We all experience anxiety. It is a normal and even necessary aspect of life. We need feelings of anxiousness to spur us on to do things we may avoid or to warn us when a situation is dangerous. Having an anxiety disorder is different. People suffering from anxiety related disorders often have very intense, persistent and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations that negatively impact their lives and at times their ability to function optimally. Panic attacks occur when a person with an anxiety disorder has repeated episodes of intense anxiety, fear and even terror that appear suddenly. Often these feelings of anxiety are difficult to control and excessive in comparison with the actual situations which may not be dangerous at all. Many sufferers of anxiety disorders avoid places and situations to prevent these strong emotions from arising. Symptoms can start at any point in a person’s life even childhood and can continue into adult life. There are several types of anxiety disorders. A person can have more than one anxiety disorder and at times anxiety could be the result of a medical condition that has gone untreated. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders and many people are finding relief from symptoms by engaging in psychotherapy.
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Types of Anxiety Disorders are:
- Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
- Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
- Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they've occurred.
- Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
- Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that's excessive for the child's developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
- Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you're exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
- Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don't meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
Risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder include experiencing a traumatic event, stress buildup from adverse life experiences or medical condition, personality, other mental health disorders, relatives with anxiety, drugs and alcohol. Anxiety can complicate or worsen other mental and physical conditions such as depression, substance misuse, insomnia, digestive or bowel problems, headaches and chronic pain, social isolation, problems functioning at school or work, poor quality of life and suicide. This is why it is so important to treat early if possible.
Take the steps to reduce the impact of anxiety on your life. Call for a free consultation and we can get started right away on a plan that is uniquely fit for you.