Anxiety, or persistent and exaggerated worry, is thought to afflict one in four adults across their lifetime. While worry is a natural part of our human condition, it becomes cause for concern when psychosomatic symptoms—muscle tension, tightening of chest, and heart palpatations—are present or everyday activities impaired.
Anxiety disorders include the following:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This is characterized by persistent and excessive worry, restlessness, an unrealistic view of problems, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. It affects about 3 percent of the population, and women are twice as likely to experience GAD as men.
- Social Anxiety Disorder. Those with social anxiety experience physical symptoms, such as blushing, profuse sweating, nausea, trembling, or shortness of breath when in a feared social setting in which they fear being judged or scrutinized. Social anxiety affects about 15 million people with the average age of onset occuring at 13.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This disorder is characterized by irrational and intrusive obsessions and compulsions that cause disruption to one’s daily routine, acitivities, and relationships. Obsessions are considered unwanted intrusive thoughts, while compulsions are ritualistic behaviors and routines observed to avoid anxiety or distress.
- Phobia. Individuals with phobias have a perceived fear of a specific object or situation, like snakes, bees, or flying. They have an inappropriate and elevated response when exposed to these objects or situations.
- Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. About 6 million people experience panic disorder in the United States. What differentiates panic disorder from other anxiety disorders is that an individual has experienced a panic attack and fears the reoccurrence of future attacks. Physical symptoms of a panic attack include: heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, feeling dizzy, and a fear of dying. Panic Disorder can lead to Agoraphobia if the individual begins isolating and withdrawing from activities due to the perceived threat of having a panic attack. Instead, they will avoid feared places like shopping malls or stores and choose to stay at home. Of those with Panic Disorder, one in three will develop symptoms of Agoraphobia.
Our therapists work with clients to identify the source of their anxiety and teach them new skills and techniques to modify behaviors in alignment with personal values. If you or your loved one has one of these forms of anxiety and would like help, contact one of our therapists today.