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Anxiety: Everything from fast facts to symptoms to getting help

 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a future-oriented emotion, marked by negative anticipation of upcoming events. When this feeling begins to interfere with daily functioning, it’s considered an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders in the US, affecting over 40 million adults every year. 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old will also deal with an anxiety disorder.


Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself differently for each person. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge

  • Autonomic hyperactivity

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping well

  • Being easily fatigued

  • Having difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind has “gone blank”

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Hyperactivity

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

Many of these symptoms can occur when we’re stressed. When they begin to occur without having a specific cause, however, it’s possible that there may be an anxiety disorder at play.

Crisis Text Line can help you manage everything from test anxiety to panic attacks. If you or someone you know is struggling, text a Crisis Counselor at 741741, or use the mobile text button below. Let’s take on anxiety in all of its forms.

Types of Anxiety

There are several different types of diagnosable anxiety, each with its own definition and symptoms. The most common anxiety disorder, according to the current Diagnostic and Statstic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive anxiety and worry occurring most days for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance)

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations.

  • Panic Disorder: recurrent unexpected panic attacks that cause the person to change their behavior in order to avoid having them. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which the person may experience:

    • Accelerated heart rate

    • Sweating

    • Trembling or shaking

    • Shortness of breath or the feeling of being smothered

    • Chest pain

    • Nausea or stomaach pain

    • Chills or overheating

    • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, or lightheaded

    • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

    • Fear of dying

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: fear of being separated from someone that the person is deeply attached to, usually because there is a worry something may happen to the while they’re away

  • Specific Phobias: intense fear or anxiety about a specific thing or situation (ex. spiders, heights, flying)

  • Agoraphobia: intense fear of being in open spaces or crowded social spaces out of the fear of having an extreme anxiety reaction

  • Selective Mutism: the inability to speak in social situations, despite having normally developed language skills. This is considered a severe anxiety reaction, associated with extreme shyness


Anxiety and Depression

As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes, nearly 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It’s important to note, however, that depression and anxiety disorders, while linked, are different in terms of symptoms and causes.

Anxiety and Panic

Similar to anxiety and depression, anxiety and panic attacks are linked but not necessarily one and the same. Panic attacks are a common fear response in anxiety disorders, but can also be a symptom of other mental illnesses. It is also to have a panic attack without having a mental illness

Anxiety and Stress

Much like fear, stress is a response to a situation or threat in our lives. Anxiety, as ADAA notes, is the response to that stress. It’s normal to feel stressed or even anxious at certain points in our lives. Understanding how one feeds into the other can also be helpful in reducing both.


Anxiety Statistics

  • Approximately 18% of the US population will be dealing with an anxiety disorder at any time

  • Globally, 1 in 13 people lives with an anxiety disorder

  • The most common anxiety disorder is social anxiety disorder, which is present in almost 7% of adults in the US

  • Women under the age of 18 are significantly more than likely to develop an anxiety disorder than males of the same age (38% vs 29% respectively)

  • While highly treatable, only about 36% of those dealing with anxiety will receive adequate treatment


What Causes Anxiety?

There is no one cause for anxiety, but some risk factors include:

  • Genetics: researchers have found that people who develop anxiety disorders before the age of 20 are more likely to have close relatives with anxiety disorders.

  • Brain Chemistry: stress can change the chemical balance in the brain, thereby affecting mood.

  • Personality: certain personality traits, including high neuroticism and low extraversion can be linked to certain anxiety disorders

  • Life Events: traumatic life events can permanently change our brains

Anxiety Treatment and Prevention

Anxiety is highly treatable. Some common treatment options for anxiety include:

  • Focusing on your breathing to find a place of calm can help minimize anxious sensations.

  • Stress management techniques, including aerobic exercise, yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

  • Maintaining regular sleep patterns

  • Psychotherapy, including “talk therapy,” cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy

  • Medications, while not a cure-all, can help with curbing symptoms


Talking to your general physician is a great first step to learning more about how you’re feeling, and the options around managing your mental wellness that will be most effective for you.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, we can help. Text a Crisis Counselor at 741471 or use the mobile click to text button below. You’re not alone.