Anxiety is a normal human reaction to stressful or harmful situations. When your brain detects potential danger, it releases hormones to prepare you for self-defense. But for some people, these feelings of anxiety can spiral out of control, interfering with daily life and making it difficult to function.
If you’re having a hard time getting a handle on your anxiety, it’s possible you have an anxiety disorder. The good news is, with proper treatment, you can learn to keep your anxious feelings at bay and get back to living a full, happy life.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults. According to the American Psychiatric Association, an anxiety disorder is present when feelings of fear and anxiety are:
Out of proportion to the severity of a given situation, and
Interfering with your ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis.
There are several different anxiety disorders, each with their own specific set of symptoms. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Also known as GAD, this is characterized by constant, excessive worry over everyday activities and minor concerns. There may also be physical symptoms, such as sleeplessness, muscle tension, or fatigue.
People with panic disorder suffer from anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, which are episodes of severe, overwhelming physical and psychological distress. Many people who experience anxiety attacks fear they’re having a heart attack, due to the heart palpitations, sweating, and chest pain often associated with them.
There is a wide range of specific phobias, in which excessive fear of a person, place, or thing persists, even when the person knows the feeling is irrational. These fears can often be debilitating. Some examples of phobias include fear of flying, fear of heights, or fear of snakes.
Social anxiety disorder
People with social anxiety disorder are afraid of interacting in social situations due to fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection. They will sometimes go to extreme lengths to avoid meeting new people or being in social situations.
When to seek professional help for anxiety symptoms
Anxiety disorders manifest differently in different people, so your symptoms may vary from those of others with the same diagnosis. However, there are a few key signs that it may be time to seek professional help. Reach out to a mental health professional if:
Your anxiety is interfering with your daily routine
You feel consumed by feelings of anxiety
You feel physically ill, with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or muscle tension
You have difficulty eating or sleeping
You’re self-medicating with alcohol or drugs
You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Treatment for anxiety disorders
Living with an anxiety disorder can be extremely distressing, but it is a treatable condition. Your first step toward treatment is seeing a mental health professional who can properly diagnose you. Once a diagnosis has been made, your treatment plan will likely consist of some combination of the following:
Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, can help you understand the causes of your anxious feelings, and learn to change your way of dealing with them.
Some people may benefit from anti-anxiety medications, which can help relieve severe symptoms.
Establishing healthy habits and making changes to your lifestyle can help you overcome an anxiety disorder. Eating well, exercising, and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation can help you cope with your symptoms and calm your anxious thoughts.
Alvarado Parkway Institute offers treatment for anxiety disorders
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we know that living with an anxiety disorder can be devastating and debilitating. Our inpatient anxiety treatment program can help you get your life back from the clutches of anxious thinking. Through intensive therapy, medication management, and education, we empower our patients to understand their illness and develop healthy coping strategies so they can go on to live happy, satisfying lives.
If you’re struggling with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, call our 24-hour crisis line at (619) 667-6125 to find out how we can help you.