The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million Americans, or 18% of the population 18 and older. But not everyone experiences anxiety the same way. There are multiple anxiety disorders, and understanding the signs, the various types of anxiety, and treatment options can help you identify and manage your own symptoms.
Everyone experiences anxiety occasionally, but when you feel anxious most of the time, or it starts to impact your daily life, it can be a sign that something else is going on. In such cases, seeking therapy for reducing anxiety can be beneficial. Some people are more likely to experience anxiety than others, including:
Adults and childhood victims of trauma
People who have stress due to a medical illness
People who have let stress build-up, up and have no healthy release
Individuals with anxious personality types
Individuals who also experience anxiety along with
Individuals with a familial history of anxiety
Individuals who use drugs and alcohol
Females are 50% more likely to experience anxiety
Anxiety Symptoms and Signs
Do I have anxiety? You may notice the following symptoms and signs in yourself or others:
Poor Memory, Focus, And Concentration - If you have anxiety, you may find it harder to focus on tasks and struggle to recall information or find it difficult to concentrate on a particular job or item that needs to be done. You are easily distracted and on edge.
Tension, Irritability, And Worry - You may notice muscle tension and aches and pains or be more easily irritated with people and situations, often "snapping" at people. You worry often and struggle to turn the intrusive and negative thoughts off.
Feeling A Loss Of Control And Nervousness - People with anxiety might feel as if they have no control over their life and that something bad happening is inevitable. You may find it difficult to leave the house, attend social events or work, and even struggle to relax and sleep at night.
Rapid Heartbeat, Trouble Breathing, And Dizziness - You can become so anxious that your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and you start to breathe rapidly or have difficulty breathing. These factors can make you feel dizzy, a common anxiety symptom.
Sweating - Some people with anxiety become so nervous they begin to sweat, which can be a side effect of rapid heart rate, fast breathing, and shaking.
Shaking Hands And Body - If you have anxiety, you may start to shake uncontrollably. You might notice tremors in your hands, be unable to make them stop, and might even have anxiety twitching. This reaction may be due to increased adrenaline and the body's response to fear and stress.
Increased Fatigue With Associated Sleep Issues - Sleep problems may present in many ways: too much sleep, too little sleep, trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, tossing and turning all night, and daytime drowsiness. A common issue is being unable to turn your thoughts off at night and being afraid to fall asleep.
Fearing The Worst - People with anxiety may constantly fear the worst, like something will go wrong. They are also prone to catastrophizing. But what is catastrophizing? This is where you fear the worst possible case scenario.
Restlessness - You may have trouble relaxing and feel like you can't turn off your body or mind. When you have anxiety, your mind may race, and your body may not be able to settle down and get comfortable as it fears it will need to flee or move.
Headaches And Migraines - Whether or not you have a history of migraines and headaches, you may have them more frequently, and they may be more intense in nature. These are often rooted in the constant tension you are experiencing in your body.
Nausea Or Vomiting - Some people can become so anxious that they become nauseous from the stressful thoughts and physical reactions to the body. Our thoughts have a substantial impact on our bodies. Some people can become so anxious and nauseous that they may vomit.
Types of Anxiety
There are multiple types of anxiety disorders, including the following:
People with generalized anxiety often feel anxious, many without knowing the root cause. Their symptoms may be more physical than emotional.
Panic disorder includes panic attacks and fear of having one. It can become a cycle of panic and constant anxiety. These attacks can be so severe that people may feel they are having a heart attack.
Phobias are the fear of objects, people, activities, places, or specific situations. People can go to great lengths to avoid their phobias, which usually has the opposite effect of making them even stronger.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder centers on the belief that no one likes you or no one will like you in new social or work situations. Some people think of this as shyness but do not understand what is happening in the person's mind. Performance anxiety falls into this category.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This type of anxiety affects an individual after they witness or experience a traumatic event. PTSD typically has the additional anxiety symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, isolation, and avoiding situations that remind the person of the event.
How Do I Help Someone With Anxiety?
People with fear and anxiety may deal with a great deal of distress during the day, affecting their ability to function. However, being close to someone experiencing a mental health disorder, like anxiety and depression, can also cause strain in the relationship. Therefore, it is crucial to provide as much support as possible so they can overcome their distress and everyday difficulties. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ways you can assist someone with severe anxiety are:
Education yourself on health information that is related to their mental health disorder and other related disorders
Encourage them to seek health care treatment such as therapy
Help them with breathing techniques if they are experiencing a panic attack
Help them set goals for the day that will assist them in their ability to function
Show them encouragement and support
Provide them with validation
Common anxiety treatments include prescription medication and psychotherapy, though some research shows that psychotherapy is generally more effective than medication. Anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with depression, so antidepressant medication may help address symptoms.
Get Help With Therapy
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety and are curious about treatment, consider online therapy.
Some people who are dealing with anxiety may find it easier to speak with a therapist from the distance and space of being behind a screen, and you can reach out to your therapist anytime you need to. They may not always respond immediately, but they will get back to you as soon as possible.
Research shows that online therapy for anxiety is effective at treating multiple types of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, phobias, and social anxiety. If you want to learn more, reach out to a BetterHelp therapist to get started. Also, an anxiety therapist can cater to your needs and assist you in the comfort of your own home, eliminating the need for you to travel.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the US, but everyone experiences it differently. If your anxiety symptoms affect your daily life, online therapy can help you figure out how to cope.
Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety
What is anxiety?
According to the Helpguide.org, "Anxiety is the body's natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation." Anxiety symptoms are both physical and emotional responses that an individual experiences to various degrees. Many individuals experience anxiety from situations that they deem stressful such as going on a date, taking an exam, and meeting a deadline. Anxiety can be positive when it motivates us. It becomes a problem when it becomes impairing and interferes with functions of our everyday life.
Are there different types of anxiety?
Please see "Types of Anxiety" for complete definitions
- General Anxiety (6.8 million adults, 3.1% of the U.S. population)
- Panic Disorder (6 million adults, 2.7% of the U.S. population)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (2.2 million adults, 1% of the U.S. population)
- Phobias (19 million adults, 8.7% of the U.S. population)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (15 million adults, 6.8% of the U.S. population)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (7.7 million adults, 3.5% of the U.S. population)
What are anxiety symptoms and signs?
Please see "Anxiety Symptoms and Signs" for complete descriptions
Common symptoms and signs are poor memory, focus, and concentration; tension, irritability, and worry; feeling a loss of control or nervousness; rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing and dizziness; sweating; shaking hands and body; increased fatigue with associated sleep issues; fearing the worst; restlessness; physical aches and pains; headaches and migraines; and nausea and/or vomiting.
How can someone prevent and treat anxiety disorders?
While it is not possible to entirely prevent anxiety disorders, there are a number of things a person can do to lessen its effects:
- Reduce your consumption of nicotine and caffeine, and avoid their use 4-6 hours before bed.
- Start to see a therapist for anxiety to work on relaxation and stress reduction techniques.
- Start living a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise, nutritious eating and appropriate amounts of sleep.
How are Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) different from each other?
ASD is a diagnosis that is only given within the first month following a traumatic event. If stress symptoms continue for longer than a month, the diagnosis is more likely PTSD. ASD also has more dissociative symptoms. Dissociative symptoms include: feeling numb, a lack of awareness, depersonalization, derealization, or amnesia.
What are the most effective anxiety disorder treatments?
Please see "Anxiety Treatments" for full descriptions
Some ways to treat your anxiety are:
- Learn to challenge and change negative thinking
- Focus on what you have control over, and let go of what you don't
- Focus on the present, not the future
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Utilize physical, emotional, mental, and soothing "grounding" techniques
- Develop healthy eating and exercise habits
- Get enough sleep each night, and learn good sleep practices
- Reduce the use of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine
- Work with a therapist to practice CBT and exposure therapy techniques
- Investigate the themes and roots of your anxiety
- Check with your doctor about the potential use of proven supplements
- Join support groups for anxiety and/or social anxiety
- Socialize, go out, and stay active
- Develop organizational and time management systems
How common are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety Disorders are the most common health condition in the United States. It is estimated that 40 million Americans experience an anxiety disorder.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best way to treat severe anxiety?
Mental health can affect people in various ways that can cause them to experience great distress in their everyday lives for weeks or months. People with anxiety often feel like they have the weight of the world rested on their shoulders which inhibits their ability to function normally. If you are experiencing severe physical symptoms and mental/emotional distress as a result of your anxiety, here are some extreme anxiety treatment plan options and tips that may be helpful:
- psychotherapy treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- exposure therapy to treat phobias such as fear of flying
- breathing techniques
- daily exercise
- reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol
How do you deal with crippling anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems around the globe. Currently, 40 million Americans over the age of 18 experience crippling anxiety, or about 18.1% of the entire population within the United States. The six types of anxiety related disorders can include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
- Social anxiety
- Separation anxiety
While 40 million Americans navigate this mental health disorder, people with anxiety may experience different symptoms, and differences in the severity of their symptoms depending on which related disorders they deal with. Therefore, some people with crippling anxiety have their symptoms greatly affect one’s ability to function normally in their day to day lives for weeks or months. While in most cases a health professional can help you in dealing with anxiety through breathing techniques, and therapy, other people with anxiety may not be able to manage their symptoms accordingly. Common signs of crippling anxiety can include:
- Extreme insomnia
- Intensive irritability
- Drastic weight loss or weight gain
- Experience of frequent panic attack
- Substance abuse such as with drugs or alcohol
- Extreme social withdrawal
- Aggressive and angry behaviors or outbursts
- Health problems such as chronic headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems and digestive issues
- Problems keeping healthy interpersonal relationships with other people or avoiding social situations
Treatment of crippling anxiety
If you are navigating crippling anxiety, here are some extreme anxiety treatment options and tips you may find helpful to reduce the side effects of your mental health disorder and help with treating anxiety:
- Find a therapist
- Psychological therapies
- Relaxation techniques such as breathing techniques, mediation, mindfulness, body relaxation
- Other forms of therapy such as exposure therapy to help with people who may experience panic attacks or phobias such as fear of flying
- Art therapy
If you also are navigating related disorders, then your medical provider will take those into consideration when creating your personalized treatment plan.
How do I help someone with severe anxiety?
People with anxiety or any other type of mental health problem can deal with a great deal of distress during the day and affect their ability to function. However, being close with someone who is experiencing a mental health disorder such as anxiety and depression can also cause strain in the relationship. Therefore, it is important to provide as much support as you can so they are able to overcome their distress and everyday difficulties. According to theAnxiety and Depression Association of America, ways you can assist someone with severe anxiety are:
- Education yourself on health information that is related to their mental health disorder and other related disorders
- Encourage them to seek health care treatment such as anxiety therapy
- Help them with breathing techniques if they are experiencing a panic attack
- Help them set goals for the day that will assist them in their ability to function
- Show them encouragement and support
- Provide them with validation
What is the most effective treatment for anxiety?
Those with mental health disorders such as anxiety can experience differences in the symptoms and the severity to which these symptoms manifest in their everyday life which can greatly affect their ability to function normally. They also might be impacted by the interaction between their anxiety symptoms and other related disorders. Therefore, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis, it is important to search for help and get the right type of health care that will help you manage your symptoms. According to research and health care providers, the best and most effective treatments for anxiety are:
- Psychotherapy which is also known as talk therapy. A highly effective form of therapy that is used by health care providers is cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on learning to educate yourself on managing your stress and worries through skills that will help you return to your normal day to day functions. These tips may include breathing techniques.
- Previous ArticleFrom The Comfort Of Your Home: Effective Anxiety Help Online
- Next Article25 Strategies In Anxiety Management