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Do you always have overwhelming fear and worry? Are you unable to carry on with your life because of anxiety? Have you had a traumatic experience in the past you keep relieving? Have you started to experience unexplainable fear and worry about a person, place or situation? These are all signs of anxiety, but they could also point to a much larger problem which is Anxiety Disorder. Do you want to understand what is happening to you? Stay with us to the end.

If you are here because you or someone close to you experiences recurrent anxiety, kindly get in touch with us on 0203 955 7700. Our specialists are ready to help.

What Is Anxiety?

As humans, we all feel a certain level of anxiety every day of our lives. We get excited, worried, happy, sad, nervous, unease, or overwhelmed with emotions all the time. Sometimes we tend to control them, but sometimes we just can’t, which leads to what we technically refer to as anxiety.

An American psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at Boston University, David Barlow, defines anxiety as “a future-oriented mood state in which one is not ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events”. It’s more like the brain identifies a threat, it alerts the body, and then the body reacts.

The fact that everyone does experience anxiety does not mean everyone experiences it the same way. Some experience it much more intensely than others which is what we consider anxiety disorder. This is characterised by constant overwhelming worry and fear. It can make an individual avoid work, school or other forms of social situations as a whole, mainly if the anxiety triggers are found in those settings or worsened by them.

The World Health Organisation states that there are about 322 million people across the world live with anxiety. In 2013 alone, there were about 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK. The weekly prevalence of anxiety in the UK is 6.6% which means that out of 100 individuals, at least six are struggling with anxiety.

Some people are more susceptible, such as women who tend to suffer from anxiety more than men. In the UK, it’s believed that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men. Young individuals are also more prone to anxiety than older ones. Although fewer individuals suffer from anxiety due to genes or history in the family, it is a possibility.

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What Causes Anxiety?

A significant event or a buildup of more minor stressful situations can cause anxiety. For instance, the loss of a loved one, having many jobs to deal with, being yelled at, or even taking a test can trigger it – Anything at all can cause anxiety. The moment anxiety kicks in is called an anxiety attack. During an anxiety attack, the brain is in a flight mood, running a thousand miles per hour for fear of an impending danger that might not even be present.

It is impractical to list a couple of things that can cause anxiety as anything, and potentially all things are capable of causing anxiety depending on the individual involved.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety for a normal person might start due to something occurring in their day and quickly die off once that situation has changed or ended or the individual has gained mastery over; that is not the case when an anxiety disorder is in the picture. It is more than just worrying or being overwhelmed by emotions and does not just stop. It is typically characterised by excessive fear, which is constant and prevalent over a long period.

It may be defined as a mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are so strong enough they interfere with one’s daily activities. It is a mental illness. It goes a long way to interrupt an individual’s social and personal life, where they might feel powerless against it and be unable to control it on their own. Some will need medications or therapy to manage them. It is also known to be the most common mental illness in Europe.

What Are The Major Types Of Anxiety Disorder?

There are various types of anxiety disorders. According to the World Health Organisation, one out of thirteen people suffers from an anxiety disorder. Some major types of anxiety disorders are;

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This disorder is like the regular worry we feel every day, except it is more intense and usually over minor issues. This intense feeling of unease can go on for months. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a person is diagnosed with GAD when they have had this uncontrolled feeling of worry for over six months. Some symptoms in this type of anxiety are:

  • Having trouble concentrating as a result of thinking and worrying over a particular thing constantly.
  • Feeling restless and on edge all the time.
  • Feeling drained or exhausted.

Panic Disorder

This disorder is characterised by recurrent panic attacks. It is a sudden episode of intense fear coupled with physical reactions such as hyperventilation and nausea. Such episodes might occur anytime and frequently. Sometimes, panic attacks may feel like death is near, but that’s not the case in reality. Panic attacks cannot directly kill a person. Instead, it is mental distress over something and, in some situations, nothing at all. Some physical symptoms include:

  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Feeling dizzy and nauseous
  • Feeling numb or weak
  • Having chest or stomach pains

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In this case, it is a result of a traumatic experience or event. For example, it could be abuse, a loud bang, etc. Unlike some people who can get over certain situations and move on, people with PTSD cannot. Seeing a person, place, or situation similar to their traumatic experience can trigger it, even simply talking about it. PTSD usually affects them physically and emotionally. Some signs of PTSD are as follows:

  • Being triggered by familiar situations
  • A feeling of reliving the moment, which is similar to the past experience.
  • Having flashbacks or recurring dreams.
  • Detaching from people to avoid triggers.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This type of anxiety has to do with socialisation. People with this type of anxiety find it difficult to interact with people or be surrounded by people. As a result, they feel very insecure and unsafe leading to them being introverted and reclusive. Such people think overly conscious and fear embarrassing themselves in public or offending someone with their presence. Some symptoms of this disorder are:

  • Fear of meeting new people
  • Being uncomfortable in social situations.
  • Self-consciousness when attention is directed to you.
  • Severe fear of public speaking.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

This disorder results from an intensive thought process that leads to repetitive behaviours. As the name goes;

Obsessive – This is thought-based and characterised by being preoccupied with thoughts about something, someone, or a situation.

Compulsive -This is behavioural and characterised by the need to do or something so badly.

Being a disorder makes it clear that it characterises thoughts and behaviours that are out of the ordinary. For example, some being conscious of germs is not a bad trait, but someone with OCD can become so conscious of germs that they might have to wash his hands multiple times to feel safe.

As harmless as that might seem initially, it can get to the extreme where the individual cannot function properly until they do it. It’s just like drug addiction. They get so addicted to having things look and go a certain way that they lose their cool if the slightest mistake is made. Some symptoms include:

  • Obsessing over things.
  • Wanting things to go in a specific way.
  • Inability to go through with said actions can lead to a mental breakdown such as getting extremely angry, crying, feeling anxious, etc.


It is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to have an irrational fear of something or a situation. Example hemophobia – the fear of blood, acrophobia- fear of heights, etc. All these phobias result in anxiety attacks. Although phobias seem harmless, you cannot have anxiety if you are not faced with the object or circumstance of fear. However, this is considered an anxiety disorder because it can sometimes affect and interrupt one’s life if exposed. Some symptoms are:

  • Excessive and constant fear of a particular object or situation.
  • Taking extreme precautions to avoid things or situations.
  • Hyperventilation and nausea
  • Chest or stomach pains, etc.

What Are The General Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?

Although each type of anxiety might have some specific symptoms and differ from person to person, some anxiety symptoms can be accepted as general symptoms. Some of these include:

Having the sudden occurrence of the symptoms mentioned above in a situation does not necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. Usually, these symptoms may last for minutes and keep escalating as time goes by if not controlled. Others also start to show minor symptoms for days until it builds up and becomes overwhelming. So do not be quick to link any of these symptoms to an anxiety disorder. And do not by any means diagnose yourself with an anxiety disorder. Instead, let a mental health specialist examine you first.

If you do experience any of the symptoms mentioned, kindly contact us on 0203 955 7700. We have specialists that are ready to help.

Difference between Regular Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder

As stated previously, anxiety is part of our daily life that can be controlled without treatment and can be lived with. However, the disorder interferes with our daily activities. For instance: Feeling shy or embarrassed in public is logical, but avoiding public scenes for fear of embarrassing yourself is an anxiety disorder.

Having a realistic fear of objects of persons, places, or things that can harm you. Still, an anxiety disorder is an irrational fear and total avoidance of a person, place, or situation that is not necessarily harmful. Fear or sadness after a traumatic experience is normal, but having recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or uncontrol emotional outrages after a traumatic event could be an anxiety disorder.

The list can go on and on. However, it must be noted that whilst general anxiety is tolerable and can be handled by the person experiencing it, an anxiety disorder is much severe and might require external help and even therapy to overcome; it becomes severe to the extent that an individual may be incapable of living their everyday life.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be treated through therapy and medications. Each of the various types of anxiety does have multiple medications and treatments. It is best to see a doctor or mental health specialist for a diagnosis. After a diagnosis has been made, the best form of treatment will be designed for you.

Seeing a doctor is also crucial as it helps to ensure there is no physical damage to the brain or individual that might be responsible for the symptoms being observed.

Nonetheless, Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular ways to deal with anxiety disorder. This is a form of treatment that focuses on restructuring thoughts which are helpful for anxiety disorders. Support groups have been found to help as well.

Treatments, when judiciously followed, can help control and manage the disorder.

What Else Can You Do?

In dealing with anxiety, aside from the medication and treatment, you can take other steps to handle the anxiety you are experiencing. Some of these include:

These might not seem like much, but they have a long-term effect on you.

Just to make sure you haven’t forgotten, you can contact us on 0203 955 7700 for assistance if you identify with any of the conditions described. We have specialists that are ready to help.

Our compassionate rehab experts are ready to provide the support you need. Don’t wait, make the call today.

0203 955 7700

Bonus: The 333 Rule

You can also use the various practices of mindfulness to manage anxiety. A common one is the 333 technique. It is a simple mental exercise used to control an anxiety attack. This mental exercise is used to centre your mind to be present and aware of your surrounding, distracting it from flight mode due to the panic.

  • Firstly, you name three things you hear.
  • Secondly, you look around you and name three things you see.
  • Lastly, you move three of your body parts.

Meta description

Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at Boston University, David Barlow, defines anxiety as “a future-oriented mood state in which one is not ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events.” Everyone encounters anxiety in life and overcome it. However, anxiety disorder is an entirely different ballpark. It is far more challenging and shouldn’t be ignored.

Frequently asked questions

Not exactly. As far as there is worry and fear, there will be anxiety. We cannot stop humans from worrying or fearing, but we can control and manage it to prevent it from getting out of hand through the proper medications and treatments.
No, but we can reduce the risk of it. Some lifestyle decisions can help reduce the prevalence of anxiety, such as having enough rest, eating healthy meals, avoiding alcohol, and reducing caffeine intake.
As long as you are getting the proper treatment, the anxiety disorder can be managed to live everyday life. However, if you need help, kindly call 0203 955 7700 for assistance.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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