Like many mental disorders, anxiety disorder is rooted in something we all experience – anxiety. Experiencing this is normal – any of us might find ourselves worrying about basic life problems like money and health. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are when those feelings of anxiety don’t leave, and often get worse. Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to lead a “normal” life, affecting work, school, and home life.
How Many Types of Anxiety Disorders are There?
While there are numerous such disorders, some of the most common are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. Generalized anxiety disorder means that the feelings of dread or anxiety are persistent, affecting the person’s daily life negatively. Panic disorder involves unexpected and frequent panic attacks – often with a pounding heart, sweating, and chest pain – all the kinds of symptoms that can cause the panic to cycle and continue for much longer than it would in someone else.
Who is At Risk for Anxiety Disorders?
As with many mental health disorders, anxiety disorders can be linked to both genetic and environmental factors. Each variety of anxiety disorder will be associated with its own set of risk factors, but some may include:
- Distress or shyness as a result of new situations during childhood
- Being exposed to negative and stressful life and environmental events
- A history of mental disorders in the family, especially anxiety disorders
Additionally, symptoms of anxiety can be aggravated by caffeine or other medications and substances, and some physical conditions, like heart arrhythmia and thyroid problems. Anything that changes how the body experiences certain feelings also associated with anxiety has the potential to aggravate anxiety disorders.
Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Its Own Diagnosis?
The short answer is yes. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, often experience a general feeling of anxiety or dread, sometimes for months or even years. They may be easily worn out and have trouble concentrating, and even experience stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, and difficulty sleeping. While “Generalized” may make it seem like an umbrella term, in this case, it means that the person suffering from it will experience anxiety that is not panic or phobia related.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?
Like many mental disorders, psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is often the first line of defense, and is most effective when it is specifically geared toward the type or types of anxiety from which you suffer. Cognitive therapy may also be attempted – this is a method of learning new ways to approach their thoughts, feelings, and anxieties to help deal with them at the moment. Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, may also be worth a try – this is primarily focused on setting goals and increasing mindfulness. Medication may be an option as well. If you or someone you care for might be suffering from an anxiety disorder, contact Maryland Primary Care so that we can help you come up with a treatment plan that takes your needs and diagnosis into account.