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What is anxiety disorder?

Someone with anxiety has intense feelings of fear and distress preventing them from being able to do everyday tasks

By Amelia Alexander
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness. You have probably heard of anxiety or know somebody that has anxiety. Everyone feels anxious, especially during stressful situations, but what is the distinction between having anxiety and not having anxiety?  

Somebody with anxiety has intense feelings of fear and distress preventing them from being able to do everyday tasks. People without anxiety only feel this way when they are in a particularly stressful situation.  

Symptoms of anxiety include: 
Feeling intense dread or distress 
Feeling restless/jumpy 
Feeling tense 
Being irritable 
Anticipating the worst-case scenario often 
Racing heart/shortness of breath 
Sweating, tremors, or twitches 
Headaches, fatigue, or insomnia 
Upset stomach/headaches 
Desire to control people/events 
Intolerance of uncertainty 
Having high expectations of self (in work/sports/school) 
Crying/ difficulty controlling emotions 
Difficulty focusing/paying attention 

What causes anxiety? 
There are two causes of anxiety: genetics and environmental factors. Genetics are uncontrollable. Certain genetics can make you more prone to having an anxiety disorder. Traumatic environmental factors can also cause anxiety. This could be abuse, death of a loved one, or a prolonged illness.  

Several types of anxiety disorders 
There are various types of anxiety disorders, some of the most common include the following:  

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)  
GAD causes someone to feel extreme worry about daily tasks. Because this worry can consume hours of each day, people with GAD can feel exhausted. People with GAD have trouble finishing or focusing on typical tasks. People with this disorder also experience nausea and headaches.  

Social anxiety disorder 
This disorder causes people to feel intense dread of social situations. People with social anxiety disorder often withdraw from social situations and do not take part in conversation. People who have this disorder often experience panic attacks as a reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction. 

Panic disorder 
People who have this disorder have panic attacks and often experience sudden feelings of terror. Many people with this disorder go to desperate measures to avoid having a panic attack, such as social isolation. These attacks make people feel chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, shortness of breath, and an upset stomach.  

Maybe you’re thinking, “oh I have this, I’m afraid of spiders.” and maybe you do have a phobia of spiders. For someone with a phobia, certain places, events, or objects create powerful reactions and feelings of extreme, irrational fear. People with phobias often have certain “triggers” that precipitate such reactions.  

People with agoraphobia fear and avoid places and situations that cause them to feel panicked. Trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. This disorder is typically developed after having several panic attacks. People with agoraphobia often struggle especially in public places.  

Substance/Medicine induced anxiety disorder  
This disorder presents itself when people have panic attacks that are caused by alcohol, drugs, or medications. Metals and toxins can panic or anxiety symptoms.   

Supporting people with anxiety 
Check in with your friends  
Learn about what disorder they are dealing with 
Remember that people need reassurance  
Don’t contribute to the stigma 

General advice when it comes to suicide prevention and mental health allyship: 
• being kind is the best suicide prevention that a single person can do.