So many people suffer from anxiety that it is often difficult to find someone who hasn’t had some form of anxiety. There is considerable dread (angst) involved in having or anticipating anxiety. This also applies to self and others. It is not comfortable to be caring about or loving someone with anxiety. Perhaps we can take some of the angst out of anxiety with some basic information on the types of anxiety that exist.Let’s look at the types of anxiety that exist. Don’t worry if you find yourself in the descriptions, as we will also be talking in future blogs about how to address different forms of anxiety.
If we view anxiety as a big black umbrella, much like the kinds that we use for heavy rains, it helps us view the types of anxiety that are found housed under that umbrella.
One form of anxiety under the umbrella is generalized anxiety. As the term suggests, the feeling of this type of anxiety is generalized. It is not about anything and it is about everything.
It is like the Peanuts cartoon strip, by cartoonist Charles Schultz, where Peanuts says, “My anxieties have anxieties.”
Generalized anxiety is, according to the DSM IVTR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities. This could include school, work, relationships, finances, the future, the past, and just about anything. Many people with generalized anxiety have problems with sleeping, muscle tension, concentration and focus, fatigue, irritability or anger, and restlessness or edginess.
In childhood generalized anxiety disorder is known as overanxious disorder of childhood. This manifest frequently these days in my clinical practice. It may be that families have more angst or that society is more tense. Children who are overly anxious present with body complaints such as stomach aches and a feeling of malaise. They report worrying about lots of things. They appear keyed up and have difficulty relaxing. Or, they hold everything inside and answer questions with as few words as possible usually using the phrase, “I don’t know.”
Children who are overly anxious report not sleeping well and they have fears. They may talk excessively and even follow you to the bathroom with their conversations. We want to help these little guys. Anxiety feels awful and it limits the ability of a child to focus in on the here and now in life, which is one of the wonderful advantages of being a child. Anxiety also takes the joy away and that is an awful thing.
The next blog will explore other types of anxieties. Do you know someone who is anxious?
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Last reviewed: 13 Dec 2011