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Anxiety

What is Anxiety

There are many types of anxiety disorders that include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious, or nervous, when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different.  They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life.

Anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling.

Common Causes

The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown; but anxiety disorders, like other forms of mental illness are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.

Anxiety disorders affect about 19 million adult Americans.  Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.  They occur slightly more often in women than in men, and occur with equal frequency in whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Ritualistic behaviors such as repeated hand washing
  • Problems Sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

Possible Ways to Lesson Symptoms

Anxiety disorders cannot be prevented; however, there are some things you can do to control or lesson symptoms:

  • Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
  • Ask your doctors or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies.  Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.
  • Seek counseling and support after a traumatic or disturbing experience.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic Disorder: People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Other symptoms of a panic attack include sweating, chest pain, palpitations (irregular heartbeats), and a feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or “going crazy”.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  People with OCD are plagued by constant thoughts or fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions, and the rituals are called compulsions.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. People with PTSD often have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and tend to be emotionally numb.
  • Social Anxiety: Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about every day social situations.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety