Anxiety Disorders 2017-08-22T16:39:38+00:00

Everyone experiences anxiety at some time.  When people describe anxiety they use terms such as stressed, on edge, worried, nervous and tense.

Anxiety can vary in severity from mild to terrifying.  An anxiety disorder differs from normal anxiety in the following ways:

  • It is more severe
  • It is long lasting
  • It interferes with the person’s daily routine, activities and family and social relationships.

Anxiety disorders affect one in eight youth.  The following are anxiety disorders:

Some people experience long term anxiety across a whole range of situations and this anxiety is referred to as generalized anxiety disorder.  Young people who have this disorder may have overwhelming, unfounded worry and multiple physical as well as psychological symptoms occurring more days than not, for at least six months.  Young people with generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively about health, appearance, schoolwork, sports and other activities, even when there are no signs of trouble.

Symptoms

  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Going to the bathroom frequently
  • Feeling like you cannot get enough air
  • Anticipating the worse outcome for any situation

*Mental disorders should only be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.  Symptoms are listed for information only and not for diagnostic purposes.  Diagnoses is complicated and can have many variables.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to diagnose yourself or someone else based on symptoms you see listed herein in yourself or someone else.  If you are concerned and recognize some of the listed symptoms, seek help from a trained professional.

Social Anxiety disorder is a fear of any situation which involves public scrutiny.  The fear is usually associated with the thought that one will behave in such a way as to cause embarrassment or humiliation resulting in others to thinking poorly of the person.  Common fears include speaking or eating in front of others, dating, and social events.

Symptoms

  • Significant excessive & persistent anxiety when in a social setting
  • Person will go to great lengths to avoid anxiety provoking social situations
  • Intense fear
  • Physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, and trembling
  • Experiencing symptoms for six months or more

*Mental disorders should only be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.  Symptoms are listed for information only and not for diagnostic purposes.  Diagnoses is complicated and can have many variables.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to diagnose yourself or someone else based on symptoms you see listed herein in yourself or someone else.  If you are concerned and recognize some of the listed symptoms, seek help from a trained professional.

A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense anxiety, fear and/or terror accompanied by uncomfortable physical sensations such as chest pain, shortness of breath and shaking.  One in four people have a panic attack at some time in their life. Although anyone can have a panic attack, people with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience a panic attack.  If a person experiences a panic attack, it does not always mean that they have panic disorder.  In fact, as many as 10 percent of the population of otherwise healthy people, will experience a panic attack at some point in his or her life.    A person with panic disorder experiences recurring panic attacks for at least one month and is persistently worried about the possibility of future panic attacks.  Frequent, panic attacks could indicate that an individual may have panic disorder.

Some panic attacks do not appear to have any specific trigger.  Other panic attacks may be brought on by fear producing thoughts or events – for example a person with social anxiety may experience a panic attack in a social setting – or a person who has a phobia of small spaces may experience a panic attack if they are in an elevator.

Symptoms

  • Palpitations, pounding heart or rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or butterflies in the stomach
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Feeling like you want to jump out of your own skin
  • *Mental disorders should only be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.  Symptoms are listed for information only and not for diagnostic purposes.  Diagnoses is complicated and can have many variables.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to diagnose yourself or someone else based on symptoms you see listed here in yourself or someone else.  If you are concerned seek help from a trained professional.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by both obsessions and compulsions.  Obsessions are intrusive recurrent thoughts or images that cause a great deal of anxiety.  Some common obsessive thoughts are a fear of germs, a need for symmetry or having things in a certain order, lucky or unlucky numbers and sexual and aggressive impulses.  Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are done to relieve the anxiety that is brought on by the obsession.

Some common compulsions include excessive washing, checking, repeating, ordering, counting or hoarding.

Symptoms

  • Someone with OCD will experience obsessions and/or compulsions that are severe enough to cause significant distress.
  • Obsessions and/or compulsions are present more than one hour per day
  • The obsessions or compulsions significantly interfere with daily activities such as school performance, work, or social life.

*Mental disorders should only be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.  Symptoms are listed for information only and not for diagnostic purposes.  Diagnoses is complicated and can have many variables.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to diagnose yourself or someone else based on symptoms you see listed herein in yourself or someone else.  If you are concerned and recognize some of the listed symptoms, seek help from a trained professional.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after a person experiences what they perceive to be a traumatic event.  What is perceived as traumatic can vary from person to person.  Common examples of what many people find to be a traumatic event include war, accidents, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, robbery and family violence.   Witnessing something extremely traumatic (mass shooting, terrorist attack, etc.), can also cause PTSD in some people.  It is common for people to feel greatly distressed immediately following a traumatic event, however, the distress usually lessons within a month.  If the distress lasts longer than a month, the individual may have PTSD.

Symptoms

  • Re-experiencing the trauma in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories
  • The person may avoid situations that bring back the memory of the original trauma
  • Reduced interest in the outside world or others
  • Irritability and outbursts of rage
  • Insomnia
  • Jumpiness

*Mental disorders should only be diagnosed by a trained medical professional.  Symptoms are listed for information only and not for diagnostic purposes.  Diagnoses is complicated and can have many variables.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to diagnose yourself or someone else based on symptoms you see listed herein in yourself or someone else.  If you are concerned and recognize some of the listed symptoms, seek help from a trained professional.

The mental health conversation is very important to me. I have friends that struggle with various mental illnesses. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. I’m very interested in how we deal with that.

– Matthew Quick

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

This information is provided for information purposes only and should not be substituted for professional medical advice.  As with any medical illness, you should always seek professional medical advice on how to treat and manage your illness. 

Anxiety Disorders can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  CBT is currently thought to be the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders.  It is based on the idea that how people think (cognition) influences how they behave.  Individuals learn how to recognize unhelpful thoughts and actions and how to use helpful coping strategies.  Behavioral Therapy (also known as exposure therapy is often a part of CBT.  It involves gradually exposing the person to the things that make them anxious.  This helps individuals to learn to reduce their fears without avoiding them and that their fears about the situation often do not come true or are not as bad as they thought.

For some people, medication may be necessary.  Antidepressant medications can be helpful in treating severe anxiety disorders. The decision to use medication to treat anxiety should be made in consultation with the individual, family and medical or mental health professional.