Anxiety is a broad and general term used to describe an emotional and physiological experience that can range from general nervousness to intense worry to panic attacks. There are many different kinds of anxieties and the type you have depends on exactly what triggers your anxiety as well as the specific symptoms you experience.
Social anxiety occurs when a person is overwhelmed by feelings of nervousness, worry, self-doubt and/or panic in response to social situations and sometimes even when just thinking about socialising. Someone with social anxiety tends to have great difficulty spending time with larger groups of people, meeting strangers, entering unfamiliar social situations, networking, speaking in public, promoting their work and speaking their mind. Often times, they try to cope by avoiding social situations altogether or by staying quiet when they must socialise. This can inadvertently impede career development and personal relationships. CBT and ACT are therapies that help a person overcome their social anxiety and feel confident.
Generalised anxiety occurs when a person experiences chronic and intense worry about things going wrong in their lives. It is usually triggered in response to stressful situations, general changes, big life events or when things simply aren't going to plan. For example, a person might intensely worry about potential difficulties, personal conflicts, last minute plans, work conflicts, unexpected changes, etc. Feelings of unease are normal in all of these situations but generalised anxiety is a more disruptive and distressing preoccupation with the potential for all things to go wrong. Often times, these worrying thoughts feel intrusive and relentless. CBT, mindfulness and ACT are three types of therapy that are clinical shown to help people overcome generalised anxiety and approach life with ease of mind.
Trauma, also commonly known at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, is far more common than most people realise. A person can become traumatised after enduring one or many events that threaten to cause physical injury, emotional terror and/or death. During or around the event a person generally responds with extreme fear, horror or by shutting down.
The most common causes for trauma include rape, war, physical abuse, emotional & psychological abuse, torture, accidents, natural disasters and street violence. A second and different type of trauma can also occur as a result of chronic neglect during childhood, where a child or infant is deprived of basic nurturing and loving support by a consistent caregiver.
Trauma tends to have long lasting effects on a person's psychological wellbeing because it disrupts their sense of safety in the world and around others on a physiological and chemical level. Relationship difficulties, self-harm, bulimia, anorexia, impulsivity, anxiety, anger and addiction are commonly seen in trauma survivors. As such, these individuals are frequently misdiagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. The most effective therapies used to treat trauma do not necessarily focus on the traumatising event itself but more so on how that event has impacted a person's ability to regulate their emotions and feel safe in their bodies.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition where a person experiences intrusive and disturbing thoughts or images that cause them to feel anxious, disgusted or uneasy. To quell the anxiety brought on by these thoughts, a person with OCD engages in compulsive behaviours, rituals or 'thought checking' which provides short-term relief but ultimately makes matters worse.
OCD has become quite a popular term in recent years that many people use to describe a personality that is orderly, clean and organised but this is inaccurate. OCD is a very disruptive and distressing condition that interrupts a person's daily functioning and peace of mind. A specific type of CBT called Exposure & Response Prevention has been shown to be very effective therapy for the treatment of OCD.
- Fear of contamination from germs, viruses, body fluids, foods etc.
- Worries about harm occurring from break ins, kidnapping, contamination etc.
- Obsessions with the body or physical symptoms
- Religious, sacrilegious or blasphemous thoughts
- Sexual thoughts or images such as incest or paedophilia
- Thoughts or images of violence such as stabbing someone or harming your baby
- Urge to hoard useless or worn out possessions
- Excessive concern with exactness, order, symmetry etc.
- Checking behaviours (e.g., checking the oven, plugs, locks, kettle, flat iron etc.).
- Repeating acts (e.g., hand washing, touching wood, crossing
- Mental rituals (e.g., repeating special words or prayers in a set manner or counting)
- Ordering or arranging acts (e.g., before leaving the house)
- Hoarding or collecting
Research indicates that eating disorders are on the rise for both men and women along with society's increased focus on body image. There are several types of eating disorders, the most common of which are bulimia, anorexia or a combination of both. The type if eating disorder a person has depends on the way in which they struggle with food and how they relate to their body. Issues around shame and control are common in both conditions.
Bulimia is a type of eating disorder where a person binges on foods, usually ones that they forbid themselves to eat, and subsequently purges or forces themselves to vomit. Binging and purging is primarily a means to control weight and body shape. It additionally serves as a means of coping with stress. Individuals who struggle with bulimia tend to experience a great deal of shame around their eating habits and, a result, try to hide their struggles from others. Unfortunately, this tendency only further undermines their self-esteem. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are commonly experienced alongside bulimia. Compassion-Focussed Therapy, Mindfulness and ACT have all been shown to help people recover from this condition.
Anorexia is a type of eating disorder where a person heavily restricts how much food they eat, often eating as little as possible. As a result their body weight falls dangerously below average. By restricting food intake, a person is able to assert total control over body weight and shape. There is also evidence of some distorted self-image in that they may continue to see themselves as being overweight when they are objectively not. They may take appetite suppressants, diuretics or laxatives to assist in weight loss and can become quite obsessive about their eating habits. Depression, anxiety and a history of trauma are commonly seen in individuals who struggle with anorexia. CBT, Mindfulness and ACT are all shown to help people recover.