Many people consider anxiety disorders to be a flaw in their character, but they do not realise anxiety is a normal human experience; a trait our ancestors needed to survive. There is no actual ’cause’, it is an inherited trait that is a natural part of the human psyche thanks to evolution.
It’s important to remember that evolution doesn’t care whether we are happy individuals or not. Nor whether we are relaxed. It’s about survival and keeping the species going. To our ancestors, heights were a real danger, because they only came in the form of cliffs; spoiled food could be contaminated; it was risky to offend murderous strangers; you didn’t want to cross an open field where lions could see you, and you might avoid starving to death by saving some food for the winter. Our ancestors survived thanks to their neurosis. They survived because of their anxieties. Those who weren’t anxious enough thousands of years ago simply didn’t survive.
Today, we have the same responses, but they are triggered by mostly psychological events. We get stressed because of traffic jams, deadlines at work or money worries. Nevertheless, our body’s response to stress has remained the same. Our heart pounds away and we become jumpy because of the stress chemicals released into our body.
Anxiety can manifest itself in the form of 6 common disorders. The link to each one is listed below; please click the names in order to be re-directed to the relevant page.
This is probably the most well known anxiety disorder. With OCD, you will have recurring thoughts or images in your head that you find distressing. These can range from a fear of being contaminated, to disturbing violent or sexual thoughts. It may also manifest itself in the form of an overwhelming urge to perform certain actions (known as compulsions), such as checking the locks or washing your hands over and over again.
This disorder results in you worrying constantly about almost everything and anything. If you have GAD, your thoughts will likely be imagining every single possible negative consequence of doing something, and attempting to come up with ways to prevent them happening. A combination of OCD and GAD can be brutal; you can end up thinking distressing thoughts, and ruminating over them all day long.
SAD is essentially a fear of being judged by others, especially within social encounters. This can include parties, meetings, presentations or even just eating in public. Obsessive worrying over social interactions will be a regular occurrence in a SAD sufferer. Someone with SAD will often ruminate over social interactions after they have happened, thinking over everything they said in their head and wondering; “Did that come across the right way?”.
PTSD revolves around excessive fear, which is caused by being exposed to a threat or injury. Sufferers of PTSD often experience their traumas again in the form of flashbacks or nightmares, and will avoid situations that trigger disturbing memories. The types of events that can result in this disorder are; rape, physical violence, warfare.
If anxiety is affecting your ability to live your life the way you’d like to, it’s worth thinking about ways to help yourself, and what kind of treatments are available. That’s where Anxious Minds comes into it. We’re about empowering you to help yourself. Get started with us.