Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time – the uncomfortable, apprehensive feeling that we get when we feel overwhelmed. Many things can leave us feeling anxious, meeting deadlines, a pending interview or family problems to name a few. If you are struggling with anxiety however, you know that it involves more than just occasional feelings of fear or worry.
People who struggle with anxiety disorders experience ongoing anxiety that seems to get worse over time. It can feel like a cloud of “heaviness.” You may avoid certain situations because they make you feel uncomfortable or tense. You stay away from friends because you think they are tired of hearing about your anxiety. You wake up in the middle of the night with feelings of dread, panic or worry. You feel as though you just can’t get over these feelings. They feel excessive and you just can’t control them. You feel like they are controlling your life.
What’s important to know about anxiety is that it affects your whole being: psychologically, physiologically, and physically. Anxiety is often experienced as:
- excessive worry
- sleep disturbance
A person suffering from anxiety may feel physical symptoms like heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure, sweaty palms, trembling, nausea, chest pain or muscle tension. You may even feel like you could be having a heart attack or dying. You may feel like you are losing control. When you have an anxiety disorder the symptoms make it difficult to function normally and they get in the way of normal activities. You may feel “stuck,” “frozen,” or “paralyzed.”
The Most Common Mental Health Issue in America
A variety of anxiety disorders exist and collectively they are considered one of the most common reasons people seek treatment, as well as the most common mental health disorders. You are not alone. According to the National Health Institute for Mental Health, 18.1% of the adult population in the United States suffers from an anxiety disorder. Approximately 23% of these cases are classified as “severe.” Furthermore women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime with the average age of onset for an anxiety disorder is 11 years old. Although the average age is early adolescence anxiety disorders can occur at any age. A wide variety of anxiety disorders exist. The more common anxiety disorders include General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Phobia.
Causes and Treatment
Causes of anxiety can be environmental, genetic, biological, cumulative stress over time, trauma, or a negative childhood environment. The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. It may be one of these factors or may be a combination. The good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable and the success rate is high.
The most common and effective treatment for anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT), medication or a combination of these two treatments. CBT focuses on reducing anxiety by eliminating beliefs and behaviors that help maintain the anxiety. With the right treatment, many people who struggle with anxiety can get relief, learn skills to manage their anxiety and live normal and fulfilling lives. If you feel like you may be struggling with anxiety and it is becoming overwhelming the next step would be to contact Dr. Bisignano at her Palos Verdes office for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.• • •