Anxiety is one of the most common conditions when it comes to mental health and mental disorders. A survey in Europe showed that approximately 12% of the population will suffer from anxiety at some point in their life. There are different types of anxiety. But common for all of them is that anxiety affects the way we think, feel, our body sensation and our behavior.
When we talk about mental health and conditions, it is important we keep in mind to see it on a continuum going from a healthy point where you’re well functioning to the problem point, where you can still function but you begin to feel distressed and unable to cope, to the disorder point, where you’re malfunctioning, completely unable to cope and have a severe degree of symptoms.
When that is said, fear and anxiety are normal reactions to situations that seem dangerous or threatening to us. On a fundamental level our brain is trying to ensure our survival. Therefore anxiety and fear are important functions that warn us of dangers ahead.
Anxiety results in a range of adaptive or defensive behaviour, which are aimed at escaping from the source of danger. Predominantly it activated our sympathetic nervous system. This is the fight or flight response. And that is great if we really are in a dangerous situation.
But what is anxiety? Anxiety is characterized by experiencing an exaggerated level of fear and anxiety. It can turn into a condition, if the symptoms become so severe that your daily life is significantly inhibited or limited due to the anxiety. Meaning that it is preventing you from doing the things you were previously able to do or want to do to live the life you want to live. The level anxiety can become so severe that we are no longer able to complete or do the things we would like to in important life areas such as our personal life, family life, social life, educational life and career life.
As mentioned earlier there are different types of anxiety. The difference in these types of anxiety is in their focus. This means that there are different stimuli or situations that trigger the anxiety. For example, if the anxiety is geared towards a specific animal, it is probably a specific phobia. But if you more or less constantly feel anxious, worry more than usual and your body feels at unrest, it might be generalized anxiety instead.
There are other types of anxiety, and to list a few of the other ones from the ICD manual, we have panic disorder, social anxiety, separation anxiety, substance-induced anxiety and a few more. If you’re interested you can read more about the different types of anxiety.
- Generalized anxiety
- Panic attacks (panic disorder)
- Agoraphobia Specific phobia
- Social anxiety
- Separation anxiety
- Selective mutism
- Substance-induced anxiety (many different types, including alcohol, cannabis and caffeine)
If you experience anxiety preventing you from doing things you previously enjoyed or living the life you would like to, it’s very important that we seek help and support from a professional. It does not have to be that way forever. You can get help to manage and deal with your anxiety in a better way.
We believe that nobody should be alone in the midst of a tough time in their lives. Therefore we encourage you to speak up if you’re going through a difficult time in your life at the moment. We all do at some point in our lives.
Remember that you can find many resources on our website, and learn much more about mental health.