Life is full of challenges and brings various challenging situations. It is quite normal to get nervous in challenging situations such as going for a job interview, having a tough exam or giving a speech to a large crowd for the first time etc. But the problem arises when such worries, nervousness or fears start overwhelming us and generating dysfunctionality in our daily life. Such overwhelming feelings indicate the presence of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a natural response of human body towards any kind of external or internal danger or threatening situation. It, in fact, facilitates us in staying vigilant and attentive, and also can warn us against a potential harm which further prepares us for fight-or-flight situation. It can also incite us to take some action and also stimulate us in problem solving. However, when the anxiety gets persistent, uncontrollable and overpowering and it starts affecting one’s personal, social or occupational functioning, then it does not let us stay productive. Dysfunctionality is the criterion that determines the abnormal nature of anxiety. Such kind of anxiety is quite disabling and makes one’s life disordered.
Ms. Amna Nawaz currently works as a clinical psychologist at Willing Ways, Lahore. She has done MS in clinical psychology and B.Sc (Hons.) from GC University, Lahore. Heath counseling, addiction counseling, subjective well-being and intellectual disability are her areas of interest as well as her educational expertise.Earlier, she has also supervised trainee child psychologists working in a special education institute being run by the Government of Punjab.
Editor: Hameeda Batool
People with anxiety disorders tend to constantly remain tensed and worried. They appear to be living on the edge all the time. They usually know that their worrying thoughts and fears are irrational in nature yet they cannot get rid of them. They keep on dreading that something bad will happen and always ruminating about the worse case scenarios. Their everyday tasks, relationships, work etc all get disturbed. Moreover, they eventually prefer to avoid all such situations or activities that generate anxiety for them. This is where they enter into the territory of dysfunctionality.
The symptoms of anxiety can be classified into two categories i.e. emotional symptoms and physical symptoms. Irrational and extreme fear, getting apprehensive while encountering the stimuli of danger and expecting the worst consequences at the same time, difficulty in concentration, getting tensed, irritability and blank-headedness are the emotional symptoms of anxiety. Whereas, the physical symptoms of anxiety include sweating, restlessness, increased heart beat, dizziness, headaches, frequent urination or diarrhea, nausea, muscle tension, shortness of breath, fatigue, trembling or shaking, feelings of being choked and insomnia.
Anxiety disorder is the umbrella term under which eight major types of anxiety disorders exist i.e. generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.