What is anxiety?

  • The term anxiety is generally defined as a diffuse, vague, very unpleasant feeling of fear and apprehension.
  • Symptoms include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, fainting spells, sweating, loss of sleep, frequent urination, tremors and palpitations.

Types of Anxiety Disorders:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder:

  • It involves prolonged, vague, unexplained and intense fears that are not attached to any specific object, event or person.
  • Symptoms include worry and apprehensive feelings about the future, hyper-vigilance, which refers to constantly scanning one’s surrounding and environment for dangers.

Panic Disorder:

  • It includes recurrent anxiety attacks in which the individual experiences intense terror and fright. In a panic attack, there is an abrupt surge of intense terror and fright.
  • In a panic attack, there is an abrupt surge of intense anxiety increasing to a very high level when thoughts of a particular stimuli are present. Such thoughts often happen in an unpredictable manner. The symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, choking, discomfort, fear of losing control and feelings of death.


  • Phobias refer to a strong, persistent and irrational fear of some specific object or situation that poses little or no actual danger to an individual.
  • Phobias develop gradually or begin with a generalised anxiety disorder. Phobias are of the following types.
  • Specific Phobias- It involves irrational fears such as intense fear of a certain type of animal or being in an enclosed space.
  • Social Phobias- It refers to the intense and incapacitating fear and embarrassment when dealing with other people.
  • Agoraphobia- It refers to the fear which develops when people have to enter unfamiliar situations. People suffering from agoraphobia are afraid of leaving their abode. Therefore, their capability to carry out normal life activities is severely limited.

Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD):

  • OCD is one of the most common and problematic psychological disorders. People who suffer from OCD, lose the ability to control their preoccupation with particular thoughts and ideas or are unable to stop themselves from frequently carrying out an action or a series of actions in a repetitive manner. As a result, it affects their ability to carry out daily activities.
  • Obsessive Behaviour- It refers to the loss of ability to stop thinking about a specific idea or topic. The individual always finds him/herself to be preoccupied with certain thoughts which are unpleasant and shameful to him/her.
  • Compulsive Behaviour- It refers to the inability to check the impulse to carry out certain actions or behaviours again and again. These compulsions include counting, ordering, checking, touching and washing.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

  • People who have experienced trauma related to natural disasters or have been victims of manmade disasters like wars and bomb blasts suffer from PTSD.
  • Some symptoms of PTSD include recurrent dreams and nightmares, flashbacks, impaired concentration and emotional numbing.

Symptoms of PTSD-

  • Immediate Reactions: People take time to understand the complete meaning of what the disaster has done to them. They may actually refuse to themselves that something horrible has occurred to them.
  • Physical Reactions: It includes physical exhaustion without any exercise, insomnia, loss of appetite, increased heartbeat, high blood pressure and getting startled easily can be found among the victims. 
  • Emotional Reactions: Grief, helplessness, hopelessness, depression, emotional numbing, guilt feelings, blaming one-self and lack of interest in routine activities are the major symptoms found in the victims.
  • Cognitive Reactions: It involves worry, reduced span of attention, confusion, memory loss and nightmares.
  • Social Reactions: It includes social withdrawal, aggression towards others, argumentative behaviour, feelings of rejection and feelings of isolation. Some survivors may help in the healing process. Since, he/she has been through the experience and survived it, he/she may develop a positive outlook on life and with empathy pass on this attitude to others. 

People experience anxiety at different moments in their lives. This is normal and predictable. It also motivates them to do the task in a much better manner. However, high level of anxiety puts the people in distress and interferes with the effective functioning of the individual. This in turn exhibits the presence of an anxiety disorder.