Anxiety is defined as intense, excessive, and persistent worry/fear about everyday situations. Anxiety can be short-term, or long-term. It can also be crippling.
Anxiety is sometimes hard to diagnose as an anxiety disorder because we all feel excessive worry and fear sometimes. Knowing what the characteristics of an anxiety disorder are, can help you know whether you could benefit from treatment.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Having sporadic anxiety is a normal part of life. But, people with an anxiety disorder show signs of persistent worry or fear about everyday things that occur. Typically, anxiety disorders involve chronic (or repeat) sudden attacks of intense worry. These attacks usually peak within a few minutes of onset.
With an anxiety disorder, these feelings of intense worry or excessive fear interfere with everyday life. They can be difficult to control and are always out of proportion to the actual danger. These disorders can be split up into 7 different types of anxiety disorders.
What are the 7 Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are complex and can take on many forms. Each one has specific characteristics, and symptoms. Generalized Anxiety, Phobias, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Separation Anxiety are the 7 categorized anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder is when someone feels anxious on most days, worrying about many different things. It is diagnosed after a period of 6 months or more.
Phobias, Specific Phobias, Agoraphobia: Phobia means “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”. Common phobias are needles, flying, and spiders.
Agoraphobia is a little different. Its definition is “extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, of leaving one’s own home, or of being in places from which escape is difficult.” Agoraphobia is the most life-altering of the “Phobia Anxiety Disorders”.
Panic Disorder: A person with Panic Disorder has panic attacks. These are attacks of extreme anxiety coupled with physical symptoms that are uncontrollable, and debilitating. When these attacks occur regularly over a month’s time, it is considered Panic Disorder.
Sometimes people experiencing a panic attack believe they are having a heart attack, or that they are about to die. Other times they experience shortness of breath, excessive sweating, and mild chest pains.
Social Anxiety Disorder: A person having an intense fear of being humiliated, embarrassed, or criticized, even in everyday situations. This could mean public speaking, making small talk, or just mingling at a party.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is when someone has unwanted, intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. In an effort to calm their anxieties, they may perform certain activities or rituals in a habitual way.
An example is: When someone has a fear of germs, they may wash their hands every time they touch something. This would be to ease their anxiety about the germs entering their immune system.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a disorder created by traumatic events such as war, assault, disaster, or family trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include difficulty relaxing, nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance of certain situations. It is diagnosed when symptoms last for more than a month.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: A person showing inappropriate (for their age, or developmental level) fear or anxiety from leaving a person. It is diagnosed after 4 recurring episodes. Episodes could include feelings of distress, extreme anxiety or worry about being separated from the person, or place they are attached to.
What are the Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders?
Because the causes of anxiety disorders are currently unknown, it is difficult to assess the risk factors. The risk factors most likely involve a combination of psychological, genetic, developmental, and environmental. Genes and environmental stresses have been thought to produce these specific mental health disorders.
Are Anxiety Disorders Always Hereditary?
Research suggests anxiety disorders can be genetic but don’t always have to be. It is thought to be a combination of genes, and environment. Observations have been made in younger patients that anxiety is mostly hereditary, but the genetic connection is not understood yet.
Researchers believe about 30% of anxiety disorder patients have developed the disorder through heredity. The other 70% developed anxiety disorders for many different reasons. Including daily life events, trauma experienced, environmental stressors, and/or a co-occurring mental illness. No matter the cause, there could be mental health treatment that is right for them.
Are Anxiety Disorders Treatable?
To find out if someone’s anxiety is treatable, the first step is to see a doctor. This is to make sure there are no physical causes for the anxiety symptoms. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the experts at Agape Treatment Center can help figure out the best course of action.
There are many modalities used to treat anxiety, including but not limited to therapies, medications, and mindfulness. At Agape Treatment Center, they take a holistic approach to creating a long-lasting plan for wellness.
How Does Someone Get Started with Treatment for an Anxiety Disorder?
Knowing when to seek professional help can be a difficult thing when it comes to Anxiety Disorders. Many people struggle every day without realizing how bad it really is. If someone is experiencing any of the symptoms below, they might benefit from treatment.
- Having panic attacks regularly
- Noticing they have fears of leaving home
- Are scared to go into a social setting
- Having nightmares of past events
- Anxious leaving a specific person or place
- Using repetitive actions as a coping mechanism to combat fears
Agape Treatment Center has many qualified admissions coordinators waiting for phone calls like these.