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Anxiety: What to Know and Look For

When I think back to college, it was a time when my days were filled with classes, Friday night football games, campus organizations and socializing. I also remember all the people I knew who had some form of anxiety. The majority of my peers’ anxiety could be attributed to moving to a new state, being isolated, worrying about grades or not knowing how to socialize.

College is a time when many people first experience symptoms of anxiety. Knowing what to look for is the first step to ensuring the safety for yourself and those in your vicinity.

Signs of five common types of anxiety:

  1. Phobic disorder: A person avoids or restricts certain activities because of persistent and excessive fear. They can be afraid of events, objects or specific places.
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Occurs after a distressing or catastrophic event. The intense fear, helplessness or horror causes a person to re-experience the trauma. They can be reminded in dreams, flashbacks, intrusive memories or situations that bring back memories of the original trauma.
  3. Generalized anxiety disorder: Causes a person to worry excessively, especially when there are no outward signs that they should be concerned. Can cause problems concentrating, functioning at home and living a fulfilling productive life.
  4. Panic disorder is broken down into two classes:
    1. Panic attacks: A sudden onset of intense apprehension, fear or terror. Some symptoms can be similar to a heart attack.
    2. Panic disorder: Recurring panic attacks for at least a month followed by being constantly worried that another attack will occur. Can develop into agoraphobia and avoiding places because of fear of having a panic attack.
  5. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Occurs the least often, but can be the most disabling of all anxiety conditions. The mind is overrun with thoughts and impulses focused on fear of contamination, the need for symmetry and exactness, safety issues, sexual impulses or aggressive impulses. Actions associated this disorder are repetitive or the person may feel driven to perform them to reduce anxiety.

What can cause an anxiety disorder:

  1. A history of anxiety in childhood or adolescence
  2. Using drugs and/or alcohol
  3. Side-effects of prescription drugs
  4. Traumatic experiences
  5. Separation or family divorce
  6. Poverty
  7. Difficult childhood (experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or excessive strictness)

If you believe that you have experienced symptoms of an anxiety disorders, there are four scientifically proven ways to help reduce and eventually eliminate anxiety:

  1. Relaxation training
  2. Exercise
  3. Self-help books based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  4. Meditation

If you’ve never experienced excessive anxiety, but would like to learn how to #BeTheDifference and support those in your community who are or have, find a Mental Health First Aid course near you today.

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