Identifying Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is described as an emotional condition characterized by feelings of tension, worry, or unease. These emotions may be coupled with physical symptoms such as high blood pressure. Anxiety is a very normal and even helpful response in certain circumstances. Sometimes anxiety can keep us safe from danger or be a motivating force for self-improvement. However, when anxiety begins to interfere with daily life, it is time to consider professional help.
Different Types of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders were only recently recognized (in 1980) by the American Psychiatric Association. As mentioned, anxiety is a normal wired response to strong stimuli. Passing anxieties are totally normal and should just be considered your reaction to a strong experience. Sometimes those experiences (an accident, a threatening encounter with a stranger, loss of a job, etc.) can cause a moment of anxiety, even trigger some of the physical symptoms of increased heart rate, nausea, sweating, etc. When anxiety turns to constant fear and emotional stress over a potential similar encounter, it is time to get some help. Anxiety becomes a diagnosable condition when it starts to create a pattern of interference regarding normal life activities like self-care, relationships, and work or study. Left unchecked, anxiety can lead to trouble sleeping, broken relationships, missed work, and more.
The types of anxiety disorders that have been identified include:
A sudden, intense fear that initiates a panic attack (sweating, chest pain, palpitations, etc.)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
A cycle of obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges) and compulsions (behaviors engaged in to mitigate the obsessions and decrease the distress)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A mental health condition that occurs after a terrifying event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety and thoughts about the event.
Social anxiety disorder
Also called social phobia, this is an overwhelming self-consciousness and worry about normal, everyday social situation.
Phobias such as agoraphobia
Intense fear of a specific object or situation. The fear goes well beyond what is appropriate for the situation and causes avoidance.
Feeling especially anxious or fearful when a person you are close to leaves your sight.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Scientific understanding of anxiety has increased markedly in the last two decades. Brain imaging tools, genetic profiling, and multi-generational studies have helped considerably. Here are some of the causes and risk factors that play a role in anxiety.
• Genetics – anxiety disorders can run in families.
• Environmental stress – stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events are very often linked to anxiety disorders. They include childhood abuse and neglect, death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence, a horrific accident, war.
• Brain chemistry – some research suggests anxiety disorders are linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotion.
• Drug misuse – anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
• Medical conditions – some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms like anxiety or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. It is certainly a good plant to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when embarking on anxiety therapy.
• Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders:
• History of mental health disorders. Having another mental health disorder, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.
• Trauma. Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a type of anxiety disorder.
• Childhood sexual abuse. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.
• Negative life events. Stressful events, like losing a parent, a sibling, or a spouse and increase your risk for anxiety disorder.
• Severe illness or chronic health condition. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
• Substance abuse. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs increases your likelihood of getting an anxiety disorder. Often, use of these substances helps the anxious person hide or ease symptoms.
• Shyness or low self-esteem. Shyness and low self-esteem can lead to withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places and social anxiety disorder.
Treating Anxiety Disorders
If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder, seek out an online anxiety therapist. A licensed professional will help understand the type and severity of your anxiety disorder and detail the most effective type of treatment for your specific anxiety disorder as well as develop some treatment goals.
CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a behavioral therapy that has helped many people to improve their mental health. CBT focuses on uncovering your challenges and changing any unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors. CBT improves your emotional regulation while offering you a set of personal coping strategies that help you solve current problems. These coping strategies, once learned, can help you address and deal with future stressful situations, keeping your anxiety level under control.
Online Anxiety Therapy is a web-based approach to connecting with licensed professional counselors via the internet. These services are more affordable, private, and certainly more convenient than traditional therapies.
If you would like to get started with online anxiety therapy, we are here to help. We accept most insurance copays. Join for free and book your first appointment online…easy & convenient!
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