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Anxiety Disorders and When To Get Help

Posted 08-15-2017

Anxiety is a natural emotion that all humans experience throughout their life. This sometimes makes it hard for people to understand that there is a difference between “normal” anxiety and an actual anxiety disorder. Most people will feel nervous before a big presentation or worry about a problem at work or within a relationship and these things may create a feeling of anxiety that passes in little to no time at all. For someone that has an anxiety disorder though, these feelings can become disabling and make everyday tasks impossible for a variety of reasons. So how do you know if your anxiety is considered normal or if you have a disorder that you need to seek professional help for?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Approximately 40 million people over the age of 18 are affected by an anxiety disorder. That’s 18% of our population. It’s important to understand that there are a few types of disorders that live under this umbrella of anxiety. Each of them have different triggers and reactions, which varies with each individual as well.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Feelings of excessive worry and tension are present throughout the day or for small portions at a time with little to no reason. Many people will ask what it is that you are anxious about and you don’t have an answer. You just feel on edge and panicked for no general reason. GAD affects 6.8 million adults in the US and women are twice as likely to be affected as men.  

Panic Disorder

Heightened feelings of fear or terror come on quickly without the ability to calm oneself or rationalize what is happening. Typically this causes panic attacks and a person may feel heart palpitations, have chest pains, feel a shortness of breath, hyperventilate, sweat, or have pains in their hands or feet. Panic disorders affect 6 million people in the US and women are twice as likely to be affected as men. This disorder is often seen in combination with major depression.

Specific Phobias

The feeling of intense fears of specific situations, objects or areas. The fear is so strong that it can cause a person to just avoid that situation all together or it can trigger panic attacks as mentioned above. This can be as simple as a fear of heights or water, but these feelings of fear go beyond what’s appropriate and may cause someone to avoid ordinary situations. 19 million people in the US suffer from Specific Phobias and they typically begin in childhood around the age of 7. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

Social Anxiety Disorder

. This can also be classified as social phobia. This can cause overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. People with this type of anxiety have irrational fears that people are constantly judging or talking about them and have an overwhelming fear of being embarrassed, ridiculed or disliked. In the US, there are 15 million people that are affected by social anxiety disorder. It is equally common among men and women and usually begins to develop in your early teens.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

While there are many different types of anxiety disorders, many times the symptoms are very much the same.

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling of extreme panic, fear or uneasiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pains or feeling like there is something heavy on your chest
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingly or numb hands or feet
  • Sudden onset of sweating

The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable with professional help. Only about one-third of people suffering from anxiety disorders will actually seek the help they need. This is why it is so important to educate our communities about mental illnesses in general and that they affect millions of individuals. If you are affected by any type of anxiety disorder, please know that you are not alone. Seek help as soon as you realize that anxiety is affecting your decision making as well as your overall happiness. Anxiety can be consuming and exhausting. With professional care using therapy, medication or a combination of both you have the power to learn to control your anxiety and let it stop controlling you.

If you or someone you love suffers from an anxiety disorder and needs help, please visit us online to learn more about Port Health or give us a call at one of our office locations. We offer a variety of both outpatient and inpatient services that can help get you back on the road to wellness.