Anxiety and fear are both parts of life. Many people lead an overworked, high stress, perfectionistic lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is the lifestyle that is causing so many people to suffer from anxiety in the U.S.
The symptoms of anxiety are vast. However, despite the different forms of anxiety disorders, they share a single, major symptom - severe, persistent worry or fear in situations that the majority of individuals would not feel threatened.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) provides the following U.S. statistics:
- Affecting roughly 40 million adults (appromixmately 18 percent of the population) annually, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S.
- Anxiety disorders are extremely treatable, but less then 40 percent of sufferers receive proper treatment.
- Anxiety disorders can develop from a wide range of risk factors, which can include:
- Life Events
- Brain Chemistry
- Individuals with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to visit a health care provider and six times more likely to be placed in the hospital for psychiatric disorders than individuals who do not suffer from an anxiety disorder.
We must also consider anxiety’s role in conjunction with depression. Many individuals with this type of disorder typically suffer from depression at one point or another. Depression and anxiety are believed to come from the same biological vulnerability. This could explain why the two typically go together.
Becuase depression can frequently create the symptoms of anxiety (and vice versa), it is vital that an individual seek medical treatment for both of these conditions. Nearly 50 percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Seeking assistance, support and treatment can help reduce anxiety as well as determining techniques that can help to prevent or avoid anxiety prior to it becoming a problem in a person’s life.
Panic disorder is a specific form of anxiety disorder. This form results in panic attacks (sudden feelings of terror for no particular reason).
There are also some physical symptoms that may be present, including the following:
- Breathing Difficulty
- Chest Pain
- Accelorated Heart Rate
Panic attacks can occur at any given time, at any location and without any warning. An individual often lives in fear of when another attack will strike and typically avoids places that they have previously had an attack. In severe cases, fear will take over their lives culminating in a fear to even leave their houses.
Panic disorders are typically more common in women than in men, and symptoms generally begin to become evident in young adults. In some cases, it will begin when an individual is under a great deal of stress, but most individuals do get better with the right course of treatment. Therapy assists in showing individuals how to recognize and adjust thinking patterns leading to a panic attack.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is another kind of anxiety disorder. It’s partially defined as including obsessions (upsetting, repeated thoughts). In an attempt to make these obsessions go away, individuals will do the same exact thing over and over again. These repeated actions are known as compulsions.
Examples of obsessions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The fear of being hurt
- The fear of germs
Examples of compulsions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Washing your hands compulsively
- Checking on things compulsively
- Cleaning compulsively
- Counting compusively
When OCD is left untreated, it can take control of your life.
Researchers believe that an an individual suffering from OCD has brain circuits that may not be working adequately. OCD is a disorder that often runs in families, and the symptoms for the disorder typically begin to appear in children or teenagers.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Despite what many people may believe, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a real illness. It often develops after seeing or living through a traumatic event, like a war, hurricane, physical abuse, rape, or bad accident. PTSD causes the suffering individual to feel afraid and stressed even once the danger is over. It can significantly affect one’s life as well as the individuals around you.
PTSD has the ability to cause a variety of issues, including the following:
- Feeling worried, sad, or guilty
- Feeling alone
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares
- Flashbacks or feeling as if the traumatic event is occurring all over again
- Angry outbursts
PTSD can occur at any time in life and can occur at different times in life for different individuals. Signs of the disorder can occur soon after the traumatic experience and can produce more severe or new signs months, or even years, later. PTSD can occur to anyone, including children.
Medications can help individuals feel less tense and afraid, but it often takes at least a few weeks for it to fully kick in. In many cases, individivals suffering from PTSD find it beneficial to talk to a professional counselor or doctor. This is known as talk therapy and is highly encouraged.
Phobia is another type of anxiety disorder, and it is considered to be a very strong and unjustifiable fear of something that poses minimal to no actual danger. There are a variety of specific phobias.
For instance, acrophobia is the fear of heights. You may have no trouble skiing down one of the country’s tallest mountains, but you may be scared to death to go higher than the 5th floor of a building. Agoraphobia is the fear of public places, and claustrophobia is the fear of closed-in, tight places. Some people have social phobia in which they are tremendously self-conscious or extremely anxious when in everyday, social situations. There are many other phobias, such as those that involve highway driving, flying, water, tunnels, blood and even animals.
Individuals with phobias generally attempt to avoid whatever it is that causes their fear. However, in some instances, they are not able to do so. When this is the case, they may experience some of the following symptoms:
- A very strong sense to get away from the situation
- Panic and Fear
- Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Heartbeat
Thankfully, there are medical treatments for individuals with phobias. These treatments include medications, therapy, and likely, a combination of both.
To learn more about any of these anxiety disorders, or if you believe that you may have one of them, contact the professionals at Shadow Mountain Recovery so that we can discuss your individual situation, such as your symptoms, and determine how we can move forward.
Don’t wait another day to get the help you or a loved one needs. Call us now.