What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. It's a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety. Anxiety becomes an issue when it is excessive, intense, immobilizes and affects your daily functioning. Anxiety can be a response to everyday engagements or to specific triggers. You may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes.
Some Facts About Anxiety Disorders
- Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults.
- An estimated 44 million (18.1%) American adults (18 and older) suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Only 36.9% of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment even though the disorders are highly treatable.
- Anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. ( Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
Anxiety Awareness Test
- If you are experiencing extreme worry and tension about money, health, job, your future wellbeing and other aspects of your life, then you may be having anxiety.
- If you are finding it difficult to relax, fall or stay asleep because of constant thoughts about these areas of your life, you may be experiencing anxiety.
- If you have physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, irritability, sweating, hot flashes, feeling light headed, out of breath, easily fatigued, then you may be having anxiety.
- If you are experiencing heart palpitations, nausea, cramping of stomach, lump in your throat, difficulty concentrating, mind going blank and are easily startled then it’s time to check for anxiety.
- If you expect the worst and live in the future as if it was a reality you may be showing signs of anxiety.
- If you have kids who manifest some of these symptoms and have experienced separation of parents or worry about separation from parents your child may be having a type of anxiety.
- If you have kids who are overly preoccupied with the quality of their performance at school or at sports and they exhibit any of the above bodily symptoms, it’s time to seek help for what you observe.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders cover a wide range including the commonly known general anxiety about various aspects of life and anxiety due to a traumatic event. The list below reflects the range of disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – most common (affects 3.1% of the US population) of all the anxiety disorders and reflected in excessive persistent worry and fear mostly about health, money family or work. It disrupts social activities and interferes with work, school or family.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – anxiety due to a traumatic event such as terrorist attacks, war, natural disaster, sudden death of a loved one. Persons suffering from this disorder may have problems with their family relationships due to trust issues and in turn it is difficult for family to cope with the situation. 7.7 million Americans age 18 and older have PTSD.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder – many young children suffer from this type and involves the anxiety and fear around being separated from parents or that they will lose their parents.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – fear of being in social contexts, of being criticized or evaluated negatively or being rejected. These persons experience intense anxiety or fear of being in a social or performance situation. People with Social Anxiety Disorder may feel powerless to stop their anxiety
- Panic Disorder - Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are very preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, Panic disorder usually begins in adulthood (after age 20), but children can also have panic disorder and many children experience panic-like symptoms.
- Specific Phobias – manifest in an excessive fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. These phobias commonly focus on animals, heights, germs, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures and elevators. People with phobias may realize that their fear is irrational but even thinking about it can often cause extreme anxiety.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Many potential risk factors exist for anxiety disorders, and most people likely experience many different combinations of risk factors, such as brain factor, genetic, environmental factors, and life experiences. However, it is not yet fully understood what causes some people to have anxiety disorders. One way to assess genetic risk is by the history of anxiety disorders in ones family. It is likely that a genetic vulnerability to anxiety exists in a family if several people have anxiety disorders in that family.
Many people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. A common example of such co-occurrence is a person who along with an anxiety disorder has a substance use disorder or eating disorder. It’s necessary for both disorders to be treated. Many persons with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression.
What Do I Do Now That I Know
Everyone has a certain level of anxiety as the body is designed to make you aware of stressful situations, any threat of danger and threat to your wellbeing. This awareness gives you the advantage of acting to defend or avoid danger. This baseline anxiety can become excessive and rather than being a positive tool in your life it now becomes a destructive means. You are not alone in your struggle with anxiety. You do not have to accept your condition as a lifetime sentence. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and the vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can get help through professional care. Many have found relief and have learned to manage their anxiety through psychotherapy and medication.
Your reservations or increase anxiety about treatment is normal and will be considered at the beginning of any treatment option. You will be informed about the types of treatment available and treatment will be tailored to your needs. If you have had treatment for anxiety previously and feel that this was not effective, possible reasons for this can be discussed as you pursue further help.
Seeking Shalom is ready to walk with you on your journey in pursuit of experiencing reduced anxiety and efficient functioning. Seeking Shalom has trained and experienced therapists who will provide weekly psychotherapy treatment and referral for medication management if indicated. You will gain understanding of your anxiety and acquire management tools and techniques to better handle your anxiety.
Your request for help can be made via telephone at 212-655-9605.