Anxiety Disorder Causes And Risk Factors
When you experience the anxiety symptoms above, you will probably begin to wonder about the reasons for anxiety. While there is no single cause that explains every case of anxiety, some risk factors can lead to the development of anxiety disorders.
Some of the causes and risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of trauma
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What Happens If I Dont Get Treatment For My Child With An Anxiety Disorder
Getting your child help for an anxiety disorder can improve their development and self-esteem. But untreated anxiety disorders can harm:
- Family relationships.
- School performance.
- Social functioning.
Your child may also end up with more serious mental and physical health problems. Fortunately, there are several treatments for anxiety disorders. The right treatment can help your child manage their symptoms and feel their best.
The Most Common Depressive Disorders Include:
- Major depressive disorder This is a depressed mood that lasts for a two-week period. This could occur as a single or recurrent episode.
- Persistent depressive disorder This is a depressed mood that occurs almost every day for at least two years
It’s common for those struggling with anxiety disorders to also struggle with depression or vice versa. Close to 10% of the world’s population suffers from anxiety and depression. However, while anxiety and depressive disorders are highly treatable, only a small percentage of affected people receive treatment.
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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.
How Can I Help Someone With Anxiety
Knowing the symptoms of anxiety can help you realize and act when someone you care about is in distress. Common anxiety behaviors include avoidance of feared situations or events , seeking reassurance, second-guessing, and irritability. The person may be engaging in all-or-nothing thinking or catastrophizing and demonstrating their belief that the worst will happen. If you notice these symptoms, avoid telling the anxious person not to worry or downplaying their feelings, which may leave them feeling misunderstood and belittled. Instead, be an active listener, express your concern, and recognize how difficult this is for them. Kindly encourage them to talk to a mental health professional or to draw on the techniques they have learned in therapy, if they are already in treatment.
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How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children
Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.
But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.
When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help
Not All Anxiety Is A Disorder
Everyone experiences anxiety and fear at times these are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational anxiety and worries that become ongoing and distressing, and that interfere with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no obvious or logical reason for the way the person feels. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the sufferer.
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Panic Attacks Are A Common Symptom
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in certain situations or for no apparent reason. A panic attack does not mean a person is necessarily suffering an anxiety disorder. However, a panic attack is a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of a panic attack may include:
- shortness of breath
The cause of panic attacks is unknown, but they may be related to a chemical response in the brain, caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes in the body, such as shallow breathing and rapid heartbeat.
Panic attacks can be frightening. Some people say they feel like they are going to die or go crazy. People affected by panic attacks may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the development of other anxiety disorders including agoraphobia.
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.
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There Are 5 Types Of Anxiety Disorders:
This is a condition that makes a person feel anxious on a regular basis often without a clear reason. People that experience anxiety on an everyday basis regardless of the presence and severity of problems in their lives are prone to catastrophic thinking, rumination, and excessive worrying.
OCD is a form of anxiety disorder marked by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, images and compulsive behaviors . These repetitive behaviors often serve to harbor obsessive thoughts and relieve the emotional distress associated with them.
Nevertheless, these rituals can give only momentary relief to a person with OCD artificially suppressing the real reasons for their anxiety which can be found in feeling of a forgotten or denied traumatic episode.
Panic disorder is the regular experience of panic attacks: episodes of intense and irrational fear that have very strong physical symptoms shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, the feeling that one is actually about to die or have a serious break down very soon. Panic attacks usually come unpredictably .
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This form of anxiety is marked by panic in social situations. It may be experienced only in specific situations when a performance is required or it may appear every time a person leaves their home and meets people.
Causes Of Anxiety Disorder
Some causes of anxiety disorders are:
- Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Brain chemistry. Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.
- Environmental stress. This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse. Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
- Medical conditions. Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. Itâs important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.
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Ways To Manage The Symptoms
Anxiety is a normal emotion, however, when people experience regular bouts of high levels of anxiety, it could become a disorder.
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the United States. However, only 36.9 percent of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment. Adam Felman
You Cannot Control Your Worrying
With anxiety disorders, worrying is excessive, meaning that you dont just worry about stressful events, like an upcoming exam or presentation. Instead, you constantly worry, and the worry is out of proportion to the present threat. For example, you may worry about the worst possible scenario in every situation.
For people suffering from anxiety, worrying seems to be out of control. Anxious thoughts can become quite intrusive so that a person cannot stop them, even if they find the thoughts to be upsetting.
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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
Finding The Right Resources To Answer Your Questions And Meet Your Complex Needs
Just as anxiety and depression tend to be worse when occurring together, treatment of these disorders is most effective when both conditions are addressed at the same time.1
Hartgrove Behavioral Health System provides integrated care that treats these and other mental health issues simultaneously. As part of our comprehensive care, medical specialists and therapists work together to help bring healing and balance in our patients lives a feeling of being in charge of their inner self again.
2 How to Cope With Anxiety and Depression. Everyday Health, August 27, 2015.
3 Anxiety Disorders. National Institute on Mental Health, March 2016.
4 Depression. National Institute on Mental Health, October 2016.
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How Can I Get Help If I Think I Have An Anxiety Disorder
You should make an appointment to talk with your GP if you are worried about your symptoms. Or they are causing problems in your day to day life.
Your doctor will look at different things when deciding on your treatment such as the following.
- Your diagnosis and symptoms.
- Any other conditions you have.
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .
Talking therapiesThe NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has made psychological therapy more available on the NHS. IAPT services mainly provide support for low to moderate anxiety and depression.
The service can be run by the local NHS Trust or a non-NHS agency, like a charity who work with the local Trust.
IAPT should be available in your area. You can often self-refer or ask your GP to refer you.
To find your local the IAPT service you can search online here:
You can also ask your GP or PALS service for details of local IAPT services.
You can get more information about:
- GP: What to expect from your GP by clicking here.
- Medication. Choice and managing problems by clicking here.
- Talking therapies by clicking here.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has ongoing worry and fear. It is normal to experience anxiety when going through a stressful time occasionally. Still, for people with an anxiety disorder, feelings of anxiety are constant and may even get worse over time.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosable mental health conditions, and as such, they often require professional monitoring and treatment. You will need to consult with a doctor or mental health professional to receive an anxiety disorder diagnosis, but knowing signs that you have anxiety can help you decide whether to seek help.
There are different types of anxiety, but what all of these different disorders have in common is that they lead a person to experience fear and worry that interferes with daily life. For some people, anxiety symptoms may lead to general worry and fear, whereas others may have anxiety related to specific situations or objects.
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Ways To Tell If Youre Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. You might fret about the future or feel nervous before a first date. But some people feel anxious all of the time or at least it seems like it. For people with an anxiety disorder, their anxious feelings can be so frequent or severe that they interfere with their everyday lives. But how can you tell whether your anxiety is normal or if its a diagnosable condition?
Anxiety is often joked about, but its really nothing to look at lightly. These disorders can make it difficult for those suffering from them to go about their daily lives they can interfere with job performance, school, and personal relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that more than 19 percent of Americans are living with an anxiety disorder. And approximately 31.1 percent of adults in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Thats nearly one-third of the population and yet, awareness of anxiety and what it really looks like could still be improved. Though anxiety cannot be cured necessarily, it can be treated with proper access to mental health care. But before anxiety can be treated, the person suffering needs to know that they may have a mental condition and can reach out for help. These 15 signs are common indicators of an anxiety disorder.
What Is Almost Anxious And How Can You Handle It
As anxiety moves along the spectrum from normal to clinical, a gray area in the middle may still have a negative impact on your life: the almost anxious region. When the level of anxiety you experience is no longer adaptive or helpful to your performance and becomes a barrier to your enjoyment of life, but does not yet meet the diagnostic threshold for an anxiety disorder, you are almost anxious. You might find yourself struggling to focus your attention on tasks, distracted by negative thoughts, fear, or unpleasant body sensations. For example, someone who is almost anxious may sit at their desk all day, making minimal progress on an assignment due to constant worries and tightness in the stomach. While anxiety did not make it impossible to come to work, the level of anxiety experienced is making it hard to function. Using this concept of almost anxious can help you catch anxiety before it becomes too extreme, and target it using evidence-based strategies that help move anxiety back along the spectrum to an adaptive level.
When you find yourself feeling too anxious, try evidence-based techniques highlighted in the book Almost Anxious to bring your anxiety levels back to normal. Here are a few tools to try:
About the Author
Luana Marques, PhD, Contributor
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Other Types Of Anxiety Disorder
There are several other types of anxiety disorder, including:
- panic disorder a condition where you have recurring, regular panic attacks for more information, see anxiety, fear and panic
- phobias an extreme or irrational fear of something, like an animal or a place
- agoraphobia a fear related to situations such as leaving home, being in crowds or travelling alone
- obsessive compulsive disorder a condition that usually involves unwanted thoughts or urges, and repetitive behaviours
- post-traumatic stress disorder a condition caused by frightening or distressing events
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