Types of Anxiety Disorders
Having occasional bouts with anxiety is a normal part of life. Some people experience anxiety while driving in heavy traffic. Others may have anxiety about speaking before a large group. Handled correctly, anxiety can keep you alert and motivated.
However, persistent and excessive worry about everyday situations is cause for concern. Repeated episodes of intense fear and distress that paralyze how you respond to certain situations could be an anxiety disorder. If this is the case, you are not alone. More than 40 million Americans have some type of anxiety disorder that interferes with their daily activities. Although some feelings of anxiety seem difficult to control, there is a path for you to regain your enjoyment of activities and hobbies.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Several factors can contribute to your risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Genetics could be a link to developing a disorder if close relatives experience anxiety. Enduring a traumatic or stressful event such as violence, abuse, or a loved one’s death can be a trigger.
In some situations, an underlying health condition may cause anxiety. These medical problems include:
- Heart disease
- Drug or alcohol withdrawal
- Thyroid conditions
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Although anxiety disorders can manifest in different forms, all types of anxiety have the same thing in common: non-threatening situations that cause persistent, excessive worry or fear. A person can experience one or more emotional or physical symptoms.
Emotional symptoms include:
- Anticipating the worst outcomes from a particular situation
- Being irritable or restless
- Feeling jumpy or tense
- Being unable to shake feelings of dread or apprehension
Physical symptoms can manifest as:
- Frequent diarrhea or urination
- Racing or pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The inducing situation or object is what distinguishes the different types of anxiety disorders. However, all disorders can interfere with your daily life and impact how you perform at school, home, or work. Here are the most common anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Typically, generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, can consume your day with obsessive stress and worry. This type of disorder causes fears that seem out of proportion to a situation. Concentrating on or finishing daily tasks becomes nearly impossible as the worry can also cause tension, nausea, and headaches.
Social Anxiety Disorder
If you have social anxiety disorder, you are driven by levels of self-consciousness that cause irrational worries about being judged by others. You may try to avoid situations that make you feel humiliated. This intense fear of social interactions may keep you from engaging in conversations or offering ideas. Experiencing a panic attack is a common reaction if you are forced into or even anticipate social interaction.
Characterized as sudden feelings of terror and panic attacks, panic disorder can occur without any warning or external cause. The severity of physical symptoms arises from intense fear or worry even in the absence of an actual threat. If you have a panic disorder, you may experience symptoms often associated with a heart attack such as heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
The tendency to avoid some uncomfortable situations is not unusual. But the presence of a phobia makes certain events, places, or objects unbearable. Depending on the type of phobia, several things can trigger a strong, irrational fear. Avoiding such reactions means working hard to control the fear by avoiding triggers.
Diagnosis and Traditional Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Comprehensive, long-term care offers a healthy prognosis for anyone suffering from an anxiety disorder. For the most part, most people can learn ways to manage anxiety enough to restore normal functioning in their lives. Because physical symptoms of anxiety can mimic other medical conditions, a thorough physical examination, interview, and lab tests are necessary. These will rule out the presence of an underlying illness. The next possible step is a referral to a mental health professional.
During the evaluation, the mental health professional can identify the type of anxiety disorder that is causing symptoms. Determining whether any co-occurring conditions exist is equally important. Some related conditions that can worsen with anxiety may include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders
- Sleep problems (such as insomnia)
- Substance use disorder
Exploring the best treatment options for all mental health conditions is essential to reaching mental wellness. Your preferences for the right treatment approach are an important part of the discussion. Make sure to express your desires and concerns with your treatment team.
After a clinical diagnosis, psychotherapy becomes the most important component of a comprehensive treatment plan. Medication is also known to be an effective measure for most people experiencing an anxiety disorder. The most commonly used treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is used to teach clients how to become aware of negative reactions and feelings in certain situations.
Additionally, clients learn how to manage the triggers that manifest anxiety to levels that disrupt their lives. Therapy provides the tools necessary to change unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. Working with a therapist outside of traditional face-to-face therapy settings has also proven beneficial. Telehealth technology such as online learning modules, phone calls, and video sessions can be just as effective.
Another form of psychotherapy is exposure response prevention. This treatment for specific anxiety disorders aims to help clients develop constructive responses to their fears. The approach during exposure therapy prevention sessions is to expose fears. Over time, clients may begin experiencing less anxiety as they develop effective coping methods.
Certain prescription medications can also help you manage an anxiety disorder. It is important to speak with your mental health provider about the benefits, risks, and potential side effects of medications. The more information you have, the easier it will be to make an informed decision about your mental wellness.
Typically, anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines can help to reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety disorder. When they are used as short-term remedies with careful medication management, they can help you avoid the risk of dependence.
Antidepressants may also be helpful for treating anxiety disorders. These medications are often prescribed for co-occurring depression.
Alternative Approaches to Treatment
Alternative, holistic treatments are becoming more common alongside conventional anxiety disorder treatments.
Often combined with panic disorder or phobia treatments, stress and relaxation techniques teach you to practice breathing exercises and focus your attention. These techniques can help to calm the body and mind. Self-management strategies help you become knowledgeable about the triggers associated with your anxiety. This technique even allows a specific time for worrying as you gain more control over your daily routines.
Yoga can help you improve how you manage your anxiety disorder through a combination of breathing exercises, meditation, and physical postures. Furthermore, aerobic exercise can create a positive effect on a person’s stress and anxiety.
Ways to Help
Whether an anxiety disorder affects you or a loved one, it can impact even the smallest details of your life. Getting help is very important to learn how to work through triggering events during difficult moments. There are a number of ways to help yourself or a loved one move forward and live a productive life. Become an expert by learning about the variety of treatment and medication options.
- Self-awareness: Recognize stressors and triggers like being in large groups or making a presentation at a big meeting. Practice whatever helps to reduce your anxiety whether it is going for a walk or finding a quiet area to pause away from the crowd. Mindfulness can help you live a life with few limitations.
- Make goals: Actively participate in developing a treatment plan that works for your lifestyle. Discuss your goals for treatment and the pace at which you feel most comfortable. Feel free to talk about changing an approach that does not go as well as planned.
- Physical health: Aim for at least 30 minutes a day of vigorous, aerobic exercise. Regular exercise can help to reduce a lot of anxiety symptoms. Include changes to your diet with healthy, balanced meals. Even sensitivities to certain additives or foods can lead to unpleasant physical reactions of irritability or anxiety.
- Network: Find supportive online communities and education programs where you can freely share your thoughts and fears and ask questions about living with a mental illness.
- Altruism: Helping a close relative or friend can start with understanding their stressors, symptoms, and triggers. The more you become aware of their condition, the more you can help them avoid getting worse.
Helping a Loved One
Also, play a role in their treatment. Couple- or family-based mental health treatment programs may be part of their overall wellness plan. You might be able to help reinforce behavior modification techniques. Playing an active role can help your loved one feel supported, which can decrease the frequency and severity of their anxiety.
Use honest and kind communication as you make offers to help. Follow through by letting your loved one know that you care about their well-being. Avoid judging your loved ones when they have anxious thoughts.
Understanding and patience go a long way in giving your loved one time for recovery. Do this in a caring way while pushing for progress. If your loved one faces a crisis, remember to react rationally and calmly. Let them know that you understand and will help them get help.
Anxiety disorders can leave you feeling that everyday routines are stressful challenges. Although your behavior may seem irrational to others, our team at Granite Recovery Centers understands how hard it is to live with any type of anxiety.
We offer comprehensive mental health treatment aimed at addressing our clients’ needs. Our focus is on healing the mind, body, and spirit with guidance from our mental health professionals for lifelong recovery.
We have picturesque facilities where you can begin managing anxiety in healthy ways. Contact us today to begin the journey toward expanding your world again.