Anxiety Disorders

In our second blog on anxiety, we are going to look at the different types of anxiety that are most common.

People who suffer with an anxiety disorder have most likely collided with people who simply don’t understand the disorder.  They’ve heard comments like “why can’t you just get over it?”, or “what are you so afraid of?”.  It’s then left up to the afflicted person to try and offer an explanation when they really don’t know the answer at all.  Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 37% of those suffering receive treatment.  These disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.  Some of the more commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders are listed below with a brief definition of the symptoms.  But remember:  Anxiety is not a single disorder.  This is incredibly important.  Anxiety has hundreds, possibly thousands of symptoms, but these symptoms may change depending on the type of anxiety you have.  Anxiety disorders are an umbrella term for a group of anxiety conditions, each of which has its own unique signs and symptoms.  These anxiety disorders include:

*Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Chronic, exaggerated worry about normal everyday routines, events and activities that has lasted at least six months.  Expecting or anticipating the worst even when there’s no reason for it.  It’s usually accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.

*Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  Repeated, intrusive, and unwanted thoughts or rituals that seem impossible to control.  The average onset is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by age 14.  One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.

*Panic Disorder.  Characterized by panic attacks.  Sudden feelings of extreme fear and terror that strike repeatedly and without warning.  Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, and fear of dying.

*Phobia.  Extreme, disabling and irrational fear of something that poses little to no danger.  This fear leads to avoidance of certain objects or situations which can put limits on the individual’s life.

*Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as war, sexual assault, natural disasters, loss of loved one, and even traffic accidents.  Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression, feeling angry, irritable, distracted, and being easily startled are all common symptoms of PTSD.

 *Social Anxiety Disorder.  The fear of social situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or places where there is the possibility of scrutiny by others.  The individual fears that they will act in a way that will be embarrassing and humiliating.  This leads to the avoidance of social situations and they may experience severe distress when social participation cannot be avoided.  According to a 2014 ADAA survey, 36% of people with this disorder reported experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Many people who suffer with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult.  It’s essential to be treated for both disorders.  The most common co-occurrence(s) for those with anxiety disorders include but are not limited to: Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Sleep Disorders, Substance Abuse, Adult ADHD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Chronic Pain, and Fibromyalgia.  In our final discussion, we will explore the treatments that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of some of these treatments. So, don’t reach for that chill pill just yet!!  The answers may surprise you!!