If you are plagued by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear – so strong that they are interfering with your everyday activities – you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
And you shouldn’t feel alone or strange for feeling that way, as more than three million Americans are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year. Examples include panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- A level of stress that is out of proportion to the impact of an event you have experienced
- You are uncontrollably restless
- You’re unable to put aside a worry
Here are some of the most common forms of anxiety disorders:
This type of anxiety disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks, sudden periods of intense fear that may cause palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and a numbing feeling that something terrible is about to happen. This may be accompanied by ongoing concern about having further attacks or avoidance of places where attacks have occurred before.
Often, panic disorders run in one’s family, though risk factors include psychological stress, a history of child abuse, and smoking.
About 2.5 percent of people are affected by a panic disorder at some time in their life. It typically begins during adolescence or early adulthood, but it can affect anyone. Panic disorders are less common in children and the elderly, and women are more often affected than men.
Treatment for panic disorder includes counseling – typically cognitive behavioral therapy – and medication including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or beta blockers.
Constant worrying, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating is symptomatic of generalized anxiety disorder. GAD can occur at any age and can usually be treated with counseling and anti-depressant medication.
PTSD develops in some people who have experienced a traumatic or life threatening event. It is a common disorder among military personnel who have been in combat, law enforcement officers, prisoners and first responders. Also many people who were subject to physical or sexual abuse may suffer of PTS. The condition can last for years, triggered by memories of the trauma which cause intense emotional and physical reactions.
Symptoms of PTSD may include nightmares, heightened reaction, anxiety, or depressed mood. Treatments include various types of trauma-focused psychotherapy and medications that manage symptoms.
OCD is a disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts or fears that lead to compulsive behaviors that interfere with your daily life. Examples include having a fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a certain order.
Treatment for OCD includes psychotherapy therapy, medications, or both