Everyone feels anxious sometimes. In fact, most of our behavior is motivated by anxiety. You go to work because you would get in trouble and not get paid if you didn’t show up. Today, you are worried about your anxiety, or that of your loved one, so you are searching online for help. Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, uncertainty, worry, or fear that triggers the body’s stress response in reaction to a threat, which may or may not be real. Unfortunately, sometimes, anxiety can grow out of control, taking over our lives and making us so afraid that we have a difficult time functioning. In these instances, anxiety becomes more than just annoying. It becomes a chronic condition that may require medical intervention and treatment. Thankfully, anxiety is no longer a problem that needs to be kept in the dark. Indeed, according to available information, anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million people. This makes anxiety disorders among the most common that Americans endure.
If you are looking for information about how anxiety can be managed, there is good news because a variety of high-quality sources of information exist that can provide you with this information. One perfect example is the The National Mental Health Hotline, which provides a wide array of information on what anxiety is, how it can be treated, and where such treatment can be found. You may access the information at The National Mental Health Hotline by calling 866-903-3787.
Stages of Anxiety
- No anxiety–of course this is good but sometimes we do have worries or concerns.
- Mild anxiety–this is normal and healthy. If you have a job interview or are taking an exam, mild anxiety helps you focus and do the right thing.
- Moderate anxiety–in this condition, the person could still function, but their focus is narrower. They may have trouble concentrating and making decisions.
- Severe and panic anxiety, “panic attacks” when anxiety gets to this point, the person cannot cope, cannot function, and he or she needs help.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders occur when anxiety begins to take over your life and make it extremely difficult for you to function. This is more than just being afraid about a specific situation because that type of fear tends to abate when the situation that you are experiencing goes away. Anxiety disorders are much more significant. There are different definitions for different anxiety disorders, but they all essentially include a persistent, debilitating fear and a fear of becoming more afraid.
• Physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, rapid heart rate, or an upset stomach
• An overwhelming sense of fear, worry, or dread
• Difficulty concentrating, focusing, working, or studying
• A feeling that you are going to lose control or consciousness at any moment, requiring hospitalization or medical attention
Unfortunately, anxiety disorders commonly co-occur with other disorders. For example, anxiety disorders are common in people who suffer from a variety of other mental illnesses, including eating disorders, depression, substance use disorder, and more. These related conditions can make treating the other disease more challenging.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are generally believed to have strong genetic components. Multiple studies have found that there are specific chromosomal characteristics that are found in people who have anxiety. These characteristics are passed from one generation to the next with clear evidence indicating that the related types of anxiety disorders can also be passed from one generation to another. While these genetic markers do not guarantee that someone will suffer from anxiety disorders, it does appear to increase the likelihood that this will happen.
For some disorders, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a specific, real-world trigger is required for someone to experience the disease. However, a genetic predisposition can make an individual more likely to experience anxiety. There is also no question that a variety of negative life events can lead to anxiety disorders. Such occurrences include a death in the family, a loss of a job, or a change in financial status. More than other forms of mental illness, a traumatic event, like an assault or accident, can lead to some sort of anxiety disorder as well. It is also possible that a variety of minor life changes will lead to major anxiety challenges.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many types of anxiety disorders. These disorders vary widely and may express themselves in many different ways. They are likely to develop in response to a variety of circumstances and situations that can be very unpleasant. While anxiety and fear are at the core of all of these instances, anxiety expresses itself in different ways. Examples of anxiety include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A Generalized Anxiety Disorder is among the more common anxiety disorders. It is specifically defined as an inability to shake a sense of fear or dread, a free-floating sense of anxiety, and a constant state of worry or concern. It is also defined as being completely unable to relax and living in a constant state of fear or tension. Symptoms of this disorder include a constantly moving brain, fatigue, stress, tension, and having a difficult time relaxing. The severity of the disorder may constantly shift throughout the day; there may be times where it is barely noticeable, and there may be other moments where it is nearly overwhelming.
When someone thinks of an anxiety attack or a panic attack, he or she is likely thinking of a panic disorder. Panic disorders are defined as the continued experience of panic attacks. Panic attacks are truly terrifying experiences. They involve an overwhelming sense of dread, fear, or loss of control. Someone who is experiencing a panic attack may feel as if he or she is dying and may believe that he or she will die or “lose control” and have to be hospitalized at any moment. They are also accompanied by a variety of extremely painful and frightening physical symptoms, including accelerated breathing and heart rate, dizziness, an upset stomach, sweating, trembling, and more.
Someone who is suffering from a panic disorder can be treated by addressing the source of the panic and being taught how to talk themselves out of these panic attacks. Medication can also be very helpful for panic attacks, both in terms of preventing an attack from happening in the first place, stopping an attack from occurring, or helping to reduce the overall baseline level of anxiety and enable therapy to work.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders occur when someone repeatedly and obsessively engages in certain ritualistic behaviors. This can occur in many forms, which include counting, ticking, cleaning, or touching certain items. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is considered an anxiety behavior because the behavior itself is usually driven by anxiety over what might happen if the specific rituals are not completed. As a result of this fear, someone is driven to engage in repeated behaviors, believing that this is the only way to make anxiety abate.
Put another way, OCD is defined by a belief that certain behaviors are good and necessary in order to ward off bad thoughts or illnesses. The individual in question knows that these compulsions are problematic, but he or she is unable to stop them. Depending on the severity of the disease, someone may spend hours engaged in a ritual, completely held a prisoner to the disorder. OCD can be debilitating and dramatically impact someone’s life. Thankfully, there are a number of treatments designed to help it, including medication and gradual exposure therapy designed to slowly desensitize someone.
We need to differentiate obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) from obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). With the former, as described above, the condition can be very disabling to the person and they have a lot of problems in their everyday life. With obsessive compulsive personality disorder, the condition is not so disabling. The person with OCPD may be very careful and thorough doing a task or keep their home perfectly clean or always take their medication at 10:00 PM. They do this because they become anxious if they do not keep to their routine. If this lesser obsessive-compulsive malady becomes a problem in the person’s daily life, work, or relationships, he or she can consult a psychiatrist or therapist for medication or talk therapy.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common for someone who has experienced a traumatic event. This event can vary and can include being part of a violent event, a sexual assault, a robbery, or other traumatic events. PTSD is tragically common among members of the military who have experienced any number of violent events. PTSD is caused by someone being unable to process his or her traumatic experience and come to any sort of closure with it. As a result, that person’s brain will replay the experience over and over again.
Symptoms of PTSD include constant flashbacks and nightmares, intrusive and uncontrolled memories, anxiety attacks, generalized anxiety, and an inability to function. Victims may blame themselves for the experience, noting that if they had just done one thing differently, they may have experienced a different outcome. Thankfully, this form of anxiety can be controlled with proper treatment.
A social phobia, also known as a social anxiety disorder, is the name for someone who is deeply afraid of being judged by others. As a result of this fear, the person may be less willing, or completely unwilling, to appear in any number of social situations.
This phobia can occur in varying degrees. It may be that someone is unwilling to make a presentation in public because they are afraid of being laughed at. Conversely, it may be so severe that someone doesn’t want to ever leave their home and morphs into agoraphobia, which literally means “fear of the marketplace;” this is a diagnosis given to people who are afraid to be among groups of people. Social phobias are common, with an estimated 15 million Americans suffering from them.
How Anxiety Disorders Can Be Treated
Thankfully, despite its varying nature and potentially debilitating symptom set, anxiety disorders are very treatable. Treatment forms can be broken down into roughly two categories.
Pharmacological Treatment for Anxiety
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders take medication to help them manage their symptoms. A variety of medications can be given for anxiety management. These include antidepressants that can manage serotonin levels, tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and more.
Benzodiazepines are also common for people suffering from anxiety disorders. These are tranquilizers that can calm someone down and potentially help them to ward off or end an anxiety attack. Depending on the dose, these can be very powerful drugs. Unfortunately, Benzos are highly addictive, and the use of these drugs can lead to addiction. As such, individuals need to be very careful with their use of these types of medications.
Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety
A variety of behavioral treatments, when managed by a trained professional, can be hugely beneficial when it comes to coping with anxiety. In fact, for many people, the physical feelings of anxiety can be lessened through learning how to alter and control their own behaviors. Possible behavioral treatments include a number of different therapies:
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which manages how someone thinks about specific experiences or events, helping to turn those thoughts away from anxiety-producing reactions
• Exposure Therapy, which involves gradual and controlled exposure to the anxiety-producing stimulus
• Lifestyle changes that are designed to reduce anxiety overall, including art therapy, relaxation techniques, exercise, and more
Thankfully, there are many ways that you can get more information about what anxiety is and where you can find treatment. One such example is by calling any number of anxiety hotlines. These hotlines can help you identify if you or someone you love is suffering from an anxiety disorder and can help you find ways to get treatment. The Mental Health Hotline, available at 866-903-3787, can get you the information that you need about anxiety. In addition, the representatives that you will speak to can point you toward resources that can help you recover. Don’t wait. If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder, you deserve to live a happy life. Call 866-903-3787 today.