In some people, anxiety can become an all-consuming problem. It can escalate to a degree that is beyond what is normal. When this happens, anxiety disorders develop. They may begin to take a toll on the individual’s daily life and interactions, becoming persistent and difficult to control.
This is the basis of anxiety disorders, of which there are several different types. These disorders are all forms of mental illness that affect as many as 40 million Americans annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. They also note that more women, roughly 60 percent, have anxiety disorders than men. Despite continued research, it is still unknown what exactly causes these disorders. Researchers believe, however, that environmental stress and changes in the brain may combine to create this problem in some. Because risk increases when other family members suffer from an anxiety disorder, many researchers believe that it may be the result of inherited traits.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
As noted, there are different types of anxiety disorders. In addition, people are not always affected by a single anxiety disorder. In fact, a person can be affected by more than one. The different types include social anxiety disorder or phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.
Social anxiety disorder is a social phobia. A person who experiences this disorder suffers from an extreme and overwhelming fear of any social setting or situation. The anxiety often centers around a fear of embarrassment, criticism, or otherwise being closely scrutinized by a large group of people.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When a person worries chronically and is routinely overcome with nervousness and/or tension, these are signs of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). With this disorder, the chronic worry and anxiety is not due to one single situation or thing, but is general in nature.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD, which stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is an anxiety disorder that occurs following a traumatic event such as a personal attack, a very bad accident, or military combat, for example. This disorder causes the sufferer to relive the traumatic event repeatedly either in sleep or with flashbacks that can occur at various times.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer repeatedly obsesses over things, such as cleanliness, for example, and compulsively performs rituals in order to control their anxiety.
Panic Disorders and Phobias
Panic disorders are episodes in which a person experiences panic attacks. These attacks often leave people feeling as if they have lost control. Phobias are the final type of anxiety disorder. This type of disorder is defined as a fear of things that should not be feared and are generally not feared by most. This can be a fear of water, tunnels, blood, etc.
Symptoms of Anxiety
As there are different types of anxiety disorders, the signs and symptoms are naturally widely varied and can manifest differently from one person to another. They all share a common sign, however, in the form of anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety can manifest emotionally and include fear, worry or dread, restlessness, or difficulty concentrating. Anxiety also manifests in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headache, a pounding heart, tension in muscles, insomnia, difficulty breathing, and sweating.
Medical professionals have to properly diagnosis anxiety disorders to treat them. The process to diagnose these conditions involves a review of one’s history, both personal and medical, and a physical exam. During this process, the individual must be honest and open about symptoms, other conditions or habits, or changes in their condition. This includes revealing any substance abuse, caffeine use (particularly if it is excessive), and traumatic or extremely stressful events or changes.
Doctors use this information to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. In addition to the questions and examination, one’s doctor will also perform screening tests. Examples of these tests are the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, the Penn State Worry Questionnaire, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, and the Social Phobia Inventory.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
In general, a combination of psychotherapy and medication are common treatments for anxiety disorders. The specific therapy and medication are dependent on the type of anxiety disorder and any past attempts at treatment that the individual may have undergone. Potential medications include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, or beta-blockers. Therapy includes cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy and may occur individually or as a part of a group, depending on the condition and the person.
An anxiety disorder is a potentially disabling mental health condition that can be difficult for most people to understand. Many people confuse it with simple stress or anxiety, but it is so much more. Because the disorder has the ability to affect one’s day-to-day actions, it is important for families and loved ones to understand what it is. It is equally important for people to understand that there is more than just one type and that help is often possible.
Morningside Recovery offers premiere mental health treatment to help people struggling with anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. To learn more about our anxiety treatment program, call us today at 855-631-2135.