Advertising

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

5 Types of Anxiety and How to Deal with Them

Advertising
5 Types of Anxiety and How to Deal with Them

Anxiety can really chip away at our happiness if we don’t learn how to be and cope with it.

There’re so many different types of anxiety that can show up and steal perfectly enjoyable moments from our lives. It’s a beast of an emotion that can range from mildly uncomfortable to utterly crippling. In the simplest of terms, Anxiety is Worry. To which degree that we stress and worry is what increases or decreases our anxiety.

Anxiety seems to be the new buzz word given our fast moving society and need to always be one step ahead of the game. As a therapist, it’s a common symptom that brings many clients into my office.

As always, when we gain more knowledge about a topic, it becomes less scary. When something becomes less intimidating, we’re able to battle it with more confidence and success. This forces the beast (anxiety) to lose its power in order for us to allow it to pass and be gone.

With that said, I’ll point out 5 different types of anxiety, discuss what they look like and how to deal with them. After all, the trick is to No thy enemy, right?

1. Generalized Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety is one of the more common types of anxiety. In a nutshell, generalized anxiety is described as having an excessive and exaggerated sense of worry about everyday life events for no obvious reasons.

When it comes down to it, stress is stress, regardless of whether the worry is factually legit or not. Events can be benign and simple, yet cause us a ton of angst.

Generalized anxiety has the ability to lower the quality of our life as it grows and becomes louder. A little worry here or there, can be typical, although when worry turns to stress and daily rumination about all the things that could go wrong is standard, this type of anxiety can start quickly over taking our lives.

2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People with obsessive compulsive disorder can have obsessive thoughts and urges or compulsive, repetitive behaviors. Some individuals diagnosed have both obsessions and compulsions.

With OCD, your thoughts and actions feel uncontrollable, therefore you feel unable to function normally, which greatly effects everything in your life. Work, school, relationships, you name it, suffers because of the fixated need and want to do the compulsive behavior or obsession.

Advertising

Obsessive thoughts can range from the need for things to be in a particular order to a fear of hurting one self. Compulsive habits can be anything from repeatedly washing hands to checking if the lights are turned off several times more than necessary. These “ritualistic” behaviors are unique to the person and can effect anyone who loves them.

As it sounds, this disorder tends to be more obvious since the behaviors or thoughts encourage a person to do behaviors in ways that go out of the realm of what is deemed “normal.”

3. Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety is when the thought or actual interacting with other people causes irrational anxiety. The irrational fears can show up in a variety of ways; worrying about how the interaction is going to go, if judgement will occur, fear of embarrassment and concern around saying something “wrong” or “foolish.”

Social anxiety is very isolating which further perpetuates the unhealthy cycle of keeping to one’s self and strengthening delusional fears due to isolation.

4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Defined by WebMD,[1]

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened.”

Also known as, PTSD, is a disorder that causes feelings of intense fear or helplessness within the individual.

The grey area with this anxiety disorder is that trauma is relative. Meaning, what’s traumatic to one person might not be traumatic to another. Unexpected tragedies like deaths, losses, natural disasters are events that our society tends to view as “traumatic.”

Although when PTSD comes from such things as our exposure to abusive intimate relationships or experiences in which we uniquely felt traumatized, the warning signs can go under the radar (be unacknowledged) or be misdiagnosed.

Some common symptoms of PTSD are shock, anger, nervousness and fear. Ruminating about the trauma, flash backs, nightmares and a loss of concentration and inability to function well can also appear. Usually symptoms show up within 3 months of the specific traumatic incident.

Advertising

5. Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is when you avoid places or situations that you anticipate will cause you panic by triggering feelings of being trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

The anxiety is caused by fear that there’s no easy way to escape from the situation that’s triggering your panic. Agoraphobia symptoms center around the fear of leaving home, which creates worry of being exposed to crowds, enclosed spaces and, essentially, any environment that provokes anxiety within the person.

When your fear is so overwhelming that you become unable to leave your home this results in a lack of functioning, loss of quality of life and can lead to isolation and depression.

How to Cope with Anxiety

With whatever type of anxiety you’re dealing with, please know that there’re things that you can start doing for yourself right now to help alleviate the symptoms your experiencing.

I once heard high anxiety cleverly described as being “trapped within your own self imposed prison.” The good news with this is that you hold the key to your own prison cell, my friend.

With commitment and attention, you can find relief of symptoms, and, ultimately more overall peace.

Here are some tips on how to do so:

1. Question It and Dumb It Down

A go-to technique for me when a client is struggling with anxiety, is to start chipping away at the beast by questioning it and dumbing it down.

For example, I always go right to the jugular and ask what the fear is about.

The truth is, the chances of our biggest fear happening is slim to none. Usually too, when someone is struggling with high anxiety, they need some assistance getting their scale of stress assessment back on track, which is where “dumbing it down” comes into play.

Advertising

When we have anxiety, our scale of what’s a big deal tends to be out of wack. Meaning, we start stressing over things that are relatively “normal” aspects of life. You see this with road rage or, generally, anytime the level of reaction within a person doesn’t align with the actual event.

I find that once I put words to the fears of my clients who are battling anxiety, the emotion often looses it’s power and doesn’t seem as bad.

2. Breathe Babe

Learning ways to calm and clear your mind by practicing self soothing techniques is a key to our overall health and level of happiness.

We were all born knowing how to breath naturally from our bellies (diaphragm.) As we grow and are exposed to life’s pressures, we can begin to breath from our chest, which is defined as shallow breathing. This type of breathing is linked to individuals with anxiety.

Think hyperventilation, which is a psychosomatic response to stress and panic. Learning and practicing breathing techniques that are geared toward slowing your breathing will calm your system down.

Practices such as yoga and meditation are great skills to hone in order to practice helpful breathing techniques.

3. Move That Body

Tapping into your physicality and moving your body regularly is a must, but it can be a saving grace when it comes to those of us who struggle with anxiety.

Releasing natural endorphins through exercise can help boost your mood which will help fight off those nagging feelings of worry.

4. Face Your Fear

With whatever you’re dealing with in life, nothing will completely go away until you directly and purposefully confront it.

When you’re able to muster up the courage to challenge the irrational worries that you have, they will lessen or even completely disappear.

Advertising

You see the truth of anything that you’re brave enough to face directly. This holds true with sitting and coping with our anxiety. It’s common to want to escape the wraths of anxiety by constantly being so busy and pushing the emotion away. Although this may quiet it for some time, eventually it will resurface, as anything will that’s not dealt with completely.

Remember friends, the only way to get through something is to to go directly through it. There’s no short cuts when it comes to coping with anxiety or life, if you’re living it truthfully.

Here’re some tips to help you face your fear: 13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

5. Watch Your Alcohol and Caffeine Intake

Our bodies are similar to gas tanks. What we put into our system absolutely effects its preformance.

If you struggle with anxiety, be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant that will rev up your system and is known to increase your anxiety. A withdrawal side effect of alcohol is increased anxiety.

Most importantly, increasing your body/mind connection by becoming more aware of how you uniquely feel when you put certain substances and foods in your body is essential to your overall health.

Final Thoughts

I know that if you’re currently in the grips of anxiety’s strong hold, it can feel like it will never lessen. Please know it can and please know that it will with commitment to doing the positive self care to combat it.

Once you start to look at your habits, your self talk and your self care patterns, you can start to get a handle on it. With more tools in your back pocket to confront anxiety and put it in its place, you will feel relief and an overall higher quality of life.

More Articles About Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Ernest Brillo via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kim Egel

Kim Egel is a licensed therapist whose private practice is centered around the concepts of the mind, body & soul connection.

5 Types of Anxiety and How to Deal with Them Signs of a Nervous Breakdown (And How to Survive It) Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Trending in Mental Wellness

1 Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why? 2 Does Depression Make You Tired And How? 3 Overwhelmed at Work? 17 Ways to Manage Work Anxiety 4 Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine? 5 How To Cope With Traumatic Events And Stress

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 15, 2021

Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

Advertising
Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

1. Stress Hormone Overload

Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

Advertising

You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

3. Negative Mindset

Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

Advertising

Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

4. Digestive Issues

It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

5. Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

Advertising

Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

6. Breathing Problems

Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

Advertising

There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

7. Sleep Issues

Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

Advertising

More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next