Clinical Anxiety Overview

Let’s have a few minutes of real talk, shall we?  Like – we all have some amount of anxiety.  Otherwise we’d be reckless, we would be too risky and nothing would get done. Anxiety helps us by making us study for tests, pay our bills on time and reminds us to take our birth control pills. A little anxiety is helpful and normal. 

Is anxiety getting in the way of your everyday life?

So what’s up with the diagnosis of “anxiety?”  Like doesn’t everyone have it? 

Well – let’s take a few minutes to explore clinical anxiety.  Clinical Anxiety is an overarching term that is used to describe lots of different types of anxiety.  That means multiple diagnoses all fall into the category of anxiety.  The common thread between all of these diagnoses is that normal everyday life and functioning are interrupted.  That might mean a person can’t grocery shop like everyone else.  That might mean that a person is unable to work like everyone else because of anxiety. Anxiety might make it so a person is unable to date or have romance in their life.  When everyday life is disrupted – this becomes clinical anxiety. 

General anxiety disorder, GAD: This is a long term diagnosis, it is given after 6 months of persistent, excessive worry.  It’s a generalized anxiety.  You might have panic attacks, a specific phobia or other types of anxiety coupled with GAD, or just an overall feeling of worry.  But just like the name implies, it’s a broad diagnosis, and it’s a great place to start when learning about anxiety disorders.

Panic Disorder:Panic disorder is the term given when people have panic attacks.  Its that easy.  They might have one or many types of anxiety, but to have panic disorder you must have panic attacks.  These are short (typically 10 -30 minutes) episodes of intense panic.  People feel like they’re having a heart attack, they get sweaty, feel doom or like they’re going to die.  Its extreme and awful for the people that suffer from these attacks.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD:is a two-part diagnosis – one is the patient has obsessions(really intrusive thoughts, fears and anxiety) and then behaviorsthat are compulsive (these neutralize anxiety).  This can be a really complicated diagnosis to understand so there’s actually coming up on just OCD.  

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):Is a type of anxiety disorder present after a patient experiences one or many traumatic events. The patient then will either relieve the trauma or go to great lengths to avoid stimuli that remind them of the trauma.  And remember, we learned that when everyday life is interrupted, this is problematic.  

Specific Phobia:That’s when you have an irrational fear of one object or situation.  Usually the patient knows its irrational but can’t help but feel intense anxiety.  

Social phobia: is the name given to phobias of social events, situations or performances.  Remember, clinical anxiety interrupts daily life, so a person with social phobia might often rearrange their day, their career and their life so as to avoid social interactions that evoke fear.  

And this short list isn’t comprehensive…there are even more specific types of anxiety.  But I wanted to touch on a lot of the big ones.  As I mentioned I will be having multiple blogs in the next few weeks about anxiety disorders – I think the blog about OCD is coming next. 

Just remember, when a person is unable to function in everyday life anxiety goes from a normal part of life to clinical anxiety.  How are you functioning?  Is anxiety getting in the way of parts of everyday life?  If you think you might have GAD take the GAD7 test (the test that diagnoses anxiety).  Click here to get a free copy of it. 

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