Anxiety disorders are the most common category of mental health disorders in the United States. Approximately 19 % of adults and 8 % of children and teenagers have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders have likely become more prevalent in recent months due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 41% of Americans say they are more anxious than they were last year according to a recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association.
Though anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only a small fraction of people receive treatment. Individuals may avoid treatment due to the stigma surrounding mental illness or simply because they do not realize how serious their symptoms have become.
To help recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety, Oceans addresses some of the most common questions about the disorder.
This content is designed to provide education about anxiety disorders and is not meant to diagnose or treat a disorder. If you or someone you know is experiencing overwhelming anxiety, contact a physician for help.
What is anxiety and what are the symptoms?
Feelings of anxiety are normal and common. Individuals often experience anxiety when attempting an activity they fear such as public speaking, flying or meeting an important deadline. However, persistent feelings of fear may signal a larger problem such as an anxiety disorder. If fear or distress become serious enough to prevent a person from participating in everyday activities, they may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
A person can experience both emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety:
Emotional symptoms can include:
- Apprehension, dread
- Nervousness, jumpiness
- Restlessness, irritability
- Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
Physical symptoms can include:
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety can be attributed to a combination of factors, including a person’s genetic makeup and their environment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. While evidence suggests that anxiety can be passed down through generations, a traumatic event can also lead to development of an anxiety disorder.
What treatment is available for anxiety?
Treatment of anxiety is unique to the individual and their diagnosed disorder, but common options include:
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Antianxiety medications and antidepressants
- Complementary health approaches, including stress and relaxation techniques
When is the right time to seek treatment?
It may be time to seek treatment if an individual:
- Withdraws from activities in which they used to regularly participate
- Withdraws from family and friends
- Avoids beneficial opportunities, such as applying for a new job or moving into a new home
- Experiences the physical effects of anxiety, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations and panic attacks
- Cannot stop worrying, even when focused on other subjects
- Has attempted to self-regulate feelings of anxiety to no avail
What treatment options are available?
If at any time a person is concerned their feelings of anxiety are negatively impacting their daily life, they should consult a doctor who can perform a physical evaluation, interview and lab tests to determine a diagnosis.
At Oceans Healthcare, we understand the challenges of living with anxiety and are committed to helping patients attain the best possible quality of life. As a nationally recognized provider of behavioral health services, we offer high-quality inpatient and outpatient treatment in a safe, compassionate environment. If you or someone you know you is struggling with anxiety, request a call from one of our specialists today.