It's not uncommon to hear someone saying they struggle with anxiety, but do they all mean the same thing? Are they all experiencing the same fears or worries? Does it look the same for everyone?
The answer is no.
Anxiety is a big umbrella term that encompasses that feeling you have in your gut that things are gonna go badly. Definitely not a pleasant feeling! But just because you feel that way about certain things does not mean you'll experience that sense of worry about everything.
There are different types of anxieties (or anxiety disorders) out there.
What are the different types of anxieties?
As the name says, that type of anxiety is pretty general. This has to do with always anticipating that bad things will happen. You're always worried that things will go wrong.
Social Anxiety (also called social phobia)
Social anxiety has to do with the discomfort we feel around people. This could look like worrying too much about what others think of you, about how you look, or about how well you will perform in front of others.
Does anyone who gets panic attacks have panic disorder? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that it depends on other factors - not just the panic attack. What happens is that sometimes when a person gets a panic attack, they develop a fear of getting a panic attack again. Merely worrying about getting a panic attack or a glimpse of a sensation they experienced in a panic attack (like shortness of breath) become a trigger of another panic attack, over and over.
Phobias (technically "Specific Phobia")
That's an easy one you're probably familiar with. Specific phobias have to do with an intense fear of an object (like snakes, spiders, etc.) or a situation like (heights, injections, blood, etc.). Let's not confuse being afraid of any of those with having a phobia of it. Phobias often result in an extremely out of proportion reaction and can cause a disruption in social or professional functions.
People who struggle with agoraphobia generally fear being in a situation from which they would not be able to escape. To meet the criteria for agoraphobia, a person must experience exaggerated fear of at least two of the following:
Using public transportation (cars, buses, trains, planes);
Being in an open space (like a parking lot, a marketplace, bridges)
Being in an enclosed space (like cinemas, theatres, or shops)
Being in a crowded place (like concerts or in a queue)
Being out on the street alone (without a "safe person")
Stay tuned as we dig deeper into Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety disorders soon!
Does any of that sound familiar? Is it getting more and more exhausting having to deal with all those thoughts and worries?
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