Anxiety Disorders

Feeling anxious is a normal response of the human body, and can help keep people be aware of their surroundings and safe in many situations. Sometimes, however, anxiety can be so strong and overwhelming that it begins to have a controlling influence in a person’s life, potentially keeping them from engaging in the daily activities that they once enjoyed. Those who are concerned that they should seek counseling for anxiety can learn more about the condition and ways to manage their symptoms.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to the regular stressors that affect individuals in their daily lives. They often experience worry, unease or nervousness regarding an upcoming event or something with an outcome that they cannot easily predict. People often experience normal anxious feelings when meeting new people, competing, taking an important exam, or prior to a job interview.

A disorder occur when individuals begin reacting strongly to stressful situations. Some forms of the condition are severe enough that people become anxious over non-stressful situation as well, which can have a negative impact in almost every area of their lives. Mental health professionals have identified a wide variety of related disorders, including the following:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety?

Normal anxiety only occurs briefly and is relatively mild. When the anxious feelings remain for six months or more, it is generally considered to be a disorder. Although every form of the various disorders has different symptoms, individuals with the condition usually experience irrational, excessive fear and dread. These feelings are not always associated with a stressor and many individuals feel anxious all of the time without understanding why.

A person who has an upcoming appointment with their doctor, for example, may be nervous about discussing sensitive issues and potential problems, which is a normal reaction. Those with a disorder often experience weeks of worry before their appointment, and the symptoms often increase directly prior to and during their appointment.

How Does Anxiety Manifest?

Those with a disorder may become disproportionately anxious to the stressor that causes the problem to begin with. Due to the changing stressors of daily life, once one stressor passes, another often takes its place, causing anxious feelings to remain steady for weeks and months at a time.

Physical symptoms often occur in those with an anxiety disorder. Dizziness, sweating, light-headedness, trembling, pounding heart, nausea and headaches are all common symptoms. Many individuals also report an inability to breathe or speak and being disconnected from reality. These symptoms may surface due to normal stressors or in severe cases, on a day-to-day basis. Alcohol or drug abuse may mask or increase these common symptoms.

People of all ages can have a disorder manifest in this way. However, children who are unable to express themselves may experience irritability, tantrums, insomnia, and an inability to be away from loved ones.

Who Is At Risk for Developing an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. It affects around 40 million adults every year. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with one of the disorders by 60 percent. Hispanics are 30 percent less likely to experience symptoms of a disorder than non-Hispanic whites, and Non-Hispanic blacks are 20 percent less likely. Nationally, it is estimated that 8 percent of teens have one or more kinds of these disorders.

When to Seek Treatment

Those who commonly experience some of the symptoms of anxiety disorder should seek counseling for anxiety as soon as possible. While individuals who suffer from these disorders often feel alone and misunderstood, there are many professionals ready and waiting to help them receive the treatment that they need in order to regain their lives.