About Anxiety in Adults

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common emotion that is needed to survive and is experienced by all people. Other words used to describe the emotion include fear, shyness, worry, nerves, or stressed. People differ in the extent and degree to which they experience anxiety and in the types of situations that produce anxiety. When an individual experiences anxiety to such an extent that it reduces their enjoyment of life or impacts on their daily functioning, they may benefit from seeking help.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Prolonged or intense anxiety may lead to physical symptoms such as sweating, a racing or pounding heart, blushing, trembling, nausea, or feeling dizzy. Anxiety generally occurs as a response to a feared situation and is exacerbated by negative or fearful thoughts.

Types of Anxiety Problems

When people have a problem with anxiety, it commonly takes one of several main forms. Of course it is important to note that anxious individuals often experience more than one of these forms of anxiety.

Specific Phobias

A Specific Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder whereby a person experiences an extreme or irrational fear when directly confronted with a specific situation or object or in anticipation of the feared situation or object. Even though the situation or object poses little or no actual danger to the individual, they often cannot control their fear towards it and will actively avoid it at all costs. Although people with specific phobias recognise the irrationality of their fears, the thought of these fears alone is often enough to cause tremendous, debilitating anxiety. These irrational fears can therefore significantly interfere with functioning in one or more areas of life, including personal relationships, work, school and leisure activities.

Specific Phobias are commonly categorised into 5 types:

  • Animal Phobias (e.g., dogs, snakes, or spiders)
  • Natural Environment Phobias (e.g., heights, storms, water)
  • Blood-Injection-Injury Phobias (e.g., fear of seeing blood, receiving a blood test or injection, watching television shows that display medical procedures)
  • Situational Phobias (e.g., airplanes, elevators, driving, enclosed places)
  • Other Phobias (e.g., phobic avoidance of situations that may lead to choking, vomiting, or contracting an illness)

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