Anxiety has a signal function and is a reaction of your body to prepare itself in dangerous situations. Your heart rate and breathing goes faster, your blood pressure goes up and your muscles tighten: your body is ready for action. There are three reactions to anxiety: fighting, running and freezing.
Does fear hinder your life?
In theory anxiety is a useful mechanism – it only becomes a problem if the anxiety mechanism is set too sharp for a long time and the alarm goes off faster than necessary or goes off in situations in which the average person is not afraid. You are already on the alert if you only think of potentially dangerous situations and that is very difficult. An anxiety disorder is more than being annoyed by something from time to time. An anxiety disorder hinders your life.
Different types of anxiety disorders
Social Anxiety Disorder
A social anxiety disorder is also called a social phobia. If you are very concerned with what other people think of you, if you are very afraid of the reaction or criticism of others, you may have a social anxiety disorder. You are afraid that others will find you strange or that you will make a fool of yourself.
Think of the fear of a critical or negative assessment, the fear of showing strange behavior (blushing, stuttering, shaking, sweating), of blundering, of not being liked or the fear of giving a presentation to a group of people. Because of your fear you will avoid these difficult situations.
Read more about the characteristics, symptoms and consequences of a social anxiety disorder, and how we can help you with your feelings of anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. You worry about things that could happen and you expect the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for your concern. You expect a disaster and you worry too much about your personal health, work, money, friends or family. You find it difficult to manage your worries.
Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day causes anxiety. People with generalized anxiety disorder don’t know how to break the worry cycle and feel out of control, even though they usually realize their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent reason. Panic attacks can be very scary. When panic attacks occur, you may think you are losing control, having a heart attack, or even think you are dying.
Many people have only one or two panic attacks in their lifetime, and the problem goes away, usually when a stressful situation ends. But if you have recurring, unexpected panic attacks and live long periods of time in constant fear of another attack, you may have a panic disorder.
Please read our Panic attacks treatment page if you would like to know how we can help you with your feelings of panic.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder
During an anxiety attack you may suffer from heart palpitations, sweating, chills, dizziness, trembling, anguish, tingling in the hands, stomach pain, headache, confusion or the feeling that you lose self-control.
Besides the anxiety attacks you can have a combination of the following symptoms:
- worry a lot,
- concentration problems,
- muscle problems,
- sleep problems.
Consequences of an anxiety disorder
If you have an anxiety disorder, it usually has huge consequences. You are often unable to do your job well, build a social life, travel or maintain stable relationships. You put a lot of effort into avoiding certain people, places or activities. Such as driving, flying or taking the elevator. Or you cannot stand crowds, social occasions, open spaces or the slightest bit of dirt.
It is understandable that you have the tendency to avoid unpleasant feelings, such as fear. Running is a natural tendency for danger, but if you run for situations or places that are not dangerous such as the street, low altitudes, elevators, animals or your own thoughts and feelings, it is a major obstacle in your daily life. You can no longer leave the house and you can be lonely. See also Phobia.
Treatment of anxiety disorder
An anxiety disorder can be treated well. To begin with, we investigate what kind of fear controls your life. Depending on this, we propose a treatment that consists of:
- finding the cause of the fear,
- linking this fear to possible events,
- reducing possible chronic overload.
We work with behavioral therapy. We teach you how to recognize physical reactions. And how you can influence those reactions with breathing exercises and other exercises. Depending on your situation, we break through certain patterns, such as avoidance, drinking behavior, escape behavior, use of medicines or hard work.
The treatment reduces anxiety, physical problems and worries and improves sleep. Avoidance behavior also decreases.
Please read our Anxiety disorder treatment page if you would like to know how we can help you with your feelings of anxiety.
Contact Psychologen Amsterdam
Do you recognize your symptoms and do you need help or do you just have a question about the treatment of your anxiety disorder? Then call for an appointment or send a message to practice Psychologen Amsterdam.