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What Is Anxiety Disorder Definition

Draw On The Support You Need

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Dont forget that being a good support person means getting support for yourself too.This may mean mutual carer support online or by attending a group of others who are in the same situation education and training in looking after yourself as well as the person with the Anxiety disorder, and finding respite care too so you can take a break.

Treatment And Support For Anxiety

Not everybody who experiences anxiety needs mental health support. For many people, anxiety is a temporary experience, or mild enough to not cause problems.

But many people do find treatment and support helpful. If you are interested in getting support to manage anxiety, its a good idea to talk to a GP first. A GP can provide information and refer you on to other health professionals or support services.

Here are some psychological therapies that have been found to be helpful for managing anxiety disorders :

  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • eye movement desensitisation reprocessing
  • interpersonal psychotherapy.

Some people also find medication helpful to manage their anxiety, particularly if it is severe or ongoing .

Anxiety is a normal part of life, but there are things you can do to help manage it if it is causing problems.

To connect with others who get it, visit our online Forums. Theyre safe, anonymous and available 24/7.

What Kind Of Anxiety Disorder Do You Have

As with every health issue, an accurate diagnosis is essential. A few common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: A pattern of excessive worry about a variety of issues on most days for at least six months, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, a hammering heart, or dizziness.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Feeling significant anxiety in social situations or when called on to perform in front of others, such as in public speaking.
  • Phobias: A particular animal, insect, object, or situation causes substantial anxiety.
  • Panic disorder: Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of heart-banging fear, breathlessness, and dread. Its the feeling youd have if you just missed being hit by a Mack truck but for people with panic disorder there is no Mack truck, says Dr. Beresin.

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What Is An Anxiety Disorder Anxiety Disorder Definition

An anxiety disorder is a common mental illness defined by feelings of uneasiness, worry and fear. While anxiety occurs for everyone sometimes, a person with an anxiety disorder feels an inappropriate amount of anxiety more often than is reasonable. For example, an average individual may feel some anxiety before going to a dentist appointment but a person with anxiety disorder may feel anxiety every time they leave their home.

Many people with an anxiety disorder do not realize they have a defined, treatable disorder and so anxiety disorders are thought to be underdiagnosed conditions.

People with an anxiety disorder often have co-occurring mental health problems, such as depression, and this can increase serious risks like suicide. Often severe anxiety disorder symptoms and panic attacks are a warning sign and increase the risk of suicide.

What Are Anxiety Disorders

15 Common Symptoms Of Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

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Psychologists And Other Clinicians

Clinical and counselling psychologists specialise in the treatment of mental illnesses, including Anxiety disorders. They can provide psychological treatments, which are usually the most effective treatments for Anxiety disorders.For further information, please see the Psychological treatments section in the Guide to Medication and other Treatments.

What Are The Treatments For Anxiety Disorders

The main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy , medicines, or both:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is often used to treat anxiety disorders. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking and behaving. It can help you change how you react to the things that cause you to feel fear and anxiety. It may include exposure therapy. This focuses on having you confront your fears so that you will be able to do the things that you had been avoiding.
  • Medicines to treat anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety medicines and certain antidepressants. Some types of medicines may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders. You should work closely with your health care provider to identify which medicine is best for you. You may need to try more than one medicine before you can find the right one.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with GAD may:

  • Worry excessively about everyday things
  • Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness
  • Know that they worry much more than they should
  • Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Tire easily or feel tired all the time
  • Have headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains
  • Have a hard time swallowing
  • Tremble or twitch
  • Feel irritable or “on edge”
  • Sweat a lot, feel lightheaded, or feel out of breath
  • Have to go to the bathroom frequently

Children and teens with GAD often worry excessively about:

  • Their performance in activities such as school or sports
  • Catastrophes, such as earthquakes or war
  • The health of others, such as family members

Adults with GAD are often highly nervous about everyday circumstances, such as:

  • Job security or performance
  • The health and well-being of their children or other family members
  • Completing household chores and other responsibilities

Both children and adults with GAD may experience physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath that make it hard to function and that interfere with daily life.

Symptoms may fluctuate over time and are often worse during times of stressfor examplewith a physical illness, during school exams, or during a family or relationship conflict.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are like other forms of mental illness. They dont come from personal weakness, character flaws or problems with upbringing. But researchers dont know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect a combination of factors plays a role:

  • Chemical imbalance: Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.
  • Environmental factors: Experiencing a trauma might trigger an anxiety disorder, especially in someone who has inherited a higher risk to start.
  • Heredity: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. You may inherit them from one or both parents, like eye color.

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What Is A Panic Attack

A panic attack is a feeling of intense fear that comes on suddenly and peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. The initial trigger of the fear can be known or unknown.

The physical symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Once youre experiencing a panic attack, the symptoms may get worse if you believe you may be having a heart attack or having a mental health emergency. Another common fear that may exacerbate a panic attack is the fear that you might be judged negatively if youre having an attack in public.

Panic attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. In addition, the many symptoms of anxiety dont happen to everyone, and they can change over time.

Common of a panic attack include:

How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed

If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.

There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.

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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

When you experience symptoms of anxiety, they can manifest as physical symptoms such as:

Neither stress nor anxiety is always bad. Both can provide you with a boost or incentive to accomplish the task or challenge before you. But if these feelings become persistent, they can begin to interfere with your daily life. In that case, its important to get treatment.

Depression And Traumatic Stress

The Struggle is Real: Living With Anxiety

There is evidence that mental health problems, in particular depression and traumatic stress, is linked to cardiovascular diseases. Whereas mental health problems are known to be associated with risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as smoking, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, these factors alone do not explain the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases seen in depression, stress, and anxiety. Moreover, is independently associated with increased risk for incident coronary heart disease, even after adjusting for depression and other covariates.

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Social Anxiety Disorder And Specific Phobias

Social anxiety disorder typically develops in adolescence, is more common in women, and usually runs a chronic course. Symptoms may include a fear of strangers, a fear of humiliation or of being judged by others, and an avoidance of social situations where attention centres on the individual. When confronted with these situations, the individual may experience blushing, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, nausea, sweating, or trembling. Social anxiety disorder often is accompanied by depression and an increased risk of alcohol abuse. Patients with subthreshold symptoms of social anxiety disorder can suffer from significant disability, potentially increasing concurrent depression.

Specific phobias involve irrational fear that is focused on a particular entity or situation . Symptoms of anticipatory anxiety, distress when in the presence of the feared object or situation, and active avoidance of triggering situations are characteristic of individuals with specific phobias.

Anxiety Disorders Can Have Serious Effects

An anxiety disorder may lead to social isolation and clinical depression, and can impair a persons ability to work, study and do routine activities. It may also hurt relationships with friends, family and colleagues. Its common for depression and anxiety to happen at the same time. Depression can be a serious illness with a high risk of self-harm and suicide.

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When Should I Go To The Emergency Room For An Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can resemble symptoms of a heart attack or another health emergency. If youre experiencing an anxiety attack for the first time, or youre concerned in any way about your health, call 911 or head to the nearest ER. A healthcare provider will check you for serious or life-threatening conditions.

If youre having an anxiety attack and unsure whether you should head to an ER or not, its better to go. Healthcare professionals can make sure youre OK and give you any necessary treatment.

What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.

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Anxiety Disorders In General

The first consideration is the possibility that anxiety is due to a known or unrecognized medical condition. Substance-induced anxiety disorder is a diagnosis that often is missed.

Genetic factors significantly influence risk for many anxiety disorders. Environmental factors such as early childhood trauma can also contribute to risk for later anxiety disorders. The debate whether gene or environment is primary in anxiety disorders has evolved to a better understanding of the important role of the interaction between genes and environment. Some individuals appear resilient to stress, while others are vulnerable to stress, which precipitates an anxiety disorder.

Most presenting anxiety disorders are functional psychiatric disorders. Psychological theories range from explaining anxiety as a displacement of an intrapsychic conflict to conditioning paradigms . Many of these theories capture portions of the disorder.

Biological Features Of Adolescents And Anxiety States

Although the exact timing of puberty is not easy to specify, scientists agree that the psychological and biological features of the era called adolescence are influenced by cultural setting. Some cultures, like our own, delay the assumption of adult roles others require a clear transition, with or without a rite-of-passage ceremony . Nonetheless, there is an identifiable period between 12 and 18 years, ubiquitous across societies, characterized by changes in hormones, brain structure, and behavior. These properties may have been conserved over evolution to promote autonomy and to foster dispersal of some individuals from the natal territory to another in order to avoid inbreeding .

Adolescence is marked by a reactivation of the hypothalamicpituitarygonadal axis, development of secondary sexual characteristics, and the onset of reproductive capacity, even though the increased circulation of sex hormones does not account for much of the variance in the behavior of adolescents . The timing of pubertal signs is influenced by gender and environment onset of puberty may be influenced more strongly by environmental stressors in girls than in boys .

Brain Changes

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Are There Clinical Trials Studying Generalized Anxiety Disorder

NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditionsincluding GAD. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.

How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder

Distinguishing Depression From Anxiety In Older Adults

Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:

  • Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
  • Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
  • Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.

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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder

Anxious thoughts and feelings can lead to physical responses too, as the body reacts to the false alarm of anxiety. It goes into flight or fight mode, as though you were in real danger and had to act fast:

  • breathing faster
  • feeling frequently weary, even after sleep
  • restlessness and difficulty relaxing and sleeping.

These physical symptoms can sometimes occur without awareness that they are associated with anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness

Are you afraid of being judged by others? Are you self-conscious in everyday social situations? Do you avoid meeting new people due to fear or anxiety? If you have been feeling this way for at least 6 months and these feelings make it hard for you to do everyday taskssuch as talking to people at work or schoolyou may have social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable. Learn more about the symptoms of social anxiety disorder and how to find help.

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What Is An Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. You may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.

Its normal to have some anxiety. You may feel anxious or nervous if you have to tackle a problem at work, go to an interview, take a test or make an important decision. And anxiety can even be beneficial. For example, anxiety helps us notice dangerous situations and focuses our attention, so we stay safe.

But an anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you may feel from time to time. An anxiety disorder happens when:

  • Anxiety interferes with your ability to function.
  • You often overreact when something triggers your emotions.
  • You cant control your responses to situations.

Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to get through the day. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for anxiety disorders.

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

What is Social Anxiety Disorder? – Health Matters

This online resource, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , helps you locate mental health treatment facilities and programs. Find a facility in your state by searching SAMHSAs online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. For additional resources, visit NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.

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Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

Treatment for an anxiety disorder doesnt just deal with immediate symptoms. It also helps tackle the triggers for symptoms and other contributing factors. You learn to control the anxiety so its effect on your life is reduced or even eliminated.With treatment you will feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Can Foods Treat Anxiety

Doctors commonly use medication and talk therapy to treat anxiety. But lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and regular exercise, can also help. In addition, some research suggests the foods you eat may have a beneficial impact on your brain if you frequently experience anxiety.

These foods include:

As parents, you can communicate openly and honestly with your child while ensuring theyre making healthy decisions.

To learn more about how to support your childs mental health, please check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resource page .

In addition, in cases of children and teens experiencing anxiety in response to something happening within their family or in their home, its a good idea to get family therapy. This is important especially because children and teens may not find it so easy to talk about their feelings or be aware of their anxiety.

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