Anxiety, or an anxiety disorder, is rooted in an intense fear brought on by a typically non-threatening situation. Anxiety incites feelings of worry, discomfort,restlessness, and general anxiety; ultimately interfering with one’s day-to-day activities.
Specific anxiety disorders may include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder,phobias,etc.
Anxiety is common among adults and children across the United States. Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (almost 18.1% of the population) every year. Additionally, anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old.
Please note: Anxiety disorders are not limited to any particular gender, age, or other demographic.
Specialists believe many factors can influence anxious tendencies over time. Those at risk to specific anxiety disorders may have tendencies that correlate to one or more of these triggers:
- Has experienced one or more traumatic events (i.e., physical or emotional abuse, death of a loved one, violence, physical accident, prolonged illness, etc.)
- Has other medical conditions (hyperthyroidism, diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism,drug addiction, asthma, etc.)
- Lives a stressful lifestyle
- Has a genetic predisposal to anxiety
- Has experienced general alcohol or drug abuse
Individuals with anxiety may experience one or more of the following symptoms.
- Emotional (feelings of apprehension, dread, restlessness, irritability, fear, worry, panic,etc.)
- Physical (racing heart, sweating, tremors, twitching, restless movement, trouble breathing, headaches, insomnia, weakness, upset stomach, physical avoidance, etc.)
Specific anxiety disorders may present unique symptoms.Speak to your primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis based on those symptoms. Common anxiety disorders may manifest themselves in these forms:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: persistent, unexplained worry or fear regarding ordinary activities
- Panic disorder:repetitive episodes of anxiety that quickly peak often accompanied by intense physical symptoms
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: unreasonable fears that trigger compulsive behaviors
- Post-traumatic stress disorder:anxious tendencies stemming from a difficult recovery from a traumatizing event
- Social anxiety disorder:feelings of worry, fear, or restlessness brought on by social encounters
- Phobias:feelings of worry, fear, or restlessness brought on by specific objects, behaviors,or environments
Your primary care physician will guide you through an initial diagnosis. If the primary care physician cannot accomplish this based on the resources available, he or she may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
A psychologist is a physician skilled in observing, interpreting, and recording a patient’s varied mental states and behaviors. The psychologist will use this information to help diagnose the patient. If the patient is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the psychologist will begin appropriate treatment to work through anxious tendencies and thought processes.
A psychiatrist is a physician skilled in psychiatry, a branch of medicine dedicated to mental health. The psychiatrist can diagnose a patient and offer appropriate prescription treatment if the patient is severely affected by one or more anxiety disorders.
Based on your unique symptoms and other preexisting medical conditions, a medical expert can diagnose your condition. If diagnosed, you will be provided with more information regarding your specific anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder will likely require some form of treatment. Your physician will recommend appropriate treatment which may include (but is not limited to):
- Therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy or meditation)
- Medication (antidepressants with a concentration on anxiety, anxiolytics, sedatives, nerve pain medication, etc.)
- Self-care (physical exercise, sobriety, healthy diet, increased water consumption,reduced caffeine consumption, etc.)