It’s natural to feel anxious from time to time. After all, anxiety is our body’s way of preparing us to face challenges. In small doses, anxiety can be useful. It can help us stay alert and focused, push us to perform at our best, and motivate us to take action.
But when anxiety becomes constant and overwhelming, it can interfere with our daily lives and prevent us from doing the things we enjoy. That’s when it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional. If you’re struggling with with one of the anxiety disorders, know that you’re not alone—an estimated 40 million adults in the United States live with anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own symptoms and characteristics. Some of the most common include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People with GAD feel perpetual fear and unease that is not specific to any one situation or place. This can make everyday activities feel very daunting and make it hard to concentrate. People with GAD often worry about things like their health, finances, family, or whether they’ve made a mistake at work.
Symptoms of GAD can include feeling restless or on edge, having difficulty concentrating, feeling easily fatigued, and experiencing persistent muscle tension. In addition, people with GAD often experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, sweating, trembling, heart palpitations and dizziness. The constant anxiety can also cause sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
These symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as work, school, or relationships. If you are experiencing symptoms of GAD, it is important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. With treatment, symptoms of GAD can be managed and the condition can be controlled.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Also known as social phobia, SAD is characterized by an intense fear of social situations. People with social anxiety disorder may dread activities such as public speaking, meeting new people, or attending parties.
People with SAD often worry about being embarrassed or humiliated in social situations. As a result, people with social anxiety disorder may avoid social situations altogether, or they may endure them with great discomfort.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder include feeling extremely self-conscious, anxious, and fearing that others will judge or ridicule them. People with the condition may also experience sweating, heart palpitations, difficulty speaking, breathlessness, dry mouth, and feeling like they are going to faint. In severe cases, symptoms may also include panic attacks.
Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of intense fear or terror (known as panic attacks) that come on suddenly and without warning.
These attacks can cause physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, shaking, and dizziness. Panic attacks can be so severe that some people believe they’re having a heart attack or are going crazy.
These symptoms can occur suddenly and without warning. In some cases, people with panic disorder may also experience a fear of dying or losing control. Panic disorder can be extremely debilitating, making it difficult for people to go about their everyday lives.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that involves a fear of situations where escape might be difficult or help would not be available if things went wrong.
People with agoraphobia often avoid crowded places like shopping malls or public transportation for fear of having a panic attack in these settings. This can lead to symptoms like sweating, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing.
In severe cases, people with agoraphobia may avoid leaving their homes altogether.
Managing Anxiety Disorders
Here are a few tips for managing anxiety disorders on your own:
Identify your triggers: What makes your anxiety worse? Once you know what sets off your anxiety, you can begin to avoid or manage these triggers.
Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation are all effective ways to reduce stress and calm the mind and body.
Get regular exercise: Exercise releases endorphins—the body’s “feel-good” chemicals—which can boost your mood and ease anxiety. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise three to five times per week can make a big difference.
Limit your alcohol intake: Alcohol may seem like an effective way to self-medicate anxiety, but it is actually a central nervous system depressant that can make anxiety symptoms worse in the long run . Stick to no more than one drink per day if you choose to drink at all.
Conclusion – Anxiety Disorders can be Overcome
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all experience from time to time. However, when anxiety starts to interfere with our daily lives, it’s important to seek help.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable—most people who seek treatment see a significant reduction in their symptoms. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a therapist or other mental health professional. With treatment, you can learn how to manage your anxiety in a healthy way and take back control of your life.