What kinds of anxieties are there?

And how do you distinguish normal anxiety from anxiety disorder?
08 October 2019


The word 'anxiety' spelled out in scrabble tiles.



What kinds of anxieties are there?


Olivia Remes from the University of Cambridge is here to answer Dee's question about anxiety...

Olivia - Yeah. So there are different types of anxiety disorders, but the most important thing that we need to distinguish is, what is normal anxiety, from, what is an anxiety disorder. Because you hear this word so much, people are talking about anxiety so much, but there is a difference between normal and abnormal anxiety. So normal anxiety is just a human emotion that we all have when we're in stressful situations. It helps us to deal with challenges and to overcome obstacles. So for example, if you're out in the woods and you encounter a wild animal, you're going to start feeling anxious and this rush going through you. So that's normal anxiety. Or, you know, the deadlines that you have at work. But if you take this normal anxiety to the extreme, and especially when it arises in situations which don't pose a real threat, then that's when you might have an anxiety disorder. There are different types. One of the most common anxiety disorders is generalised anxiety disorder, and this one is marked by, you have this excessive uncontrollable worry about anything that is going on in your life. You can worry about very small things to major matters, anything really. The worries can keep you up at night, you might feel restless, irritable, you might find it hard to concentrate... and it can be very impairing and disabling for some people. There are other anxiety disorders as well. This is just one of them.

Adam - How do we distinguish between what is normal and what isn't? Because normal is a varying baseline for different people.

Olivia - Yeah exactly. So for some people, they're so anxious that they find it hard to leave their house, they find that they need to quit their job because of all of this anxiety that they're feeling, and they might not know why they're feeling like they're about to have a heart attack for no reason. Or they start sweating in social situations, when they're talking to other people they feel like they can't hold it together. When they feel this distress, then some people go to the doctor for that, and the doctor can diagnose you according to this manual - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And this manual has got all of the symptoms of each disorder there, and the doctor uses that and other questionnaires to see if you meet criteria for one of these disorders, and then you can get treatment for that.

Adam - Thank you very much Olivia.


Add a comment