Everyone experiences some worry and anxiety at some point in their lives, as these are normal responses to stress. However, when these feelings disrupt everyday activities and relationships, they become symptoms of a disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in America, affecting more than 40 million people each year in a variety of ways.
Common Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and pervasive worry and anxiety about everyday situations and occurrences. People with GAD might have a constant concern about their health, family, or finances, requiring reassurance that their fears won’t materialize. They may also avoid certain activities out of fear, such as driving on the highway. GAD can cause physical symptoms as well, including digestive problems, sleeping issues, headaches, and tension.
- Panic Disorder
When someone has a panic disorder, they regularly experience panic attacks. These episodes of extreme fear typically last only a few minutes, but they come on quickly with a great deal of intensity. Sometimes, these attacks are triggered by specific situations, but they may also come with no apparent cause. A panic attack is characterized by shortness of breath, heart palpitations or increased heart rate, trembling, sweating, and feelings of a loss of control. Panic disorders can also contribute to other mental health issues, including GAD and phobias, as one can develop a fear of triggers.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is an extreme fear of being embarrassed in front of others, or of others noticing your anxiety. This disorder can be triggered by performance situations or public settings, such as school or work, which may lead to one avoiding those environments altogether.
Also referred to as specific or simple phobias, these disorders refer to an intense fear of particular objects or situations, such as flying or needles. What makes something a phobia is a deliberate avoidance of the item or activity, extreme anxiety about it, and intense fear of any encounter. Phobias are more than just normal anxiety, as they’re fears that are out of proportion with the actual danger.