January 20, 2023

Anxiety Disorder Explained: Causes, Symptoms, and Strategies for Relief.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry or fear about everyday situations. Symptoms can include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder (a) (b). Treatment for anxiety disorders typically includes therapy and medication.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety.

Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include (d):

  • Persistent and excessive worry or fear about everyday situations
  • Physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and muscle tension
  • Avoiding situations that cause anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • Restlessness and feeling on edge
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear and physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

It’s worth to mention that the symptoms can vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, and some people may experience more severe symptoms than others. And also, some people may have an underlying medical condition that causes anxiety-like symptoms, and in these cases, treating the underlying condition may alleviate the anxiety.

Types of Anxiety Disorder.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with their own set of symptoms and characteristics. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include (e) (f):

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday events and activities, such as work, school, or health.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): characterized by an intense fear of social situations and being judged or evaluated by others.
  • Panic Disorder: characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and shaking.
  • Specific Phobia: characterized by an intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights, animals, or flying.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): is characterized by persistent and unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) that drive a person to repeat certain behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) in an attempt to reduce anxiety.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): characterized by intense fear, avoidance, and traumatic memories following a traumatic event, such as military combat, sexual assault, or a serious accident.
  • Agoraphobia: characterized by a fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of having a panic attack or panic-like symptoms.

It’s worth noting that many people have symptoms of more than one anxiety disorder, and they may overlap or be comorbid with other mental health conditions.

Cause of Anxiety Disorder.

The exact cause of anxiety disorders is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors (c).

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that anxiety disorders can run in families, suggesting that certain genetic factors may make some people more susceptible to developing anxiety disorders.
  • Environmental factors: Trauma, stress, and adverse life events can all contribute to the development of anxiety disorders.
  • Psychological factors: anxiety disorders may also be caused by abnormal activity in certain areas of the brain or imbalances in certain neurotransmitters.

Additionally, some medical conditions, such as heart disease, thyroid problems, and diabetes, can also cause symptoms of anxiety. It’s worth mentioning that some people may have an underlying medical condition that causes anxiety-like symptoms, and in these cases, treating the underlying condition may alleviate the anxiety.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorder.

Treatment for anxiety disorders typically includes therapy and medication. The most effective treatment plan will depend on the specific type and severity of the anxiety disorder (g).

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety.

Medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, can also be used to treat anxiety disorders. These medications can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve overall functioning.

In some cases, a combination of therapy and medication may be the most effective treatment plan.

Other treatments that may be helpful for anxiety disorders include mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s important to consult a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.

Find a Therapist for Anxiety Near You.

There are several ways to find a therapist for depression:

  1. Ask your primary care physician for a referral: Many primary care physicians have a list of therapists that they trust and can refer you to.
  2. Search online: There are many online directories of therapists, such as Psychology Today, that allow you to search for therapists by location, specialty, and insurance.
  3. Contact your insurance company: Most insurance companies have a list of in-network providers, including therapists, that they can provide you with.
  4. Check with a professional organization: Many professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, have directories of therapists that specialize in specific areas.
  5. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or support groups: Personal recommendations can be helpful in finding a therapist that is a good fit for you.

When looking for a therapist, it’s also important to consider factors such as the therapist’s qualifications, experience, and approach to treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or interview the therapist before committing to working with them. It’s important to find a therapist you feel comfortable with and trust.

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