What are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worry. Including fear about everyday situations and requiring anxiety treatment. These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities and are difficult to control. And are out of proportion to the actual danger while lasting a long time. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.
Anxiety activates the stress response, also known as the fight, flight, or freeze response. This survival reaction immediately stimulates the body into emergency action . The stress response is our ally when in danger. Because of the many changes, the stress response brings about, stress responses stress the body. A body that is stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress. Therefore, anxiety disorder symptoms are symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because anxiety is the main source of stress that causes the body to become stressed and symptomatic.
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Clear signs of anxiety disorder will include you often feeling worried, nervous, and scared. This can also extend to feelings you are always worried that something bad is going to happen. You might even feel out of control. Like there is a disconnect between your body and mind. Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental health conditions. The symptoms of anxiety disorder will often include the following:
- Sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
These symptoms might be normal to experience in daily life but require anxiety treatment and therapy.
What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel helpless, trapped, or embarrassed.
Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of panic or intense anxiety that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
Generalized anxiety disorder includes excessive and persistent anxiety and worries about events or activities — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual situation, is challenging to control, and affects how you feel physically. It often happens along with other depression or anxiety disorders.
Panic disorder includes repeated episodes of sudden feelings of fear and intense anxiety or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending danger, chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid, fluttering, or heart palpitations. These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.
Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work, and social functioning.
Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear, and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of panic or intense anxiety that are a direct result of taking medications, misusing drugs, withdrawal from drugs, or being exposed to a toxic substance.
Other specified anxiety disorders and unspecified anxiety disorders are terms for phobias or anxiety that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be disruptive and distressing.
An anxiety condition isn’t developed or caused by a single factor but a combination of things. A number of other factors play a role, including personality factors, difficult life experiences, and physical health.
Family history of mental health conditions
Some people who experience anxiety conditions may have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety and these conditions can sometimes run in a family. However, having a parent or close relative experience anxiety or other mental health condition doesn’t mean you’ll automatically develop anxiety.
Research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety. For example, children who are perfectionists, easily flustered, timid, inhibited, lack self-esteem, or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety during childhood, adolescence, or as adults.
Ongoing stressful events
Anxiety conditions may develop because of one or more stressful life events. Common triggers include:
- Work stress or job change
- Change in living arrangements
- Pregnancy and giving birth
- Family and relationship problems
- Major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event
- Verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or trauma
- Death or loss of a loved one.
Physical health problems
Chronic physical illness can also contribute to anxiety conditions or impact the treatment of either the anxiety or the physical illness itself. Common chronic conditions associated with anxiety conditions include:
- Hypertension and heart disease
Some physical conditions can mimic anxiety conditions, like an overactive thyroid. It can be useful to see a doctor and be assessed to determine whether there may be a medical cause for your feelings of anxiety.
Other mental health conditions
While some people may experience an anxiety condition on its own, others may experience multiple anxiety conditions or other mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety conditions often occur together. It’s important to check for and get assistance for all these conditions at the same time.
Some people who experience anxiety may use alcohol or other drugs to help them manage their condition. In some cases, this may lead to people developing a substance use problem along with their anxiety condition. Alcohol and substance use can aggravate anxiety conditions particularly as the effects of the substance wear off. It’s important to check for and get assistance for any substance use conditions at the same time.
Anxiety Risks Factors
These factors may increase your risk of developing an anxiety disorder:
- Stress buildup
- Drugs or alcohol
- Other mental health disorders
- Having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder
- Added stress due to an illness
Complications from Anxiety
If you neglected or disregarded all the signs and symptoms of Anxiety. It can also lead to worsening or other mental and physical conditions, such as:
- Problems functioning at school or work
- Headaches and chronic pain
- Social isolation
- Trouble sleeping
- Digestive or bowel problems
- Depression or other mental health disorders
- Poor quality of life
- Substance misuse
Anxiety Disorder Treatment Programs
Anxiety treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication. But you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you are anxious:
- Getting help early is one of the treatments for anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, and can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Staying active is one of the best treatments because you need to participate in activities. That you are likely to enjoy. Social interaction and caring relationships, which can lessen your worries can also help.
- Avoid alcohol or drug use that can cause or worsen anxiety. If you are addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you cannot quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
- Stress management is a process of learning to manage the stress that can help limit potential triggers.
- Relaxation techniques are simple activities that can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety.
- Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones will help create a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear. This can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a specific cause, such as a phobia.
Moderate Anxiety Treatment
People with moderate levels of anxiety have more frequent or persistent symptoms than those with mild anxiety, but still have better daily functioning than someone with severe anxiety or panic disorder.
Although moderate anxiety symptoms are disruptive, people with moderate anxiety may have success in managing their anxiety with the help of a doctor or self-help strategies.
Severe Anxiety Symptoms & Treatment
Anxiety is not just about feeling anxious – it is also about the physical and real symptoms caused by an anxiety disorder. The anxiety and deep fear of a person are supported by severe, physical symptoms of anxiety.
Physical Symptoms of Severe Anxiety
Physical symptoms of severe anxiety are typical in panic attacks and include:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Shaking or trembling
- Shortness of breath; feeling of being smothered or choked
- Chest pain
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Chills or hot flashes
- Becoming detached from oneself and the environment
- Numbness or tingling sensations
Psychological Symptoms of Severe Anxiety
Intense fears of losing control, going crazy, or dying are common psychological symptoms of severe anxiety. There are additional symptoms, though, depending on the type of anxiety disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can produce symptoms of severe anxiety including:
- Feelings of a shortened life
- Psychologically reliving the traumatic event
- Overreacting with intense fear to anything reminiscent of the traumatic event
- Overreacting with fear when startled
- Looking for and seeing danger everywhere
Behavioral Symptoms of Severe Anxiety
Behavioral symptoms of severe anxiety often take the form of avoidance. Because severe anxiety symptoms are so terrifying, people will do almost anything to avoid feeling them. This might include:
- Not seeing certain people
- Not going to specific places
- Not having specific experiences
These severe symptoms of anxiety can even escalate until the person refuses to leave the house or talk to most people.
Other severe behavioral symptoms of anxiety include those seen in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD become obsessed with ideas such as:
Once an obsession takes hold, the person feels an overwhelming urge to perform an action, a compulsion, also known as a ritual. Examples of severe compulsions include:
- Picking of skin and hair around the face until there are open wounds
- Washing of hands until the skin is raw
- Being unable to leave the house due to repeated checking of things related to safety such as turning off the stove
Severe anxiety is intensely debilitating, and symptoms of severe anxiety meet key diagnostic criteria for clinically-significant anxiety disorder.
Severe anxiety symptoms also frequently co-occur with major depression, which can contribute to greater disability. Symptoms of severe anxiety are frequent and persistent and may include increased heart rate, feelings of panic, and social withdrawal. These symptoms can result in loss of work and increased health care costs. In addition, individuals with severe anxiety may turn to alcohol and drugs as a means to cope with their symptoms.
Psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for severe anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders.
Anxiety & Stress
If you feel that either stress or anxiety are affecting your day-to-day functioning or mood, consider talking to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you are experiencing and provide you with additional coping tools. For example, a psychologist can help determine whether you may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders differ from short-term feelings of anxiety in their severity and in how long they last: The anxiety typically persists for months and negatively affects mood and functioning. Some anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia (the fear of public or open spaces), may cause the person to avoid enjoyable activities or make it difficult to keep a job.
Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse
A substantial number of people who have problems with alcohol also experience strong anxiety and mood problems. From the psychological perspective, behavioral research demonstrates that drinking to cope with negative affect is a potent indicator for current and future problems with alcohol. Neuroscientific research implicates overlapping neurobiological systems and psychological processes in promoting the rise of negative affect and alcohol misuse.
Research has shown that up to 50% of individuals receiving treatment for problematic alcohol use also met diagnostic criteria for one or more anxiety disorders. This percentage can be compared with the prevalence of current (within the past 12 months) anxiety disorders in the U.S. community, which is estimated to be 11%. Regardless of which came first, having a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or an alcohol use disorder could cause the other disorder to occur.
Alcohol and Depression
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) |3|, symptoms of depression co-occur with alcohol dependence in about 80 percent of patients, and 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime.
Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been properly diagnosed, usually turn to alcohol to escape. Hopeless and desperate to feel better or anesthetize the pain, even for a small amount of time. Individuals who suffer from depression often use the numbing and pleasurable effects of alcohol for that purpose. Alcohol abuse is prevalent among people who suffer from depression. Drinking alcohol may increase depression, anxiety, and other mental health condition.
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows the body down. Research has consistently shown that alcohol consumption increases both the severity and the duration of depressive episodes. Alcohol also increases the possibility, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts. It can also cause other stressors in life, such as family and work problems that worsen depression.
Residential Treatment For Anxiety
There is a strong link between mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder and substance use. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment. To determine the most effective ways to treat alcohol and anxiety problems, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Psychotherapy for Depression and Anxiety
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term substance use and anxiety problems, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on anxiety treatment, dual diagnosis, and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.