response to fear prompts the production of stress hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. When someone has an anxiety disorder, they experience the fight or flight response, and the rush of stress hormones, during their daily life as a reaction to triggers.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
There are multiple subtypes of anxiety. The spectrum of anxiety disorders includes:
- Generalized anxiety disorder. This is the most common type of anxiety and features irrational fear and worry that disrupts daily functioning.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. This type of anxiety features patterns of obsessive fears and the compulsive behaviors that follow that help manage the fear.
- Panic disorder. The most prominent feature are random panic attacks, which mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. This type of disorder is diagnosed when the person cannot process a traumatic experience in the usual time period. When symptoms persist for more than one month, it is PTSD.
- Social anxiety disorder. When anxiety is associated with a deep fear of rejection or public humiliation within a social setting, it is a social anxiety disorder.
- Specific phobias. A phobia is an irrational fear of a situation, place, person, or object. Some examples are agoraphobia, a fear of heights, or a fear of spiders.
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