Mental health professional with a patient

Understanding and defining anxiety

Today, it seems like there’s always something to worry about. You may be concerned about your family, nervous about your future, uneasy about your finances, anxious about your health, or all worked up about work. While feeling anxious from time to time is completely normal, what isn’t is when your worrying gets worse over time and takes total control of your life. At that point, you may be one of the many people that face anxiety disorders. The following guide will help you understand anxiety and common anxiety disorders, along with anxiety symptoms and treatment options to help ease your nerves and your mind about facing and fighting anxiety.

Why anxiety disorders are cause for concern

Occasional anxiety is nothing to get upset about because the feeling fades in a matter of hours or days. However, if your anxiousness is excessive and doesn’t go away, you may be one of the 40 million adults in the United States alone facing anxiety disorders. These mental illnesses make it hard to get through the day and can have a major impact on your emotional and physical health.

Common anxiety disorders to keep in mind

Anxiety disorders come in many forms. There are several types of anxiety, meaning the disorder can look and feel different based on its cause. Each type of anxiety disorder has its own traits and triggers, yet they all interfere with your life. The most common anxiety disorders include:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – As the most widespread type of anxiety, this involves overwhelming and ongoing worry about anything and everything in life. As a result, it leaves you constantly worried and nervous about what today and tomorrow may bring. People struggling with GAD tend to experience excessive anxiety for weeks, months, and sometimes more.
  2. Panic disorder – If you frequently feel a sudden wave of intense panic or fear, you may be dealing with this disorder. A panic attack is commonly known as an anxiety attack, but no matter what you call it, it’s sudden and it’s scary. An anxiety attack can make you experience such severe terror that you start sweating and shaking and may feel like you’re having a heart attack.
  3. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) – This intense fear of being watched, judged, embarrassed, or rejected in social situations can make you avoid public places, parties, and people altogether. Social anxiety can interfere with everything, from your work and relationships to your confidence and daily life.
  4. Specific phobias – A phobia is an overwhelming fear of a certain object or situation that typically isn’t dangerous, such as heights or public speaking. This fear goes far beyond what’s realistic and reasonable, but it causes such severe anxiety that you go to great lengths to avoid it.
  5. Separation anxiety disorder – People with this disorder become extremely anxious or afraid if a person that they’re attached to isn’t nearby. While this anxiety is common in kids, it can affect anyone at any time in their life. It can make you extremely anxious when you’re separated from that person and cause you to worry that something bad will happen to them.

Anxiety symptoms to worry about

While anxiety disorders are considered mental illnesses and they certainly wreak havoc on your emotional and mental well-being, they aren’t all in your mind. These disorders can also trigger physical symptoms that affect how your body feels and functions. The most frequent mental and physical anxiety symptoms include:

  • An uncontrollable sense of worry
  • Nervousness
  • Feelings of impending danger
  • Pounding heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling edgy or jumpy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Tense muscles
  • Having headaches, stomachaches, and unexplainable pain
  • Being irritable
  • Problems sleeping
  • Having an anxiety attack

Rest easy, there are plenty of treatment options

Anxiety disorders can be difficult and debilitating, but they don’t have to prevent you from living a life you love. There are several ways to treat anxiety disorders that can help ease your symptoms and suffering. If you’ve been experiencing episodes of intense anxiety, speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor about getting these uncontrollable feelings under control. Some of the most effective treatments involve some combination of psychotherapy to improve your way of thinking, medication to ease your symptoms, relaxation techniques to help you cope, and support groups to share your success.

Everyone deals with anxiety, but if you deal with it every day, asking for help can take the anxiety out of your mind and your life.