Anxiety is a very normal and common human emotion, however, when it elevates to a disproportionate level, it could affect a person’s health. Anxiety disorders become a medical issue that results in excessive nervousness, worry, fear, and apprehension. In turn, these feelings alter how a person processes their emotions and behaves which could result in physical symptoms. Mild anxiety symptoms might leave a person feeling unsettled, while severe anxiety is debilitating and takes a toll on their day-to-day life.
What is Anxiety?
Understanding the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder can help individuals identify and get help for their condition. While anxiety does cause distress, it’s not always a medical condition. As a human being, it’s normal to experience some worries. A person may worry about their health, their career, or their family. These are common issues that everyone is bound to worry about at one point or another. Having said that, if a person finds themselves in a state of constant worry with no control over the emotion, they may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders refer to disorders that share a general feature of excessive fear, anxiety, or panic and inhibit how a person functions. These feelings interfere with daily life, are difficult to control, last a long time, and are out of proportion of the actual “danger”. Some examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorders. In some cases, a medical condition that needs treatment may cause an anxiety disorder. Over time, anxiety disorders can cause people to actively avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. This could lead to negatively affect heir job performance, school work, and personal relationships.
Anxiety Risk Factors
Similar to other mental health conditions, there are no clear cut causes of anxiety. It is likely that a combination of developmental, genetic, and behavioral factors played a part. Certain factors increase an individual’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder, including:
- Having family members with an anxiety disorder
- Stress buildup
- Certain personality types
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Having other mental health disorders
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions that should be treated properly as it can also affect physical health. Different anxiety disorders and individuals will display different symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Insomnia or sleep difficulties
- Excessive feelings of worry
- Feeling on-edge
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in chest
- Avoidance of stressful situations
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Cold chills or hot flashes
- Trembling or shakiness
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
Anxiety Disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects approximately 40 million adults in the United States every year. Of those individuals, though, only 36.9% of them receive the treatment that they need despite anxiety being highly treatable.
Anxiety is a common co-occurring disorder along with substance abuse and depression. In order to fully heal, all underlying conditions must be treated simultaneously. Treatment for anxiety disorders usually consists of a combination of behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and medications. This includes:
- Psychotherapy: Long-term therapy that targets a broad range of behavioral patterns. The goal of psychotherapy is to help clients better regulate their emotions, manage stress, and understand their behavioral patterns and how they may affect their personal relationships.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Mental health counselors work with clients in structured, limited sessions. CBT helps clients become aware of their negative thinking in order to respond in a more effective way.
- Medications: Medical professionals may prescribe medication for anxiety in addition to therapy as part of an individual’s treatment method. Medication options include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers used to control physical symptoms.
Everyone is different and will benefit from different treatment methods. This is why it’s important to work with treatment professionals to establish a plan that’s right for you.
If you have found yourself struggling with anxiety, you may be experiencing a sense of hopelessness- that nothing can help you escape these feelings. It’s normal to feel this way with severe anxiety, but rest assured that you are not alone. At Overland IOP, we dedicate the time to address any co-occurring disorders that could be exacerbating your anxiety. That way, we can bring your anxious reactions under control in order to replace negative thoughts and start the journey towards healing. A positive healthy life is possible with anxiety, and we’re here to help you take that first step.