Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders
A mix of genetic and environmental factors can raise a persons risk for developing anxiety disorders. You may be at higher risk if you have or had:
- Certain personality traits, such as shyness or behavioral inhibition feeling uncomfortable with, and avoiding, unfamiliar people, situations or environments.
- Stressful or traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood.
- Family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Certain physical conditions, including thyroid problems and heart arrhythmias .
Anxiety disorders occur more often in women. Researchers are still studying why that happens. It may come from womens hormones, especially those that fluctuate throughout the month. The hormone testosterone may play a role, too men have more, and it may ease anxiety. Its also possible that women are less likely to seek treatment, so the anxiety worsens.
Risk Factors For Anxiety Disorder
Some things also make you more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors you canât change, but others you can.
Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of mental health disorder. Having another mental health disorder, like depression, raises your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Childhood sexual abuse. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect during childhood is linked to anxiety disorders later in life.
- Trauma. Living through a traumatic event increases the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder , which can cause panic attacks.
- Negative life events. Stressful or negative life events, like losing a parent in early childhood, increase your risk for anxiety disorder.
- Severe illness or chronic health condition. Constant worry about your health or the health of a loved one, or caring for someone who is sick, can cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
- Substance abuse. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs makes you more likely to get an anxiety disorder. Some people also use these substances to hide or ease anxiety symptoms.
- Being shy as a child. Shyness and withdrawal from unfamiliar people and places during childhood is linked to social anxiety in teens and adults.
- Low self-esteem. Negative perceptions about yourself may lead to social anxiety disorder.
Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:
Recommended Reading: How To Describe Anxiety To Doctor
How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder
There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:
- Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
- Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
- Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
- Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.
Why Does Anxiety So Often Occur With Depression
Depression and anxiety share much in commonthey both derive from overresponsiveness of the negative affect system, the distinguishing feature of the personality trait of neuroticism. People with the trait of neuroticism tend to react to experience most readily and most strongly with negative emotions, such as irritability, anger, and sadness. Many of the same brain regions malfunction in both conditions, most notably the amygdala and prefrontal cortex . But there are important differences. Anxiety is an alarm intended to energize people to avoid possible future danger they sense depression shuts people down when they feel overwhelmed, disinclining them to ongoing activity and focusing their attention on losses and other negative experiences in the past. Stress can trigger both responses. And anxiety itself can lead to depression. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people who suffer from depression also have anxiety, and 50 percent of those with anxiety have clinical depression.
Is Anxiety Ever Good
Anxiety is the reason your ancestors survived, enabling you to be reading these words now. Anxiety reflects the sensations that are triggered in body and brain in response to perceiving a threat theyre intended as an alarm, to jolt you into paying attention and taking appropriate action to head off possible danger. In short, anxiety protects you. But the system is built to err on the side of caution, which is why we feel anxious even in the absence of a real threat. The sensitivity of the alarm can be reset by traumatic experience so that it is always on. Further, the threats can be wholly invented by your own imaginationthoughts of ways any situation could possibly go wrong. Neither flaw in the system diminishes the value of anxietyto keep you alive.
What Is The Anxiety Trick
The Anxiety Trick is this: You experience Discomfort, and get fooled into treating it like Danger.
What do we do when we’re in danger? We only have three things: Fight, Flight, and Freeze. If it looks weaker than me, I’ll fight it. If it looks stronger than me, but slower, I’ll run away. And if it looks stronger and faster than me, I’ll freeze and hope it doesn’t see so good. That’s all we have for danger.
When people experience the fear of a panic attack, or a phobic encounter, or an obsessive thought, they instinctively treat it as a danger. They try to protect themselves, with some variation of Fight, Flight, or Freeze.
Read Also: Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Diabetes
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders
Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.
The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.
Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety
There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
- Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.
During therapy, continue to show your support by:
- Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
- Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
- Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
- Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.
Read Also: Is Ashwagandha Good For Anxiety
How People Get Tricked
People’s natural instincts to protect themselves are what lead them to get tricked. See if you recognize your responses in these examples below.
A person with Panic Disorder gets tricked into holding her breath and fleeing the store , rather than shifting to Belly Breathing. and staying there until the feelings pass.
A person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder gets tricked into trying to stop the unwanted “what if?” thoughts, rather than accepting them and taking care of present business as thoughts come and go.
A person with Social Phobia gets tricked into avoiding the party, or hiding in the corner if he attends, rather than say hello to a stranger and see what happens.
A person with OCD gets tricked into repeatedly washing his hands, or returning home to check the stove, rather than accepting the intrusive thoughts of contamination and fire and returning his energies to the present activities at hand.
A person with a dog phobia gets tricked into avoiding the feelings by avoiding all dogs, rather than spending time with a dog until the feelings pass.
How Anxiety Disorders Affect People
For people dealing with anxiety disorders, symptoms can feel strange and confusing at first. For some, the physical sensations can be strong and upsetting. For others, feelings of doom or fear that can happen for no apparent reason can make them feel scared, unprotected, and on guard. Constant worries can make a person feel overwhelmed by every little thing. All this can affect someone’s concentration, confidence, sleep, appetite, and outlook.
People with anxiety disorders might avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand. They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone.
Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or mistakenly think that anxiety is a weakness or a personal failing. Anxiety can keep people from going places or doing things they enjoy.
The good news is, doctors today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, a person can feel better.
Recommended Reading: What Does An Anxiety Attack Feel Like Physically
The Effects Of Anxiety On The Body
Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or in a job interview.
In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, concentrating blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation.
If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.
Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health .
Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. They include:
Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:
- Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
- Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
- Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
- Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
- Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
- Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
- Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
- Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
- Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
- Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.
You May Like: Can You Get Diagnosed With Anxiety
The Causes Of Anxiety
The true cause of anxiety is being a human being, gifted with the capacity to imagine a future. As a mental state of apprehension about what might, or might not, lie ahead, anxiety reflects uncertainty about future circumstances, whether regarding ones own health, job, or love life, or climate change or a downturn in the economy. It can be triggered by events in the real worldan upcoming doctors visit, relationship conflict, a rent increaseor generated wholly internally, through thoughts of real or imagined threats .
Occasional bouts of anxiety are entirely normal and one of the unavoidable costs of being alive anxiety alerts us to danger, compels our attention, and urges us to make necessary preparations to protect ourselves. But sometimes worries intensify or persist, endlessly caroming through the brain without engaging problem-solving mechanisms, or overwhelming them, and impairing the ability to function. Many factors can contribute to prolonged ruminationworry, the cognitive component of anxiety over uncertain outcomes.
On This Page
Should I Claim Disability For My Anxiety Disorder
So, you know what the expectations are for those claiming disability due to an anxiety disorder. Now the question is, Should I claim disability for my anxiety disorder?
While the appeal of a free paycheck and minimizing your exposure to stress might sound nice, is it really whats best for you in the long run?
The answer to this question is going to depend entirely upon your personal situation and long-term goals. If your anxiety is extremely severe in nature and your interest is solely in minimizing it rather than overcoming it, filing for disability may be worthwhile.
If youre young, early in your career, or hoping to actually beat anxiety long-term rather than merely avoiding its triggers then my opinion would be to avoid filing for disability due to anxiety disorder.
Now, this is a matter of opinion, but the root of the problem with claiming disability for anxiety is this:
Getting out of working is considered avoidant behavior. Avoidant behavior is extremely appealing to those of us with anxiety. We think, if we stay away from what stresses us out, well have less anxiety.
While we try and rationalize this as a good idea, its often a terrible strategy for coping with anxiety long-term. The reason for this is because avoidance actually reinforces our anxiety disorder.
Rather than claiming disability outright, giving in to your disorder, I recommend you consider some alternatives.
Don’t Miss: What To Use For Anxiety Attacks
What Are Anxiety Disorders
We all have feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes. These can be normal responses to certain situations. For example, you might worry about a job interview, or about paying a bill on time. These feelings can give you an awareness of risks and what you need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. This reaction is known as fight or flight.
Your brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. Once the threatening situation has stopped, your body will usually return to normal.
But if you have an anxiety disorder these feelings of fear and danger can be ongoing and interrupt your daily routine long after the threat has gone. They can make you feel as though things are worse than they actually are.
Everyones experience of anxiety disorders is different. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms.
Mental symptoms of anxiety can include:
- racing thoughts,
Anxiety can lead to depression if left untreated.