Anxiety disorder and how to identify it

Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. It’s a normal reaction to a situation where we feel under pressure, like when you need to meet a deadline or prepare for a big exam. Severe anxiety is more than just occasionally feeling stressed or worried. Here are some signs that you may have severe anxiety.

What is anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much. Some common symptoms of anxiety include:

• hot and cold flushes

• racing heart

• tightening of the chest

• snowballing worries

• obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour

What is severe anxiety?

Severe anxiety is the type of anxiety that is caused by fear or trauma. These anxious feelings can happen randomly or continue for longer periods after a stressful event has passed. Symptoms of severe anxiety may include increased heart rate, feelings of panic and withdrawal from all social interactions.

Anxiety disorder

This type of anxiety involves excessive fear or worrying about the future and can have negative effects on your health. The constant worry and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as restlessness, feeling on edge, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or problems sleeping.

Panic attacks

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there’s no real danger or apparent cause. It’s usually accompanied by sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or loss of control of bodily functions.

When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, or even having a heart attack. This can be very scary when it happens randomly, Choma. However, if it does happen to you, it’s important to do breathing exercises, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose and mouth and count each breath as you breathe in and out.

Post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD)

This type of anxiety is seen by the failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. This condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma. If you feel like you have PTSD, then it’s a good idea to see a healthcare practitioner so you can be diagnosed accurately and start on a path of treatment and healing. This may involve talk therapy, medication or a combination of both- depending on what works best for you. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive or repetitive behaviours. There are different types of OCD, which range from perfection, doubt/harm to forbidden thoughts. For example, someone who has perfection OCD may have a fear of disorder and have the urge to arrange objects in a specific manner. Symptoms usually begin gradually and vary throughout life unless treated.

If anxiety is preventing you from living a fulfilling life, it may be time to reach out for help. A healthcare provider will be able to diagnose and help you treat your anxiety. Mental Illness, in whatever form, should be taken seriously. If you or someone you know might be struggling with any of these types of anxiety, visit SADAG (The South African Depression Group).

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657.