Everyone feels anxious at from time to time. Meeting deadlines, going on a first date, appointments at the dentist, being late for important events often bring about feelings of mild anxiety. Anxiety disorders are when these feelings become the norm. This can be both distressing and cause a lot of disruption to a persons everyday life. Symptoms such a shortness of breath, racing heart rate, clammy hands, dizziness and trembling are all common with anxiety.
There are several different anxiety disorders and each has its own characteristics. In generalized anxiety disorder people will often have recurring fears or worries. These are persistent and can lead to a general feeling of being uncomfortable in lots of different situations. A person may have an underlying, niggling feeling that something bad is always going to happen. It may be difficult to identify exactly what is going to go wrong so the mind comes up with its own list. This list can be pretty comprehensive! Feeling this way may get in the way of daily life and is more common than you might imagine.
Panic disorder involves sudden, intense feelings of dread. This is often linked with a particular scenario such as standing up in public making a presentation, or going into a crowded train. This can lead people to avoid the the triggers for these feelings. Sometimes this is easy to do, but at other times it can be very restricting.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable thoughts which are alleviated by following a particular routine, thereby providing an antidote to the anxiety. There is usually a train of thought which causes anxiety to mount and by following the ritual the anxiety is "switched off". Commonly associated with hand washing, housecleaning or checking repeatedly for errors.
Post traumatic stress disorder has become more widely recognised since the 1970's. It occurs when someone experiences a trauma of some kind eg a car crash, being mugged, witnessing a traumatic situation. The mind replays the incident over and over again, sometimes for years, each time with accompagnying anxiety.
If left untreated they can get worse. Additionally they have consequences for the sufferer who avoids putting themselves in the position where an anxiety attack may occur. This can disrupt work and family life. The stress of this experience may lead a person to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. Prescription medication is often used to help control symptoms but doesn't alleviate the cause, leading to people remaining on it for years.
NLP has developed a good track record with anxiety disorders. It has been used extensively in America with Vietnam veterans and has been used in Asian countries following natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.