What Is Anxiety?
We all struggle with anxiety from time to time. You may get nervous before a test, or you could find yourself anxious about finances or relationships. While anxiety is a naturally occurring response to stressful situations, some people experience undue levels of anxiety that can hinder their ability to lead a normal life.
Regular anxiety is usually linked to a particular cause, and can be fixed once a problem is addressed. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, can include persistent worry and fear that disrupts day-to-day life and affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life. From physical health, social problems and psychological distress, anxiety makes everyday life feel insurmountable.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental and physiological response. The body has a natural “fight or flight” response that is triggered when it perceives a threat. Anxiety can convince your body that everything is a threat, even things you cannot see or put into words.
When people struggle with anxiety disorders, their mind is consumed with worst-case scenarios. Their bodies are constantly on high alert, ready to react to a potential threat that most likely will never come to be.
The average age of onset for anxiety is 31 years old, and women are more likely than men to be diagnosed. However, anxiety can occur in children and adolescents as well.
How Does Anxiety Affect Your Body?
Chronic anxiety has a variety of negative side-effects on the body, including panic and anxiety attacks. During these attacks, people may feel their heart “beating out of their chest” and have difficulty breathing.
Anxiety can also cause less severe (but equally upsetting) symptoms including headaches, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, muscle aches, low libido and extreme fatigue that persists no matter how much you sleep.
Anxiety can also cause people to experience depression. Constant worry, racing thoughts and physical side-effects of anxiety can make it difficult to find joy in life. Some signs of depression include social withdrawal, loss of appetite, inability to feel happiness or enjoy once-pleasurable activities and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
What Are the Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
When chronic anxiety lasts for a long period of time, it can become a clinical disorder. There are also different types of anxiety that have their own unique symptoms and diagnoses.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is defined by a constant sense of anxiety for no distinguishable reason. People who have GAD feel excessive worry over everything, from their job performance to their relationships. They may even feel extremely anxious and fearful even when they cannot figure out why.
In order to be diagnosed with GAD, the anxiety must persist for at least six months. There are different levels of severity, so some people with GAD may be able to perform their daily responsibilities while others struggle to even leave the house.
Social Anxiety Disorder
The fear of embarrassing oneself, being mocked, ridiculed and rejected in social situations causes people with social anxiety to fear interaction with others.
The average onset of social anxiety is 13, but many adults struggle with a social phobia too.
There are many different types of OCD, but every person with this anxiety disorder tends to experience overwhelming fear and worry that something bad will happen if they don’t do a particular thing.
Someone with OCD may excessively clean their house and themselves for fear of being contaminated and falling ill. Another person with OCD might be afraid that if they don’t do something “perfectly” that they will be punished. Others still might need to count and order everything in a highly specific fashion, otherwise, they cannot concentrate. They may also hold certain superstitions about different colors, numbers, alignments and objects.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
People who experience a traumatic event may become extremely sensitive to their environment and triggers that remind them of the event. War veterans are most often associated with PTSD, but everyday citizens can also develop this anxiety disorder.
PTSD can occur out of the blue, months or even years after a trauma. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, feeling “numb,” having trouble sleeping, feeling jumpy and being easily startled or angered.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Different types of anxiety present unique symptoms. Someone may have chronic anxiety and never experience a panic attack while others may constantly be on-edge. The general symptoms of anxiety include:
- Intrusive, unwanted thoughts that make it difficult to concentrate
- Persistent worry
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Pounding heart, shortness of breath
- Nausea and/or an upset stomach with no identifiable cause
What Is the Treatment for Anxiety?
No matter how severe, anxiety can be treated. Therapy is the best way to tackle anxiety as a counselor can help people uncover the underlying causes of their concern. In therapy, people can also learn effective coping mechanisms and self-soothing strategies.
If you or a loved one struggle with anxiety, we’re here for you. Our treatment programs are designed to help everyone deal with their mental health struggles in a healthier way and restore a sense of control and purpose.
Contact us today to learn more about our anxiety treatment programs.