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Anxiety vs anxiety disorders: the differences between them ANXIETY VS ANXIETY DISORDERS: THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM
Part of the overall problem in understanding the severity of the disorders lies in the word 'anxiety'. Everyone has been anxious at one time or another, and it is through our own experience of anxiety that we judge those who experience anxiety disorders.
Our own anxiety may not have affected us to any great extent. If it did we were able to do something about it, or it passed of its own accord and was no longer a problem. We have extreme difficulty in accepting that a person with an anxiety disorder experiences anything different from our own anxiety. So it is quite natural for us to say or think 'pull yourself together', or to ignore that there really is a problem.
There is a marked difference between the 'normal' experience of anxiety and that of an anxiety disorder. People cannot 'pull themselves together', because they do not know what is wrong with them. They do not recognise the symptoms as anxiety. If it was purely the experience of anxiety, people would recognise it and they would be able to address the problem. It is this difference which is highlighted by the fact that even now, some health professionals are still unable to recognise, let alone, diagnose or treat these disorders.
The symptoms of anxiety can be quite varied, with any number of symptoms being experienced at the same time. The most common ones are a rapid or pounding heartbeat,
'missed' heartbeats, chest pain, an inability to take a deep breath, a feeling that breathing will stop altogether, choking sensation, dizziness, giddiness, feeling faint, nausea, pins and needles, diarrhoea, trembling hands and/or legs, dry mouth, sweating, fatigue, loss of concentration, loss of libido. Dissociative symptoms can include depersonalisation, derealisation, visual disturbances such as intolerance to light, stationary objects appearing to move, tunnel vision and/or audio disturbances, where everyday noise seems louder than normal.
For many people with an anxiety disorder the symptoms are their constant companion. Not just for a few minutes or hours at a time, but ongoing sometimes for months or years. To confuse the issue further, people can experience different symptoms and sensations in their anxiety and panic attacks (Arthur-Jjnes 1994).
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