[vc_column width=”1/1″]Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive worry and irrational fear about everyday situations. These feelings interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control and can last a long time. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.
Examples of anxiety disorders include social anxiety disorder (social phobia), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder.
Treatment may include a type of psychotherapy that teaches you to view and respond to challenging situations in a more effective way (cognitive behavioral therapy), lifestyle changes and, if needed, medications. Sometimes, anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.
Whatever form of anxiety you have, treatment can help.
• Feeling apprehensive
• Feeling powerless
• Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
• Having an increased heart rate
• Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
• Feeling weak or tired
Several types of anxiety disorders exist:
• Panic disorder involves panic attacks — repeated episodes of sudden, unexplained feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror. You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pain.
• Agoraphobia is anxiety about, or avoidance of, places or situations where you might feel trapped or helpless if you start to feel panicky.
• Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
• Social anxiety disorders (social phobias) involve irrational anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being viewed negatively by others.
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) includes persistent, recurring thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions) or an irresistible desire to perform irrational or seemingly purposeless acts or rituals (compulsions). Often it involves both obsessive and compulsive behavior.
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) includes the feeling that you’re re-experiencing an extremely traumatic event. It causes intense emotions and physical reactions along with a desire to avoid anything that might remind you of the event.
• Acute stress disorder includes symptoms similar to those of PTSD that occur immediately after an extremely traumatic event.
• Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about small or large concerns. This type of anxiety disorder often begins at an early age. It frequently occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
• Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes prominent symptoms of anxiety that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
• Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety that are a direct result of abusing drugs, taking medications or being exposed to a toxic substance.
• Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
• Anxiety disorder not otherwise specified is a term for prominent anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any of the other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
• You feel like you’re worrying too much and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
• You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
• You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
• You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors (seek emergency treatment immediately)
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time if you don’t seek help. See your doctor or a mental health provider before your anxiety gets worse. It may be easier to treat if you address it early.