Insight Behavioral Health – We all feel forms of anxiety and nervousness from time to time. It’s our body’s built-in warning system that keeps us alert, protects us from danger, and allows us to react faster in emergencies. But when anxiety and nervousness start to become disproportionate to the situation and does not go away or gets worse over time, you could be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are some of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 40% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives and approximately 7% of children ages 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it is common to have feelings of fear and uncertainty. Anxiety disorders are very serious and can even be debilitating for some people. But with the right treatments, healthier coping mechanisms, and knowledge about your diagnosis, it is possible to live your life to the fullest without being controlled by your symptoms. Whether you are experiencing anxiety or are simply interested in learning more about mental health, here are eight facts you probably don’t know about anxiety.
There Are Many Types of Anxiety
Anxiety tends to be a catchall term. However, you may be surprised to learn that the variety of anxiety disorders is extensive. The following are just a few of the most common types of anxiety disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Persistent worry or fear that interferes with daily activities.
- Panic Disorder: Also known as panic attacks. Sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort that triggers a physical reaction in instances of no real danger.
- Phobias: Persistent, excessive worry or fear about an object, situation, or activity.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Chronic fear or avoidance of certain social interactions and situations.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Causes children to feel extreme fear of being separated from a parent or loved one.
Anxiety Can Be Genetic
If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and have family members with a history of mental illness, it may not be a coincidence. Studies have shown that anxiety tends to run in families. This connection is believed to be a combination of genetics and environmental factors such as where you grew up, your family’s beliefs and behaviors, and other learned behaviors. Although there is no guarantee you can prevent passing on anxiety to your children, research has found that it is possible to help break family cycles by creating a less anxious environment in your household.
Anxiety & Depression are Closely Related
Although anxiety and depression are both unique mental health conditions, they are closely linked. Anxiety is a common trigger for depression and people with depression often develop symptoms of anxiety. For example, people with anxiety have pervasive thoughts about worries or problems. Over time, these thoughts can then lead to feelings of sadness and failure associated with depression. People with a common form of anxiety called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for example, are also more likely to develop depression.
Anxiety Can Cause Physical Symptoms
Living with anxiety puts a lot of stress on the body. In addition to the mental health impacts, people will also often experience physical symptoms. Headaches, stomachaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and shakiness are all common and the effects of these symptoms can further anxiety, creating a vicious cycle. Fortunately, there are many coping strategies that can help control physical symptoms, including deep breathing exercises and physical activity like running or walking.
Anxiety Often Starts in Childhood
It is normal for children to feel anxious or worried during stressful events like the first day of school. However, if anxiety is affecting your child’s behavior or physical health (e.g. stomachaches, headaches) and is interfering with life at home and school, they may need the help of a mental health professional. When left untreated, childhood anxiety often persists into the teenage years and early adulthood.
Anxiety Can Cause Anger
Anger and irritability are also closely linked to anxiety disorders. Although anxiety doesn’t cause anger, when we feel certain emotions like fear, frustration, or a lack of control, our bodies experience a response called fight or flight. This is our body’s way of protecting itself from perceived or real dangers. Physical symptoms also play a part in anger’s association with anxiety. During anxious moments, we are more likely to experience rapid heart rate, chest tightness, and clenched or tight muscles.
Women Are More Likely Than Men to Experience Anxiety
Although anyone can experience an anxiety disorder, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) reports that “from the time a girl reaches puberty until about the age of 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man.” This may be attributed to a number of factors, including differences in brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations, how women and men cope with stress differently, and other social and cultural factors.
Exercise Can Help With Anxiety
If you experience anxiety, one of the most effective natural ways to ease your symptoms is exercise. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise diverts you from anxious thoughts, decreases muscle tension that contributes to anxiety, and changes your brain chemistry by increasing your heart rate. Plus, regular exercise can build up resilience against future bouts of anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but it can quickly become a serious mental health problem when it impacts your ability to work, go to school, and maintain personal relationships. To learn more about anxiety disorders and treatment options, Insight Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and ask about our telehealth services.
Q: How do I know when to seek treatment for anxiety?
A: It is never too early to explore treatment options for anxiety. Physical symptoms, trouble concentrating, avoidance, constant worrying or overthinking, and feelings of anger or agitation are all signs it’s time to get help.
Q: Can anxiety be cured?
A: There is no cure for anxiety. However, there are many effective treatments to help manage symptoms, including therapy, medications, and making lifestyle adjustments.
Q: Can children be treated for anxiety?
A: Yes. Anxiety disorders are among the most common disorders in children and adolescents. If you suspect your child is struggling with anxiety, professionals can provide support and the right care plan for your child.