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According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH): “Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): “It’s a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety. But you may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions – just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. The term “anxiety disorder” refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry, and includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.”
According to the American Psychiatric Association: “Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. . But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives. Anxiety refers to the anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior. Fear is an emotional response to an immediate threat and is more associated with a fight or flight reaction – either staying to fight or leaving to escape danger. Anxiety disorders can cause people to try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. Job performance, school work, and personal relationships can be affected. In general, for a person to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the fear or anxiety must:
Be out of proportion to the situation or age-inappropriate
Hinder your ability to function normally
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.”
According to the American Psychological Association: “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness: “We all experience anxiety. For example, speaking in front of a group can make us anxious, but that anxiety also motivates us to prepare and practice. Driving in heavy traffic is another common source of anxiety, but it helps keep us alert and cautious to avoid accidents. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress become overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday activities, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.”
What is Anxiety?
Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It is a normal emotion. It’s your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead. Everyone feels anxious now and then. For example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Occasional anxiety is OK. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes but does not interfere with your everyday life. When an individual faces potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival. Since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger sets off alarms in the body and allows evasive action. These alarms become noticeable in the form of a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings. The danger causes a rush of adrenalin, a hormone, and a chemical messenger in the brain, which in turn triggers these anxious reactions in a process called the “fight-or-flight’ response. This prepares humans to physically confront or flee any potential threats to safety. For many people, running from larger animals and imminent danger is a less pressing concern than it would have been for early humans. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, family life, health, and other crucial issues that demand a person’s attention without necessarily requiring the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction. The nervous feeling before an important life event or during a difficult situation is a natural echo of the original ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction. It can still be essential to survival – anxiety about being hit by a car when crossing the street, for example, means that a person will instinctively look both ways to avoid danger. Once the threatening situation has stopped, your body will usually return to normal. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem for you if:
your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.
If your symptoms fit a particular set of medical criteria then you might be diagnosed with a particular anxiety disorder.
What is Anxiety Disorders?
When anxiety is constant or overwhelming—when worries and fears interfere with your relationships and daily life—you’ve likely crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety Disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear. Excessive anxiety can make you avoid work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations that might trigger or worsen your symptoms. If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behave, also causing physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the United States. It is the most common group of mental illnesses in the country. However, only 36.9 percent of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger, and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood. Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment. Whatever form of anxiety you have, treatment can help.
Since anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, symptoms may vary from person to person. One individual may suffer from intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets panicky at the thought of mingling at a party. Someone else may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. Yet another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything. But despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders illicit an intense fear or worry out of proportion to the situation at hand.
While having an anxiety disorder can be disabling, preventing you from living the life you want, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues—and are highly treatable. Once you understand your anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms and regain control of your life.