One of the most powerful ways to combat symptoms of anxiety, in whatever way you may experience it--is to understand it, give it a name, and identify what may trigger an attack. Depending on the severity of your anxiety and the impact it has on your daily life, you may want to seek a professional diagnosis and long-term treatment.
However, most forms of anxiety aren’t crippling and can be managed with tools like breath-work, HeyLuna rings, meditation, and therapy. Not to mention, anxiety is incredibly common with more than 40 million Americans and 1 in7 Australians living with one of the following anxiety conditions. In today’s post, I wanted to briefly define the most common 6 types of anxiety for you to understand which you may identify with and common coping mechanisms for each.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterised by chronic anxiety. Someone with GAD experienced low to high-grade anxiety most days. The anxiety can be triggered by stress like an exam, a hard day at work, or relationship issues. However, generalised anxiety doesn’t require a specific event or trigger and may consist of exaggerated worry or tension.
Many people live with high-functioning generalised anxiety disorder, most don’t even realise it. Sometimes it’s only when they have found a way to release daily anxiety do they realise they’ve been living on the edge.
Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety characterised by sudden uncontrollable feelings of anxiety. Episodes are unexpected and intense and often have no specific trigger. Physical symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, and dizziness may occur during a panic attack.
Panic disorder and attacks are intrusive and can severely limit one’s quality of life. A panic attack can occur as a random event but when attacks persist or occur once or more a month, it is referred to as a panic disorder.
Phobia Triggered Anxiety
Elevators, airlines, and vegetables can all trigger phobia-derived anxiety. These incidents and feelings are exclusive to the phobia trigger. Once the phobia is discovered, one might go to great lengths to avoid it and even become anxious by the thought of it. Phobias that are unavoidable are likely to cause an anxiety attack. Rapid stress management techniques (RSMT) and gradual exposure are effective ways to alleviate phobia-triggered anxiety.
Unlike other forms of anxiety, phobia-triggered reactions can be anticipated. Not that is makes it any easier or harder to cope with, but there is a level of anticipation that may not come with other forms of anxiety.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Like other types of anxiety, PTSD can be experienced on a spectrum, though the spectrum may be more expansive than the others. Veterans and military personnel are often referenced in conversation on PTSD, as they can experience crippling symptoms that make it hard to function in life as a civilian. However less common, leaving an abusive relationship, children raised in chaotic homes, and even toxic work environments can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In some cases, PTSD can trigger other forms of anxiety including phobia [trauma caused by turbulence can create a phobia of flying], social anxiety, or panic disorder [outside stimulus can trigger an attack]. Common causes of PTSD include violent physical or emotional assault that has been experienced or witnessed, human-caused or natural disasters, combat, and accidents.
The severity of PTSD often requires treating symptoms moment to moment along with a long-term care plan. Symptoms include an intensely physical, psychological, and emotional reaction to a trigger, flashbacks that can occur awake or asleep, avoidance of anything related to the trigger, blackouts, and dissociation. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms are chronic and last more than a few months.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is often used in passing for the friend who keeps her pantry freakishly organised. However, for those who experience this type of anxiety, it can become physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting and cause them to lose precious time due to stimulating ticks and rituals.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a type of anxiety that is characterised by “recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.” (hhs.gov)
Treating OCD usually requires a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy alongside exposure and response prevention or ways to interrupt the repeated behaviour, thoughts, and feelings attached to them.
Social anxiety is a special kind of sinister. It can cripple someone to the core because it limits what we’re meant to do as a species--socialise. Also referred to as Social Phobia, this type of anxiety is characterised by a sense of overwhelm and excessive self-awareness when in a social setting. A social setting can be defined as anything from interacting with a cashier to speaking on stage, to daily interaction at the workplace. In its most severe form, social anxiety is experienced whenever someone is around others.
Social anxiety may be the type of anxiety most people suffer from in silence and it hit particularly close to home. My friends and I rely on our Hey Luna rings to pull through team meetings, important group calls, presentations, and other situations that make us particularly vulnerable in front of others. By redirecting that excess anxious energy to spinning the rings, I’m able to focus on the task at hand and feel empowered and present.
Coping With Anxiety
There is a form of therapy for each type of anxiety, some of which are overlapping treatments. Beyond that, there are ways to integrate practice yourself including:
- Creating routines
- Identifying and understanding your triggers
- Adding natural supplements to your diet (ashwagandha, Kava, etc.)
- Mindful meditation & breathing practices
- Rapid stress management with a ring
Another thing to keep in mind is to prepare an aftercare routine to tend to yourself post-anxiety. If you’ve had an attack or bad day--go easy on yourself. Create and define a self-soothing plan that will get you back on your feet.
Anxiety is now a large part of who we’ve become, but it can be used to create self-awareness and doesn’t have to be a stumbling block in your life. When it comes to anxiety, we’re in this together.