Everybody knows what it's like to feel anxious -- the butterflies in your stomach before a first date, the tension you feel when your boss is angry, and the way your heart pounds if you're in danger. Anxiety rouses you to action. It gears you up to face a threatening situation. It makes you study harder for that exam, and keeps you on your toes when you're making a speech. In general, it helps you cope.
But if you have an
, this normally helpful emotion can do just the opposite -- it can keep
you from coping and can disrupt your daily life. There are several
types of anxiety disorders, each with their own distinct features.
anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time, without
any apparent reason. Or the anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable
that to avoid them you may stop some everyday activities. Or you may
have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense they terrify and immobilize
Anxiety disorders are the most common of all the mental health
disorders. Considered in the category of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social
Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Specific Phobia, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, and Acute Stress Disorder.
Anxiety disorders as a whole
cost the United States between 42-46 billion dollars a year in direct
and indirect healthcare costs, which is a third of the yearly total
mental health bill of 148 billion dollars.
In the United States, social
phobia is the most common anxiety disorder with approximately 5.3
million people per year suffering from it.
Approximately 5.2 million
people per year suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
for panic disorder range between 3 to 6 million people per year, an
anxiety disorder that twice as many women suffer from as men. Specific
phobias affect more than 1 out of every 10 people with the prevalence
for women being slightly higher than for men. Obsessive Compulsive
disorder affects about every 2 to 3 people out of 100, with women and
men being affected equally.
Many people still carry the misperception that anxiety disorders are a
character flaw, a problem that happens because you are weak. They say,
"Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!" and "You just have a case of
the nerves." Wishing the symptoms away does not work -- but there are
treatments that can help.
Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are
not signs of a character flaw. Most importantly, feeling anxious is not
your fault. It is a serious mood disorder, which affects a person's
ability to function in every day activities. It affects one's work,
one's family, and one's social life.
Today, much more is known about the causes and treatment of this
mental health problem. We know that there are biological and
psychological components to every anxiety disorder and that the best
form of treatment is a combination of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy
interventions. Depending upon the severity of the anxiety, medication
is used in combination with psychotherapy. Contrary to the popular
misconceptions about anxiety disorders today, it is not a purely
biochemical or medical disorder.
There are as many potential causes of anxiety disorders as there are
people who suffer from them. Family history and genetics play a part in
the greater likelihood of someone getting an anxiety disorder in their
lifetime. Increased stress and inadequate coping mechanisms to deal with
that stress may also contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety symptoms can result
from such a variety of factors including having had a traumatic
experience, having to face major decisions in a one's life, or having
developed a more fearful perspective on life. Anxiety caused by
medications or substance or alcohol abuse is not typically recognized as
an anxiety disorder.
We have developed the information here to act as a comprehensive
guide to help you better understand anxiety disorders and find out more
information about them on your own. Choose from among the categories at
left to begin your journey into recovery from this treatable disorder.