According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness affects millions each year, and that only about half of those receive any treatment. Anxiety is the most common mental health problem among adults in the United States affecting nearly 40 million people each year.
What is Anxiety?
While anxiety is a normal emotion, it can become problematic when it begins to interfere with activities of daily living. Normal anxiety is the brain’s way of informing you of danger and everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lifetime. You may have experienced symptoms of anxiety when going to a job interview or preparing for a test. However, when the anxiety becomes daily, excessive, and overwhelming it can cause a person to avoid situations that trigger their symptoms of anxiety which might include school, work, or social activities.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Nervousness & Worry
- Restlessness or shaking
- Increased Heart Rate
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling of impending doom
- Gastrointestinal issues (stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea)
- Sleep problems
Within the category of anxiety disorders, there are several different types of anxiety. Take a look at the 7 main types of anxiety diagnoses:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder—persistent worry, nervousness, and anxiety. The anxiety experienced is excessive given the circumstances and is typically experienced more days than not.
- Panic Disorder—repeated panic attacks often described as feeling like you’re going to die or have a heart attack. It may involve shortness of breath, chest pain or heaviness, increased heart rate, sweating, shaking and restlessness. A person often develops fear about having a panic attack in the future creating a pattern of avoidance.
- Social Anxiety Disorder—anxiety, fear and worry relating to social situations. Social situations are avoided due to fear of what other’s think about you, feelings of embarrassment and being self-conscious.
- Specific Phobias—experiencing severe anxiety (often resulting in a panic attack) when exposed to a certain trigger (i.e. snakes, spiders, flying, etc)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—a diagnosis given after the experience of a traumatic event which involves experiences of reliving the traumatic event and avoidance of triggers.
- Acute Stress Disorder—anxiety/fear that develops as a result of a traumatic event lasting 3 days to up to 1 month after the event.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—experiencing anxiety relating to the need to complete specific rituals (i.e. checking, counting, hand washing, cleaning etc), and/or experiencing obsessive thought patterns.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are among the most treatable mental health disorders. While medication is a helpful option for some, it is not the only treatment available. Cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, and other mind-body based therapies have been proven successful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety, you are not alone and there is HOPE! Don’t suffer in silence. Reaching out for help could change your life.