Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide, and in the United States, anxiety itself is a normal bodily response to stress. It can assist in motivation, alertness and can help us protect ourselves from potentially harmful or dangerous situations. Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to hinder daily activities and functioning. People with anxiety disorders struggle with feeling a high state of panic or worry almost all the time, even when there is no real threat posed. The World Health Organization estimates that 40 million adults (18% of the population) in the United States are affected by a type of anxiety disorder. It is also important to know that anxiety is a manageable and treatable disease. Still, due to the negative stigma around seeking treatment, only 37% of those suffering from an anxiety-related illness seek care.
Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders commonly struggle with substance abuse and chemical dependency problems to cope with their symptoms. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that individuals with anxiety are twice as likely to suffer from alcohol and drug addiction than the rest of the population. Knowing that anxiety is often a co-occurring disorder alongside addiction, understanding the symptoms, risk factors, and treatments for anxiety can help you or a loved one escape the adverse and daunting effects of living with an anxiety disorder.
Individuals experience this type of anxiety disorder after experiencing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, domestic violence, childhood neglect and abuse, sexual assault, violent crime and military combat. Symptoms of PTSD are characterized by increased irritability and anger, flashbacks, nightmares, paranoia, and social withdrawal and isolation.
Characterized by an unreasonable or heightened fear of interacting with others and being in social situations. Fears of not escaping disaster when in a crowd, appearing in crowded places, participating in social activities, and public speaking. People with SAD also tend to feel an overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about others judging them or being publicly embarrassed or ridiculed.
Demonstrated by a debilitating fear of a particular object, citation, animal, or people. People struggling with specific phobias go out of their way to avoid their particular fear even when it negatively interferes with their ability to maintain and function successfully in everyday life. Some of the most common phobias include fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), fear of heights (aviophobia), and fear of people (agoraphobia).
Appears in those who have had traumatic experiences with abandonment or trauma. Symptoms include feeling intense fear and nervousness when a person you are close with leaves your sight and constantly worrying that something terrible will happen to the people you love.
The persistent misuse of substances, including drugs and alcohol, and other medications, can trigger an anxiety disorder.
With a combination of therapies, behavioral modification strategies, and in some cases, medication anxiety is a highly treatable condition. Below are some of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders.
Teaches individuals how to identify and change self-defeating thought patterns that bring about symptoms of anxiety. It also helps clients develop new coping skills and tools to maintain their long-term recovery goals even in stressful or triggering situations. CBT can be successful in both a group and individual setting.
Talk therapy can be an effective way to discuss and identify struggles and triggers associated with anxiety disorder. It can also be a safe place to discuss past trauma or events that may be a part of the cause of the persistent anxiety. Talk therapy can help individuals take an all-encompassing approach to combat their symptoms while addressing underlying concerns related to emotional pain, loss, grief, and substance abuse.
Medications can be a valuable tool alongside other modalities in overcoming the symptoms of anxiety. Medications in the SSRI (selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) category are often used to treat anxiety. The goal of using medications is to help individuals have more stability in their emotional and mental state, ultimately leading them to continue to lead healthier and more satisfying lifestyles. For more information on which types of medications can help you or a loved one with anxiety, contact a local treatment program or healthcare provider.
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