Anxiety is a natural part of life. It’s a way for your subconscious to help control reckless behavior and high-risk exposure. When anxiety lasts for a long time, is excessive and interferes with your normal routine, it’s no longer a natural, healthy component of life. Rather, it’s considered a mental health disorder.
An estimated 19.1% of the U.S. adult population has an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you’re experiencing severe or frequent anxiety that feels out of control and is impacting your daily life, you need to know why, and what you can do about it.
What Is Anxiety Disorder?
There are numerous types of anxiety disorders. They create instances of high anxiousness, a feeling of being unsure of a situation or a fear of what’s happening. These disorders can make it hard for you to manage day-to-day activities at home, work and school. In some situations, they can be very debilitating. View anxiety disorders as any other type of mental or physical disability. They can be serious medical conditions that warrant immediate help.
What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Numerous specialized types of anxiety orders exist. Each one causes that same feeling, but often about specific things or events. Take a closer look at a few of the most common types of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorder Due to Medical Conditions: A very common form of anxiety disorder focuses on medical conditions. You may feel panic or extreme anxiety when you think about a physical health problem, both yours and those of people close to you.
Agoraphobia: People with this form of anxiety disorder fear being around other people. You may feel trapped or in a state of panic when you go to certain places or are in various situations. You may also fear being embarrassed or helpless in those areas.
Panic Disorder: In this form of anxiety disorder, a person feels a sudden, intense amount of anxiety and fear. It generally gets worse for a few minutes and then begins to subside. During these times, you may suffer shortness of breath, a racing heart, chest pain and a feeling of impending doom. Once you have a panic attack, you may experience anxiety about having another attack. This may lead to situations where you avoid the area or people surrounding you during a previous panic attack.
Social Anxiety Disorder: Sometimes called social phobia, in this form, you may experience fear and anxiety in social situations. This generally stems from being self-conscious or being worried about embarrassment. You don’t want to be viewed negatively or judged by others, so you withdraw from social interactions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Sometimes, people suffer from anxiety that’s constant and tends to be excessive, revolving around activities or events. You may spend a lot of time worrying about routine tasks or even ordinary things you do each day if you have generalized anxiety disorder. The key here is that the worry is unfounded and the feared outcome unlikely to happen.
Selective Mutism: For children, selective mutism is a form of anxiety disorder. A previous experience or traumatic event may cause this to occur. The child simply doesn’t speak in certain situations. For example, a teacher may have yelled at the students not to talk. Fearful of the repercussions, the child stops talking during class.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: This disorder occurs when a separation from a certain person causes extreme amounts of anxiety. Though more common in children, separation anxiety disorder can happen to adults as well. Often, it centers around a child being unable to be around a parent whom they’ve spent time with previously.
Substance-Induced Anxiety: The misuse of drugs and alcohol can create anxiety in some people. The fear of using it, of their use being exposed or even a fear of withdrawing from the drugs can cause intense instances of anxiety.
Phobias: Many people have intense anxiety about specific things or events. For example, some may be afraid of objects, specific people, specific experiences or locations. When exposed to them, they can have a panic attack.
What Can Having an Anxiety Disorder Do to Your Life?
As noted, anxiety is supposed to be a good thing. It’s that feeling you get when something isn’t right that helps you get out of the situation or not do something you shouldn’t. When it’s uncontrolled, though, that fear can strike at any time, leaving you unable to do what you want and need to do. This impacts your life in various ways. Living with anxiety can cause:
- Depression and other mental health disorders
- Difficulty sleeping
- Substance misuse
- Social isolation
- Chronic pain
- Digestive and bowel complications
It can also increase the risk of having suicidal thoughts or actions. In some people, it contributes to job loss or doing poorly at school because of the lack of focus. Many others struggle with an overall poor quality of life because of their constant state of fear, anxiety, and worry.
How Is Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?
Is anxiety a mental illness? The truth is, anxiety disorders are a very common and very worrisome type of mental illness that you shouldn’t ignore. To diagnose it, therapists discuss your symptoms with you one-on-one. A full psychological evaluation is conducted. It looks at not only your feelings and thought patterns, but also your behaviors related to them. Your therapist talks to you about other mental health problems you may have, including substance misuse.
Then, doctors compare your symptoms and experiences with the criteria for having this disorder, set by the American Psychiatric Association. Once there’s a formal diagnosis, the right treatment plan can be discussed with you.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Why is this happening to you? It’s a question many people with anxiety disorders have to face. Sometimes, you may be unable to know why you have these feelings and thoughts.
Are Anxiety Disorders Genetic?
There is some evidence that people with a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to suffer from them. However, genetics isn’t the only cause for most people.
Contributing Factors to Developing an Anxiety Disorder
For many people, it’s a combination of experiences that lead to an anxiety disorder.
Medical causes are very common. For example, a person may have an underlying health problem that makes them scared. That causes them to question tests and to look too deep into information, expecting to find a problem. This type of anxiety is quite common in people diagnosed with heart disease, thyroid problems or diabetes, for example.
Many times, life experiences cause anxiety to develop. You may fear a situation or specific outcome because you’ve experienced it before or you’ve seen someone else go through it. Trauma is very commonly linked to anxiety. You may not even realize your anxiety is linked to a trauma.
Intensely stressful situations, the buildup of moderate stress over time and the routine use of drugs and alcohol increase the risks of developing an anxiety disorder. Some people also have a personality that makes them more prone to feeling anxious than others.
Co-occurring disorders can be brought on by and also be the cause of anxiety disorders. For example, a person with bipolar disorder may recognize what their manic episodes look like to other people and, consequently, develops anxiety or panic attacks over having such an episode. Any other type of mental health disorder makes you more prone to anxiety. Depression is one of the most common.
Can Anxiety Be Treated? FHE Health Can Offer Guidance
If you are experiencing anxiety that’s taking over your life, work with the compassionate counselors at FHE Health. Let our team guide you in getting the care you need. Call us 24/7 at 844-299-0618.