Anxiety is they physical response a person experiences to a threat or perceived threat. This response is sometimes colloquially referred to as an anxiety attack and may consist of a rapid heart rate, trembling hands, rapid breathing or a sudden burst of energy. It is normal for everyone to experience anxiety occasionally. Sometimes however people experience anxiety or fear consistently in a way that begins to affect their ability to cope with everyday life. They may also experience a feeling of anxiety or worry for no particular reason. This may be caused be anxiety disorder.


Types of Anxiety Disorder

  • Generalised anxiety is frequent and excessive worry over a range of everyday, ordinary everyday things such as work, finances or health.  
  • Social anxiety disorder is the consistent worrying about or avoidance of everyday social situations due to a fear of being embarrassed, humiliated or rejected.
  • Panic disorder is where a person frequently experiences panic attacks which are sudden intense episodes of irrational fear alongside physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, chest pain, dizziness, shaking and confusion. You may also have panic disorder if you have a persistent fear of having a panic attack.
  • Specific phobias are the irrational fear of a specific situation or thing such as flying, injections or animals.


Other types of anxiety also exist such as separation anxiety and selective mutism but they aren’t as common. The symptoms and treatment of these disorders is similar and so if the rest of the description on anxiety disorder sounds familiar please do consult a GP or mental health professional.  

OCD and PTSD are also linked to anxiety disorder but have a basis or present themselves in a way that makes them markedly different and as such are discussed individually elsewhere on the Inner Psych website.  


Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

  • A frequent feeling of worry, anxiety or fear 
  • Worry or anxiety that isn’t always connected to a specific cause 
  • Physical symptoms such as trembling hands, a rapid heart rate or shortness of breath
  • Avoidance of stressful situations
  • Loss of concentration or inability to carry out ordinary tasks in day to day life


Causes of Anxiety Disorder

The causes of anxiety aren’t well understood but it is generally accepted that a wide range of factors influence whether or not a person is likely to develop anxiety.

Risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder include:

  • Genetic factors. You may be more likely to experience anxiety disorder if a family history exists.
  • Personality type. People who are perfectionists have low self-esteem, always feel the need to be in control or are shy are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
  • Experiencing stressful events over the long term. This may be a change in living arrangements, the breakdown of a relationship, pregnancy or childbirth, the loss of a loved one, stress at work or another event that is causing you ongoing worry. 
  • Having an ongoing chronic physical health issue such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
  • Having another mental health condition. 
  • Suffering from or having suffered from any kind of abuse such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
  • Substance abuse, particularly of alcohol, cannabis, other sedatives and amphetamines. 


Diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder can be diagnosed by a trained GP or mental health professional. Typically a detailed questionnaire will be used to understand things such as the frequency and severity of symptoms, triggers, personal and family history of mental health disorders and how your symptoms are impacting on your everyday life. The diagnosis provided will then be based on a recognised manual such as DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).


Treating Anxiety Disorder

Several different treatments exist for anxiety disorders and the type of treatment appropriate may vary from person to person, the type of anxiety disorder and the severity of the diagnosis. Treatment may include:

  • Psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or behavioural therapy 
  • Medication. This is typically only used in severe cases where other treatments alone are not effective.
  • Behavioural changes such as exercising regularly, eating healthily, reducing caffeine intake and practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and meditation.
  • Online support tools which you work through individually but use similar techniques as those taught in psychological therapy. They can be delivered online, via phone applications, through instant messaging or talking on the phone.

Recovering from anxiety takes time and support. If you feel you may be suffering from anxiety or are in need of a mental health professional to assist in your treatment give us a call at Inner Psych today. Our professionals are able to provide a comprehensive online assessment of your condition and personalise an ongoing treatment to help you take back control of your life.

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