IT IS normal for a person to feel nervous, scared or anxious in many situations like taking an exam, going to a job interview or speaking in front of many people. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when one feels threatened, under pressure or is facing a stressful situation.
However, when one experiences frequent nervousness or anxiety or fear, it could affects one’s daily tasks. It could be a form of anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is a common mental disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel excessively frightened, distressed or uneasy during situations in which most other people would not experience these same feelings.
There are six common anxiety disorders:
1. Panic disorder – a person experiencing a panic disorder usually has “panic attacks.” Panic disorder results in sudden feelings of terror that can strike repeatedly and sometimes without warning. Physical symptoms of a panic attack include chest pain, heart palpitations, upset stomach, feelings of being disconnected and fear of dying.
2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – a person with OCD usually has a repetitive, intrusive, irrational and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or rituals that seem impossible to control (compulsions).
3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a person who has PTSD usually undergoes flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance and avoidance symptoms after exposure to a life-threatening event or events.
4. Phobia – a person with a phobia has a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation that results in a compelling desire to avoid it
5. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – a person with GAD usually experiences a severe, chronic, and exaggerated worrying about everyday events. This worrying lasts for at least six months, making it difficult to concentrate and to carry out routine activities, and happens for many hours each day in some people
6. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) – a person with SAD usually has an irrational fear of being humiliated in public for “saying something stupid” or “not knowing what to say.” There is an intense fear of social situations that may lead to having difficulties with personal relationships.
Let us be reminded that a mental illness is a medical condition, not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness.
Anxiety disorders are treatable. In many cases, a combination of psychotherapy and medications is beneficial. Please call the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) Bacolod at 433-8868 for the right treatment prescribed by a psychiatrist.