What is an Anxiety Disorder?
“Anxiety disorder” is a term that can refer to any of a number of fears or anxiety disorders that are identified as being pathological and outside the norm. Generally, anxiety disorders are categorized into one of two groups: those which exhibit episodic symptoms and those which exhibit continuous symptoms.
A wide range of anxiety disorders are currently recognized by today’s psychiatry field. If you or someone you love shows symptoms of an anxiety disorder, you are not alone. Recent studies have shown that nearly 20% of all Americans suffer from one or more forms of anxiety disorders.
The term “anxiety attack” is often used to describe moments of peaked worry, extreme fret, feelings of being completely overwhelmed, excessive mental “tension” or feeling “on edge,” feelings of morbid dread, apprehension, and severe panic. Specifically, clinical anxiety is often characterized by persistent or heightened fear in situations in which the average person would not feel afraid.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety can be used to describe four primary types of feelings a person may experience: dissociative anxiety, physical tension, mental apprehension, and physical symptoms.
There are three main disorders that branch from anxiety disorder: panic disorder, phobic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Each disorder will manifest a separate set of symptoms and, accordingly, the treatments for each disorder will also be unique.
Panic disorder causes an individual to experience momentary attacks of extreme worry or dread. Panic attacks such as these can manifest as discomfort or fear that occur suddenly and rise to a peak within less than 10 minutes. The attacks can then last for hours.
Phobias are considered to be the largest class of anxiety disorders. Phobia disorders are triggered by a particular situation or stimulus. This type of anxiety can be linked to many fears including those of danger, catastrophe, failure, embarrassment, humiliation, social interaction, imperfection, death, sickness, loss, non-acceptance, relationship problems, poverty, crowds, and essentially any other possible fear or phobia. Even many seemingly normal fears may become extreme and eventually develop into an anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a type of prolonged anxiety that is not correlated with any specific situation or object. Persistent worry and fear concerning everyday issues is a common experience among those who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
The causes of an anxiety disorder vary widely, and can be rooted in biological, experiential, mental or physical conditions – or some combination thereof. In many cases, the cause of the disorder can be completely unknown – although the cause can sometimes be discovered through professional diagnosis and therapy treatments. Fear, stress and even physical activity can trigger anxiety.
Researchers say that there is some evidence that generalized anxiety disorder may be genetic, and that existing anxiety for other causes is also intensified by stress. Studies also show that anxiety disorders can be caused by medical conditions and substance abuse issues. The fear of panic attacks themselves can increase and even produce anxiety.
What are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety disorders can have one or more of a range of symptoms, such as: difficulty breathing, shaking, trembling, mental confusion, nausea, and dizziness. Phobic disorders are anxiety disorders that are triggered by a particular situation or stimulus.
More than 10% of the entire world population suffers from some form of phobic disorder. Those who suffer from these conditions anticipate frightening consequences from coming into contact with the object of their fear.