Anxiety disorders are classified into different types, all of which have different specific symptoms, but they are linked by the experience of excessive fear, worry and anxiety. Together, these disorders are one of the most common of all mental health problems, occurring in approximately 1 in 10 people (stat from CMHA). People experience the symptoms in varying degrees of severity. For students, challenges such as exams, busy schedules and public speaking can create feelings of worry and anxiety and sometimes even fear. It is important to make the distinction between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Generally, anxiety disorders are different in that the feelings of fear and distress are intense and out of proportion to the actual threat or danger. Normal anxiety is characterized by occasional worry, self-consciousness and feelings of stress because of specific performance events such as exams, doing presentations and just feeling overwhelmed because of having too much to do and not enough time. Anxiety disorders are characterized by constant, chronic, irrational worry and anxiety that affects all aspects of life. Panic attacks, obsessive thinking, and feelings of terror can also be parts of the disorder.
Everyone should practice ways and develop strategies to lessen stress and reduce anxiety in their lives. Meditation, good healthy eating, exercise, relaxation and developing good relationships and friendships go a long way to relieve anxiety. These factors are also important for people with anxiety disorders but in these cases, more focused help and concentration is necessary. Medication, psychotherapy and education can play a role in helping people resolve the symptoms of anxiety disorders. It is critical that the individual allows themselves to be open to these therapeutic approaches.
It is common for people to have more than one anxiety disorder. As well, anxiety disorders are often found along with other health issues such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse or physical illnesses. While the exact cause of anxiety disorders is yet unknown, it is believed that they develop due to a combination of biological factors and an individual’s personal circumstances.
Anxiety is normal experience of being a student. Individuals with anxiety disorders have excessive amounts of anxiety that are extreme in terms of severity, intensity and duration. So extreme is their anxiety that it seriously affects their everyday functioning on an ongoing basis. Students with normal anxiety may feel anxious for a limited time, i.e. before an exam, but then are able to return to their normal level of functioning. However, exam anxiety is not by itself an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders are as follows: