To better understand anxiety in its various forms, below you will find a wide selection of articles that provide information about the signs, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of different anxiety disorders.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Anxiety Can Get Out of Control
Hopefully the above articles about how an anxiety disorder might impact an individual were helpful. Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. People get anxious for all sorts of reasons including trouble with their relationships or problems at work. Remember there is a difference between feeling occasionally nervous and having an anxiety disorder.
There are times when you may experience the symptoms of anxiety, such as when you’re about to take a test. It’s natural to feel anxious then. However if you’re regularly experiencing high levels of intense anxiety that are out of proportion to the actual events that are occurring in your daily life - there may be an issue. It’s not normal to experience excessive anxiety with no apparent cause for extended periods of time.
Anxiety disorder symptoms include experiencing intense anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual situation at hand - on a regular basis.
Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders. Common forms of anxiety include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders. Anxiety disorder symptoms can vary in severity depending on the person who is experiencing it. Anxiety disorder can be a severe condition that impacts your body and mind. It can be challenging to explain it to others who aren’t feeling it. Everyone’s signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder are unique, but remember that your anxiety is real.
Clinical anxiety is one type of anxiety that is far more severe than having jitters. Intense anxiety disorders are persistent and impact an individual’s quality of life, including their relationships, jobs, and physical health. People with a specific phobia and intense anxiety disorders need treatment to manage the symptoms and to develop healthy living routines.
Anxiety disorders can aggravate other existing mental health issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety. Social anxiety can interfere with your daily functioning and can lead to a medical illness if left untreated.
Exposure therapy is one of the best treatments for managing social anxiety. This specific object based therapy helps patients overcome anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety by introducing the anxiety causing stimulus in small doses during exposure therapy sessions.
The purpose of exposure therapy is to mitigate the common anxiety symptoms that keep people from living normal lives. Common anxiety symptoms include - rapid heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, and digestive issues.
You’re Not Making It Up
Anxiety is real. It is a close relative to our natural Fight or Flight mechanism. When you have anxiety, there will be people that don’t understand what you’re going through and make judgments. They might believe you’re making your symptoms up or that you just need to “push through” it. But what you’re feeling is real. People living with anxiety can have a variety of different conditions such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder or Social Anxiety.
These are all diagnosed conditions that you can get more information about from your therapist or counselor. There are many coping techniques for anxiety, and there’s no one right way to manage it. One of the most important things to remember is that you’re allowed to feel your feelings, and your anxiety is valid and real.
As levels of anxiety rise, physical symptoms of anxiety begin to present themselves in the form of increasing muscle tension, increased heart rate, and chest pain from what appear to be everyday situations. Family members may not recognize that you’re experiencing anxiety until they notice physical symptoms of anxiety and panic in response to everyday life events.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With Generalized Anxiety Disorder, worrying is a common symptom. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) impacts a person’s mind to the point where they’re consistently preoccupied with worries. They might fixate on something terrible happening even though they have no evidence that there is danger. People with GAD prepare themselves for the worst case scenario and tend to believe that these adverse outcomes are probable. They worry about a variety of issues such as their health, relationships, money problems or psychological state. People with GAD find it challenging to manage their worries and spend a lot of time in their heads. Even though they don’t want to worry, they can’t seem to stop the behavior. They prepare themselves for a devastating outcome. GAD is a common and highly treatable disorder. Many of our therapist specialize in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
Panic Disorder is a condition where a person gets a feeling of heaviness or dread and experiences a panic attack. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, shaking, sweating and a sense of impending disaster or doom. Panic attacks come on without warning and can happen anywhere. They might occur on the job, while taking public transportation, driving, or while spending a day with a friend. Some people have panic attacks occasionally, while others experience frequent episodes of panic. Those who suffer from recurring panic attacks may have Panic Disorder. It’s important to get evaluated by a mental health professional to find out the severity of your panic attacks. If you’re having a panic attack and feeling scared, remember that they always end. Panic typically peaks around 20 minutes and then the feelings subside. The old adage “take a deep breath” can help break the attack and offer you a quick and easy solution.
Coping Techniques for Anxiety
There are many different coping strategies and treatment methods for managing the symptoms of anxiety disorders. This is where CBT can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the more common treatments used for anxiety disorders. It teaches you methods of balancing the logical side of your brain with the emotional side. By logically thinking through your situation, you can better control your behaviors.
The anxious person often lets their feelings be in control of their mind. For example, a person with Panic Disorder might feel like their friends don’t really like them and react when they are in a group. When they take the time to examine the evidence, they might realize that they have several good friends but that they are subtly pushing them away by their behaviors. This can cause a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of the more common treatment options for managing anxiety is meditation or mindfulness.
People who have a history of anxiety may have trouble staying in the present moment even when they aren’t in actual danger. Trouble concentrating on the here and now can aggravate underlying medical issues related to anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, feelings of anxiety can wreak havoc on mental and physical health.
Mindfulness meditation is about practicing awareness in your mind and body. It helps the individual to stay in the present, rather than focusing on the past or the future. A person who practices mindfulness turns inward and focuses on how their body feels. Mindfulness derives from Eastern medicine, but it’s been adopted by Western culture, and become quite popular in treating anxiety disorders. It was first introduced to The United States by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., who works at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It’s gained recognition over the past 30 years. Kabat-Zinn founded a stress reduction clinic, and because of his efforts, mindfulness is recognized as a very effective treatment for anxiety.
Get Help for Anxiety
Anxiety is treatable, and there are mental health professionals who understand what you’re going through. You don’t have to suffer alone with your anxious thoughts and feelings. Anxiety can amplify your feelings, and make you believe that your problems are insurmountable. That’s not true, and you CAN get support and you CAN feel better. You’re entitled to live a fulfilling life, and part of that is learning to cope with anxiety. Online counseling is an excellent option for people who are struggling with anxiety. If you would like more personalized assistance, you might want to speak with one of our licensed counselors that can help you today. Not only do we have a growing list of more than 8,000 online mental health therapists, but we've had more than 500,000 sign up to use our online counseling services. Get the help you need to manage anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Selective mutism
- Heart palpitations
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Trouble staying asleep
- Unexplained weight gain/loss
- Irrational fear
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there is more than one type of anxiety disorder. Common anxiety disorders include the following:
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Clinical Anxiety
Research conducted by the American Psychiatric Association suggests that there are a few easily identifiable risk factors for developing anxiety. One of these risk factors is experiencing excessive anxiety inducing situations as a child. A common example would be child abuse. Another risk factor is a predisposition to mental illness and genetically related mental disorders that runs in the family.
Rule out the possibility that another underlying medical condition (including other mental health disorders) is aggravating or causing your anxiety disorder as a component of seeking treatment.
Anxiety Treatment options
Behavioral therapy helps people suffering from anxiety disorders to identify the object or situation that is triggering symptoms of anxiety. This behavior based therapy Introduces stress management techniques that help mitigate the physical symptoms of anxiety. Behavioral therapy sessions can be conducted as individual or group sessions. Support group sessions with others who have an anxiety disorder can provide real-life coping strategies.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the treatment of mental health disorders including substance abuse and anxiety disorders. Behavioral therapy provides behavior modification treatments for anxiety disorders by reframing thoughts and behaviors
Stress management is one of the most important treatments for anxiety and is a component of cognitive-behavioral therapy. People with anxiety disorders can discuss important health topics and learn how to manage the symptoms of anxiety by joining a support group where they can discuss stress management techniques for specific phobias. For example, support groups can act as a forum for members who share a common phobia to learn new ways to interact with their environment. Since there are other people who share this common trait, you can learn from each other and share a common wealth of knowledge.
Clinical trials operate like a support group and focus on finding new treatments, talk therapy, and medication for treating anxiety disorders and related medical conditions. Patients who agree to participate in clinical trials have agreed to help doctors find new treatments for anxiety disorders. Participants in clinical trials are made aware of any potential side-effects of treatments provided during the trial.
Developing an Anxiety Disorder
Developing an anxiety disorder is normally an unconscious process. Having flashbacks of past traumatic events can trigger high levels of anxiety and contribute to mental illness. These thoughts can trigger our Fight or Flight system and result in the release of adrenalin. Adrenalin is the body’s natural way to defend ourselves and prepare for a fight. It causes our capillaries to constrict, our digestion to slow down, our heart rate to increase and our breathing to quicken.
Children who have witnessed or experienced abuse are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Left untreated, bouts of intense anxiety can develop into an even more severe mental illness or medical illness. Some adults have even developed thyroid problems as a side effect of untreated anxiety.
Lack of proper health care and not taking care of your physical health can be a component of developing an anxiety disorder. Lack of healthy diet, exercise, and sleeping habits can make you more susceptible to mental and physical health issues.
Combat anxiety and panic attacks by introducing components of healthy living into your everyday routine. Activities like practicing mindfulness, meditation, and eating fresh foods are great ways to introduce new healthy living strategies into your life.