Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States every year. It’s characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or dread that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, and various phobia-related disorders. GAD is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. Panic Disorder involves unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms. Phobia-related disorders involve a persistent and excessive fear of a specific object, situation, or activity that is generally not harmful.
Symptoms of anxiety can vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general signs include:
Anxiety disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Research suggests that people with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders, while traumatic events such as violence or abuse can also trigger these disorders, particularly in individuals who are already genetically predisposed. Other risk factors include chronic medical conditions, certain medications, and the use of illicit substances.
The diagnosis of an anxiety disorder is based on a thorough clinical interview and diagnostic guidelines. A healthcare provider will consider symptoms and their duration, as well as any coexisting conditions. Diagnostic tests may include physical examinations, blood or urine tests, and psychological questionnaires. It’s important to note that everyone experiences anxiety differently, so diagnoses can vary significantly from person to person.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s essential to know that effective treatments are available. In Atlanta, several mental health clinics offer evidence-based therapies for anxiety disorders, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and medication management. These treatments aim to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and prevent future anxiety attacks. Don’t let anxiety control your life – reach out to a healthcare provider in Atlanta today and start your journey towards recovery.