Categorizing Anxiety | Counseling | Therapy

Anxiety Therapy in Philadelphia, Ocean City, Mechanicsville, Santa Fe

Alex Robboy , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

Categorizing Anxiety; Anxiety Therapy in Philadelphia, PA and Ocean City, NJ image

Categorizing Anxiety: Learn the Difference Between Anxiety Types Anxiety can come in many shapes and sizes. In other words, it does not discriminate between people, nor do those who suffer with it typically discriminate between their attacks. Yet the truth is that anxiety can be broken down into four main categories which, when identified, can reveal much about the underlying issues behind each attack and give clues to overcoming those issues. Learning these four categories and recognizing them in action will give you an edge in solving your anxiety dilemma:

Realistic- (categorizing anxiety) Anxiety that falls under this heading is just a it seems. It stems from a true and valid source that would create a certain amount of tension in most any individual. Perhaps the person diagnosed with clinical anxiety suffers from a more extreme response than others, or perhaps not. In either case, it is important to determine if their current feelings of anxiety are realistic, because if they are, then practical steps to disarm the source of their anxiety should be taken as opposed to simply attempting to disengage the mental and physical response. Examples of realistic anxiety would include scenarios like meeting a deadline that one is truly unprepared for, being in a physical accident of some kind, loss of a loved one, or being confronted or threatened by another person. These incidents are real, they are truly as they seem, not exaggerated or misunderstood; and they create genuine feelings of anxiety in most individuals. In these cases, the sufferer’s energy is better put to confronting the situation practically (i.e. working to catch up before the deadline or dealing with the bodily harm acquired in the accident) as opposed to only coping with the symptoms mentally.

Catastrophizing- (categorizing anxiety) This category lies in strict opposition to realistic anxiety. Rather than stemming from a true and valid source, this type of anxiety stems from an exaggerated and dramatized trigger. Generally speaking, an actual incident may have occurred prior to the dramatization, but the anxiety is truly coming from the individual’s overreaction to the incident and not the incident itself. Recognizing catastrophizing behavior is crucial, as any attempts to confront the incident itself are futile. What must be confronted is the individual’s response to the incident and their exaggeration of it. Examples of catastrophizing include believing someone is angry or attacking the person when their words and actions do not support that, dreading a deadline that is neither looming nor threatening in any way, fearing an accident or bodily harm when one is not imminent, or assuming they are going to lose a loved one when the facts do not convey that (i.e. the person is healthy or not seriously ill). In cases like these, the individual quite literally blows the incident out of proportion. Maybe something occurred to spark the exaggeration, for instance in the first case perhaps a coworker did not stop to talk with the individual when they saw him/her at work in the break-room. This does not imply anger or attack in any way. Most likely the person was simply in a hurry to return to their work. Yet, the anxiety sufferer begins to assume or imagine the person is angry, threatening, or does not like them. What began as a meaningless exchange is soon blown into a perceived threat that has no basis in reality, igniting a host of anxiety symptoms that are not a direct result of the coworker’s actions, but of the sufferer’s response.

True in this instance- (categorizing anxiety) This category implies that the anxiety felt by the individual is based in either reality or dramatization, but tempered by the recognition that it does not apply to every similar incident hereafter. At this point, the anxiety may already be determined as realistic or catastrophizing, but taking it further one must determine if the individual is holding their anxiety to this instance alone or applying to all instances like it in the past, present, and especially future. What you are determining here is the individual’s application of their anxiety and whether that is true or realistic or exaggerated and catastrophizing. If the sufferer is anxious about an approaching deadline, whether it is reasonable for them to be or not, do they believe they will miss only this deadline, or all deadlines after? Do they believe the results of missing the deadline will apply only to this situation or affect their entire future? Are their beliefs reasonable or not? Knowing an individual’s anxiety is limited to the present circumstances allows you to focus on combating the anxiety as it applies to that circumstance only. The approach is more direct and the sufferer is more likely to not to face the same symptoms the next time they are confronted with a similar issue.

True in every instance- (categorizing anxiety) As opposed to the previous category, this category indicates that the individual applies their anxiety to the current circumstances and all circumstances like it that may come. Anxiety that fits in this category is marked by unrealistic, definitive beliefs and statements. Comments like, “If I screw this up it just proves how stupid I am” are indicative of this type of anxiety. These comments might be said aloud, or more likely are internalized and thought rather than stated. In this case, the individual believes that the mistake negates their ability to do anything right, as implied by the word ‘stupid’; whereas the more likely truth is that one mistake is limited to one incident and there is no reason to assume the next incident cannot be handled differently. Knowing when yours or a loved one’s anxiety falls under this heading is important because it illuminates whether you are working against a solitary cause and effect or a generalized mentality that must be redirected in a more positive perspective in order to assuage the anxiety.

As you can see from these four types of anxiety, not every attack is the same. Being able to categorize yours or a loved one’s anxiety can be very helpful in overcoming it. Knowing whether the anxiety is realistic, catastrophizing, true in this case, or always true allows you to strategically develop a plan to combat the anxiety how, where, and when it needs to be addressed.

Still want to work with a Therapist on managing your anxiety? Call 215-922-5683 Ext. 100 to schedule with an anxiety Therapist today. We offer therapy in Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City, NJ, Mechanicsville, VA, and Santa Fe, NM. We also offer virtual therapy in both Georgia and Florida.

For fun we decided to ask the computer for feedback on this topic. We were told the computer that . . .

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses and are characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, which can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Anxiety disorders can manifest in different forms, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue
  • Avoiding certain situations due to anxiety
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Anxiety can be treated with a combination of therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help a person learn how to recognize and change negative thoughts and behaviors. Medications used to treat anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, healthy diet, and stress management can also help manage symptoms of anxiety.

It's important to note that everyone experiences anxiety differently and it's important to get professional help in order to manage it. With the right treatment and support, people with anxiety disorders can lead fulfilling and productive lives.

When we asked the computer about to one could best categorize the feeling (s) of anxiety, we were told that Anxiety could broadly categorized into several different types, including:

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday events and activities. People with GAD may experience symptoms such as muscle tension, fatigue, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.
  2. Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks, which can include physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
  3. Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is characterized by intense fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder may avoid social situations or experience significant distress when they are in them.
  4. Specific Phobias: Specific phobias involve intense fear and anxiety related to specific objects or situations, such as heights, closed spaces, or flying.
  5. Separation Anxiety Disorder: Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and unrealistic fear of separation from loved ones.
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): People with OCD have persistent thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that they cannot control. These thoughts are often disturbing and can cause anxiety.
  7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, accident, or sexual or physical assault. People with PTSD may experience anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  8. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD): Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a short-term condition that can occur after a traumatic event, it can include symptoms of anxiety, depression and dissociation.

It is important to note that these categories are not mutually exclusive and some people may experience symptoms of more than one type of anxiety disorder. A proper diagnosis should be made by a mental health professional.

InPerson Therapy & Virtual Counseling: Child, Teens, Adults, Couples, Family Therapy and Support Groups. Anxiety, OCD, Panic Attack Therapy, Depression Therapy, FND Therapy, Grief Therapy, Neurodiversity Counseling, Sex Therapy, Trauma Therapy: Therapy in Providence RI, Philadelphia PA, Ocean City NJ, Santa Fe NM, Mechanicsville VA