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Most people worry or feel anxiety about major life transitions, health concerns, finances or family conflict. Although it’s natural to feel anxiety occasionally in response to stressors, feeling anxious all the time or anxiety that worsens over time and interferes with your ability to function in your daily life may indicate an anxiety disorder that requires professional treatment.

Here are some quick facts about anxiety disorders:

  • According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18.1% of people in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder every year
  • The World Health Organization stated that 1 in 13 people worldwide have an anxiety disorder
  • The National Institutes of Health reported that approximately 31% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime
  • Anxiety disorders tend to be more prevalent among women than men
  • The 2019 National Health Interview Survey found that the percentage of adults reporting anxiety was highest among those aged 18-29

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions. Both genetic and environmental factors as well as brain chemistry contribute to the development an anxiety disorder.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with unique risk factors and symptoms.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Excessive, usually irrational worry
  • Inability to control worrying thoughts
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Difficulties falling or staying asleep
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating

While these are common symptoms of normal anxiety, individuals who suffer from GAD will experience unwarranted worry that interferes with their life, work and relationships.

Panic disorder

A panic attack is an episode of intense fear that can come on suddenly and trigger physical reactions despite a lack of real danger or cause. It’s possible to experience panic attacks without having an anxiety disorder.

However, people living with panic disorder experience panic attacks on a regular basis. In severe cases, individuals may have panic attacks on an almost daily basis. In addition, they will often experience anxiety about suffering from another attack.

Panic disorder signs and symptoms

Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • A “lump” in the throat or choking sensation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking, trembling or chills
  • Cold sweats
  • Intense feelings of dread or fear

As panic attacks can be unpredictable, individuals who regularly experience panic attacks may fear having another one, leading to a vicious cycle.

Social anxiety disorder

Individuals with social anxiety disorder fear embarrassment, negative judgment or rejection in social interactions. This can interfere with the ability to connect with others, form and maintain relationships or have a healthy social life.

Social anxiety symptoms

Signs of social anxiety disorder are as follows:

  • Excessive worry surrounding social situations even days or weeks before plans to socialize
  • Intense fear of embarrassment in front of other people
  • Rapid heart rate, sweating, chills and/or dizziness in social situations
  • Difficulty speaking or asking questions
  • Nausea or digestive upset

In social anxiety disorder, feelings of dread begin days or weeks before a planned social event. Because of this, someone with social anxiety will often avoid talking with others, meeting new people or attending social events.

Call (724) 268-4858 or contact us online today to learn more about how Silvermist can help you on your journey to a satisfying, healthy life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Because both are based in fear, anxiety and trauma disorders have significant overlap.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after an individual experiences a traumatic event, such as abuse, a car accident or combat during war.

Not everyone who experiences trauma goes on to develop PTSD. However, when a person’s fight-or-flight anxiety response persists for more than a month after a traumatic event, this might indicate that they need professional treatment.

PTSD symptoms

  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the trauma
  • Intrusive thoughts or memories related to the trauma
  • Avoidance of people or situations that remind you of the trauma
  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of fear and anxiety
  • Feeling “on edge”
  • Guilt, negative beliefs about yourself or other signs of moral injury

When these symptoms interfere with your ability to function in your daily life, it’s time to seek professional help. Additionally, PTSD may co-occur with panic attacks, other anxiety disorders or depression.

Learn more about trauma disorders here.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often experience compulsions, in which they feel compelled to complete certain rituals repeatedly. For example, they might check to see whether they turned off the stove a specific number of times or wash their hands repeatedly.

Another feature of OCD might be obsessive thoughts that may or may not be connected to their compulsions. Individuals with OCD can experience either compulsions or obsessive thoughts only or a combination of both.

Examples of obsessions and compulsions in OCD

Obsessive thoughts in OCD might include:

  • An irrational need for symmetry, cleanliness or order
  • Intrusive, unwanted and disturbing thoughts or mental images
  • Fear of contamination or germs
  • Intense feelings of stress when objects are not orderly

The following are examples of compulsions in OCD:

  • Checking stoves or locks repeatedly
  • Cleaning objects or washing hands over and over
  • Counting, organizing or arranging items to be equal or avoid certain numbers
  • Hoarding items in preparation for or to prevent something bad from happening
  • Touching or tapping an item a specific number of times before or after use

While these are common examples of obsessions and compulsions seen with OCD, the condition can look different from person to person. Obsessions and compulsions usually stem from underlying anxieties such as an irrational fear of illness or harm.

In general, anxiety disorders may co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as depression, eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Comprehensive, evidence-based residential treatment for anxiety

If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder, help is available. Silvermist’s Primary Psychiatric Program provides comprehensive mental health treatment to clients struggling with anxiety disorders as well as trauma disorders, depression and mood disorders and eating disorders.

Our small, family-focused residential program enables licensed staff to spend ample time with each client to best understand their expectations, needs and goals in order to create an individualized treatment plan. Through a diverse range of treatment approaches, clients can learn, experience and absorb new insights for long-term success in their next level of care and beyond. By focusing on the whole person rather than addressing one specific issue, we help clients gain healthy coping tools, improve functioning in their daily lives, reduce unhelpful behaviors and symptoms and achieve a better quality of life.

Call (724) 268-4858 or contact us online today to learn more about how Silvermist can help you on your journey to a satisfying, healthy life.