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The Anxiety Disorders Page

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders vary in frequency and severity. They arise usually out of a mixture of genetics, lifetime experiences, upbringing, and often, traumatic events. In general, excessive worry, fear, and panic occur which may significantly affect the personal life and relationships of the affected. Many anxiety symptoms are accompanied by physical symptoms like hyperventilation, sweating, dizziness, blurred vision, and rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations, which lead the affected to believe they are suffering from a life threatening illness. Anxiety disorders tend to exist in conjunction with other mental illnesses, most commonly depression and alcohol and/or drug abuse.

What are some types of anxiety disorders?

Over 18% of the American population suffers from some form of anxiety based disorder. Anxiety is rated the number one most common form of mental illness in the United States. Anxiety is diverse in its manifestations, and therefore can be categorized by specific causes and symptoms. Gender also plays a role in likelihood of dealing with or suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Panic Disorder is usually marked by specific intense attacks. External factors can relate with the attack directly or the attack itself may appear to “come out of nowhere.” Panic Disorder is three times more likely to occur with women. Panic attacks tend to mimic actual physical conditions, causing the sufferer to frequent emergency rooms in hospitals and clinics. The affected may feel like a hypochondriac when the symptoms do not equate a life threatening illness and feel too embarrassed to seek further treatment for their symptoms.

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is characterized by an unusual cyclic thought process revolving around a fear such as germs, contamination or an unexplainable need for symmetry and order. The sufferer sometimes will have an intense fear or worry about hurting those around them, resulting in an obsessive tendency to over analyze interactions- both physical and emotional – with those around them. These obsessions often cause them to give into a series of rituals, or compulsions, which may include cleaning, washing hands, counting things, or touching things repetitively. The affected may also feel that if they do not conduct these rituals awful things will happen to themselves or their loved ones.

Post-traumatic-stress disorder, or PTSD, occurs when a person is witness to or part of a traumatic experience such as a rape or murder. The sufferer feels terror for months, even years after the event. The affected also tend to “flash back” and/or relive the traumatic event through nightmares. When a person goes through a traumatic event it often causes a feeling of isolation, like they no longer can relate with other people. In many cases this sense of isolation leads to depression and even alcohol abuse.

Social phobia/social anxiety disorder refers to when a person manifests an unusually high amount of fear or panic associated with being around and/or interacting with people at a social event or in public. The affected may feel overly sensitive and believe that people are looking at, analyzing, and judging them. An intense fear of social activities and events may occur days, even months, before the actual event takes place. In many cases this disorder interferes with school, work, making and keeping friends, and other intimate relationships

Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, is characterized by intense worry and fear over all day everyday things. Even when there is a situation which warrants concern, the affected will usually blow the situation out of proportion to the point of irrationality. Like many other anxiety disorders, GAD can affect ones everyday life and/or personal relationships. Statistics maintain that twice as many women suffer from GAD as men.

How is research improving the understanding and treatment of these disorders?

As the research grows on anxiety disorders, so does the understanding and treatment of said disorders. Genetic research has explained why certain people when (clinically) induced with fear do not display the same physiological or psychological responses as others. Understanding the role of genetics in anxiety based responses can affect the treatment plan used to help the sufferer. Examining the impact things such as upbringing, life experiences, and traumatic experiences have had on a person can help us to decode and understand how to conduct ourselves and even how to raise our children.

What types of treatment are available?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a process that focuses in identifying unwanted behaviors and thoughts and discovering alternative thoughts and practices for the affected. This proves to be a very powerful treatment for virtually all of the anxiety disorders including those which are in conjunction with alcohol and other drug abuse.

Exposure Therapy is used primarily for specific phobias which induce a panic attack response. This therapy gradually exposes the affected with the object or action that induces their fear. Ultimately the goal is to use familiarity to eliminate fear.

Medication is sometimes used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. A drug treatment program may be prescribed in conjunction with one or more of the behavioral therapies.

Individual Therapy is basically talking through problems with trained professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, to identify and develop a plan to treat and reduce the effects of the patient’s anxiety disorder.

Group Therapy is an excellent option for those individuals who prefer to confront their issues with others who are experiencing the same difficulties in life. These people may benefit from group therapy. Patients can learn more and gain wisdom from those who may have gone through the same experience and conquered it. Anxiety disorders tend to isolate sufferers and group therapy can reverse this feeling of alienation by creating a support network so the individual does not feel alone.

Exercise is usually linked with lower stress levels, which in many cases can lower the occurrence of anxiety attacks. An hour a day of aerobic exercise is suggested to alleviate some anxiety symptoms.

Relaxation is a learned technique for many individuals who suffer from an anxiety disorder. Deep breathing, positive visualization, and muscle relaxation can all help to alleviate symptoms.

Hypnosis induces a relaxed state.In some cases it helps chronic worriers to let go and examine their situation from a different angle.

Inpatient/ outpatient therapy is an option that usually depends on the severity and need of the sufferer. The inflicted may choose to check themselves into a mental health facility, especially if the anxiety disorder is in conjunction with a substance abuse problem. They may seek impatient care at a drug treatment center with the goal of achieving alcohol and/or drug rehabilitation.

How does someone get help?

Psychiatrist/psychologists may be researched or looked up directly. Some people may prefer to be referred by a general practitioner.

Clinics may cover a wide range of mental illness treatments. Those who seek mental health treatment in conjunction with their drug abuse issues may locate a treatment center for an individualized program. Alcohol rehab has proven to be a useful resource in overcoming an addiction accompanied with anxiety.

Help Groups can be located by researching local resources via your counties government website. Also, many general health care providers can help you find the help group that is right for you.

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