Anxiety is a common experience and most of us might feel some anxiety at times because of worrying about a deadline we have to meet or performing on a task, like for example having to give a speech. People who have an anxiety disorder however, experience themselves as anxious most of the time, feel overwhelmed and have difficulty calming themselves down. Other cognitive symptoms such as excessive worry, negative thinking, catastrophizing, excessive fear as well as physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, heart burn or higher heart beat and higher pulse rate, sleep problems and muscle aches may also accompany the emotional experience of anxiety. People who suffer from severe anxiety disorder can not easily calm themselves down, feel that they cannot control their symptoms, and worry excessively. In such cases it is important to seek psychological help, as chronic anxiety can lead to other severe psychological and physiological problems.
All of us may at times temporarily feel sad, down or somewhat depressed. Individuals who experience major depression or another type of a depressive disorder may find themselves overwhelmed by deep feelings of depression or sadness which may interfere with their overall daily functioning, such as inability to go to sleep, waking up thinking or depressed in the middle of the night, inability to get out of bed, inability to go to work or complete daily tasks, inability to eat or over-eat, lack of energy, fatigue and lack of interest in themselves or their lives, they may easily become tearful or experience suicidal thoughts or feelings, find themselves unable to concentrate on tasks or enjoy life in general. There are various forms of depressive disorders such as major or clinical depression, dysthymic disorder, depressive disorder not otherwise specified or other related forms of depression such as psychotic depression, postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder. It is important to seek psychological help when such symptoms persist and address the psychological and/or physiological roots of depression.
Bipolar disorder is a form of mood disorder which is indicated by experiences of abnormal mood elevations as in mania or hypomania and can be accompanied by episodes of depressive mood. In some cases of bipolar disorder a person may experience both manic and depressive episodes of mood variations and the cycles may alternate with various durations for each episode and vary on the bipolar spectrum. Other types of bipolar disorders include bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia. Bipolar disorders are complex and it is very important to seek psychological consultation to address the various complexities and challenges that can emerge from struggling with a bipolar condition.
OCD or Obsessive Compulsive disorder is a condition in which a person experiences intrusive thoughts or obsessions, which in turn lead to compulsive behaviors often in an attempt to reduce deeper roots of anxiety. Often a person who is struggling with OCD may feel out of control with the thoughts or obsessions and/or compulsions or behaviors which he/she is driven to do in order to cope with underlying feelings of anxiety. It is important to seek psychological consultation especially in more severe cases of OCD where symptoms may interfere with a person’s normal functioning and lead to other emotional or psychological problems. OCD can also develop as a form of a personality disorder.
Panic disorder is a form of anxiety disorder in which individuals experience mild to severe panic attacks, occurring once or a few times or more often. Panic attacks are usually experienced as uncontrollable and may appear to be happening without a warning. Some of the symptoms of a panic attack are an intense rush of fear, a sudden strong heart beat, a sense of being overwhelmed, anxiety and dizziness. The experience of panic attacks are usually scary for people and sometimes people become afraid that they may be going crazy, loosing their mind, passing out or something terrifying happening to them that is out of their control and that they do not understand. What usually reinforces panic attacks is fear of having another panic attack, which may cause additional anxiety or bring on another experience of a panic attack. It is important to seek psychological consultation to explore and understand the deeper roots of panic attacks in order to address this problem more effectively.
The word phobia comes from the Greek word phobos, which means ‘fear’, and applies to many forms of fear that can arise in association with various emotional and psychological issues. Phobias are one of the most common forms of anxiety disorders, such as Agoraphobia (fear of crowded places and fear of leaving one’s home), Acrophobia (fear of heights), Claustrophobia (fear of being in confined spaces), or Aviophobia (fear of flying).
Most of us may experience some mild nervousness when we are meeting someone new or important, or giving a speech in front of an audience. People who have social anxiety though, would experience moderate to severe anxiety in most social situations. They may experience excessive shyness, worry about what others think about them, worry that others are negatively judging them, often may feel rejected by others, become readily embarrassed and overwhelmed in everyday social situations and avoid all kinds of social situations at all costs to prevent experiences of anxiety. Most people who have social anxiety are aware of their problem, feel overly self-conscious about it, find themselves at a loss how to deal with the problem, avoid social situations and feel that their problem is out of their control. A chronic problem with social anxiety can also negatively affect and reinforce problems with poor self-esteem and low self-confidence. Problems related to social anxiety, poor self-esteem and self-confidence can be addressed through psychotherapy.
At various stages in life which involve some form of a major change or transition we can experience emotional distress and at times various stressors in our lives can become so challenging that we might experience depression, anxiety, fear, panic, anger, deep disappointment or a mixture of such emotions. Such mixed emotions can emerge and be experienced temporarily or last longer and require a period of emotional adjustment specially during challenging times which involve life transitions such as a major move, break up and separation with a lover/spouse/partner/friend, divorce, grief over the loss of a loved person or a pet, occupational changes or challenges such as job loss or demotion, scholastic difficulties and challenges, identity issues and various other life events which may involve a form of major change or loss. It is important to seek psychological help at these times to have emotional and psychological support during such critical transitions in order to make a successful transition to the next stage of life, as they can be invaluable opportunities for increased consciousness and growth.