An anxiety disorder is a normal response to a situation that makes an individual feel threatened or uncomfortable.
But people with an anxiety disorder experience anxiety so intense and pervasive they cannot cope with day-to-day challenges. In some cases, they may be completely disabled by their anxiety disorder.
The most common of all mental illnesses, but also the most treatable, anxiety disorder takes many forms. General anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder are a few examples.
Anxiety disorders often co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, especially depression.
Medical Impact of Anxiety Disorders
An individual with an anxiety disorder often has other stress-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Physical symptoms may include shaking, sweating, a racing heart, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Headaches, hot flashes, hand trembling, fatigue and irritability can all result from anxiety disorder.
Signs of an Anxiety Disorder
A person who requires treatment for an anxiety disorder may appear overwhelmed by routine tasks and may even be completely disabled and unable to function.
Individuals with anxiety disorders are excessively fearful, worried and tense. They may have flashbacks about past trauma, and typically suffer from insomnia. Their anxiety disorder can result in ritualistic behavior. Signs of anxiety disorder in childhood, when it often begins, include a tendency to seek perfection and a need for constant reassurance.
Causes of an Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is genetic, according to the NIMH, and worsens when a person is exposed to stress. Generalized anxiety disorder often begins in childhood and is much more common in women than it is in men. Some forms of anxiety disorders may be triggered by a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Treatment of anxiety disorders includes a combination of medication, such as antidepressants, and behavioral therapy. Relaxation techniques and coping strategies are used to help the patient develop an understanding of what triggers their anxiety.
Helping Someone with an Anxiety Disorder
If you suspect you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder, do something about it. Seek professional counseling immediately.