Types of Anxiety : Why The Label?
Updated: Jan 3
What are types of anxiety and anxiety disorders? Is labelling useful?
Stuart Rose, Clinical Hypnotherapist at Positive Change Hypnotherapy in Bolton explains anxiety disorders and types, everyday and problematic anxiety, and discusses the issues around using labels.
In Part II the different types of anxiety disorder will be explained.
WHAT IS AN ANXIETY DISORDER AND TYPE OF ANXIETY?
There are different types of anxiety, which are referred to as anxiety disorders in psychology and psychiatry.
The different types are all disorders where anxiety is the main symptom; anxiety is experienced in the presence of, or in response to, an object or situation, or ; anxiety is experienced unless some ritualistic behaviours or thought patterns take place.
FROM EVERYDAY TO PROBLEMATIC ANXIETY
Anxiety in everyday life is within the normal range of human experience and can actually be adaptive — useful and helpful.
However, like most mental health issues, anxiety exists on a continuum.
Imagine a line from left to right. At the left side is minimal anxiety that does not interfere with a person’s life or how they function and instead it may be helpful and useful. At the other end of the line, on the right hand side, is extremely problematic anxiety which a person feels they cannot control and which significantly interferes with how they live their life and how they function.
These two extremes are very different.
In between, as you move along the line from let to right, the anxiety increases but each increase can be very small, almost indistinct from the level before.
There is some point along this line, this continuum, were the anxiety does begin to become problematic for the person and interfere with how they live their life and how they function. As you move further and further along the line to the right, the anxiety becomes more problematic.
This is very individual. Where this point is that anxiety becomes problematic is really down to each individual person, their experience of, and ability to manage anxiety.
The point here is that anxiety can develop to be a disorder — a mental health condition that disrupts and impairs normal physical and mental functions.
An anxiety disorder is when a person experiences problematic anxiety which interferes with how they live their life and how they function, both mentally and physically.
The crucial aspect here too is that the anxiety happens in situations that most people could handle with little difficulty.
TYPES OF ANXIETY
The different types of anxiety are based on classifications of anxiety disorder.
This is an attempt to draw similarities between people of how anxiety is experienced and how it manifests.
The generally recognised types of anxiety are as follows:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Dosroder (PTSD)
These will be explained in Part II of this Blog.
THE USEFULNESS OF TYPES OF ANXIETY -
THE PERSON IS NOT THE LABEL
This can be very useful because it can all people themselves to better understand what they are experiencing and it can allow mental health professional to better identify the patient’s condition as well as communicate more easily about the nature of their problems, prognosis and treatment (Gross, 1996).
The system is not perfect because not everyone who experiences problematic anxiety fits exactly into a specific type of anxiety or as suffering from a particular anxiety disorder and the classification system can ignore a fuller understanding of each individuals unique characteristics, their experience and situation.
I feel that, as long as we are careful about use of labelling conditions as types of anxiety, how information about them is communicated and understanding their limitations, identifying types of anxiety can be useful.
It can help people understand their condition more, that other people also suffer from a very similar condition and can provide a framework to understand their condition and beginning to manage it more effectively or overcome it.
It can also be useful for the mental health professional to identify a persons experience as a particular type of anxiety, for some similar reasons to the above. It can also help in understanding the particular pattern occurring for that individual client/patient, prognosis and the most effective and beneficial course of treatment.
The person is not the anxiety however. The person is not the label.
Anxiety is part of the persons current experience (and perhaps past experience too). It is a mental health condition but not everything about that person, although at times it can feel for some sufferers that the anxiety begins to dominate their experience and life. It is one aspect of the persons life and experience at that time. It is not the person.
I feel that keeping this in mind can help us also to know that anxiety can be reduced, it can be managed differently, and ultimately, problematic anxiety can be overcome so that the person can move through the experience and get on with their life free from that old problematic anxiety.
OVERCOMING PROBLEMATIC ANXIETY
Anxiety is our specialism at Positive Change Hypnotherapy in Bolton. Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist, Stuart Rose, has worked with people experiencing problematic anxiety in different forms dating back to 1999.
Working daily with clients to overcome their problematic anxiety, Stuart has a real passion for this area of work. He has kept abreast of research, understandings and developments in treatment seeking to provide the very best treatment for each client that is both tailored to each person and responsive to them as a person and their unique needs and situation.
Stuart says “I have found clinical hypnotherapy to be a most useful and effective treatment to help people to gain control over the anxiety, reduce the anxiety, manage it more effectively and to overcome the problematic anxiety, finding the freedom to get on with their lives in the way they choose.
I find this an extremely interesting and rewarding area of my practice, and with significant and substantial experience combined with my academic and professional background in psychology, I am in a position to help people really make a difference to their lives. Nothing is better than that.”
I hope you can appreciate that the debate between psychiatric classification and labels is detailed and nuanced and in this short article we can only hope to provide readers with a quick overview.