Get The Facts About Anxiety

About 40 million adults in the United States, over 18% of the population, will suffer from panic attacks at some point in their lives. Approximately 3 million people, or 1.75% of adults, will experience a full-blown panic attack at some time in their lives.

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is diagnosed when a person experiences excessive worry and relentless anxiety over normal situations with no rational reason for the worry and anxiety. Typically, people who suffer from anxiety constantly expect the worst situation will come to pass and are not able to quit worrying about many different aspects of their life.

Usually, the worry is unfounded or worse than it should be. For people who suffer from anxiety, the excessive worry takes over their lives and interferes with their ability to function normally in everyday life. As such, it can cause significant problems at work, school, home, and in social situations.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Not only is anxiety an emotional condition, but it can manifest itself physically as well. Some of the most prevalent symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Relentless worry
  • Problems are exasperated
  • An inability to relax
  • Irritability
  • Tight muscles
  • Headaches
  • Perspiration
  • Inability to focus
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased urgency to urinate
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Shaking
  • Jumpiness

Moreover, those who suffer from anxiety may be dealing with other anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and panic attacks, or even depression and/or alcohol or drug addictions.

What are the Causes of Anxiety?

It is unknown what definitely causes anxiety. However, there are several factors that seem to lead to the development of anxiety. These are:

1. Genetics: Several studies indicate that people who have family members with anxiety are also likely to develop anxiety disorders. It is possible that anxiety passes from one generation to the next.

2. Brain Chemistry: Research has shown that anxiety is often related to abnormal levels of specific brain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters essentially transport information to each nerve cell. If these neurotransmitters are not in balance, the information is not delivered to the nerve cells correctly. This results in the brain reading the incorrect information and responding to anxiety inappropriately.

3. Environment: There are many external factors like abuse, a loved one's death, divorce, or relocation that can trigger anxiety. In addition, anxiety can become more severe when the sufferer is under increased amounts of stress. Withdrawal from substances with addictive properties such as caffeine, drugs, and alcohol can also exacerbate anxiety.

How Many People Have Anxiety?

Statistics indicate that over any 12-month period, approximately 4 million adults in the United States are dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is more common in adults, however it can start at a very young age. Women suffer from anxiety more than men do.

How is Anxiety Diagnosed?

If someone is experiencing the symptoms of anxiety, a physician will start an examination by reviewing the patient's complete medical history, as well as undertaking a physical examination. Even though no scientific tests are available to verify an anxiety diagnosis, the physician can perform a variety of tests to rule out other physical medical condition as the reason the symptoms are occurring.

A diagnosis of anxiety is based on how long the symptoms have been present and how severe they are. Included in a diagnosis is the analysis of any interference the anxiety might be affecting the person's everyday life. At that point, the physician will decide if the symptoms are consistent with a particular anxiety disorder. Anxiety can only be diagnosed if and when the symptoms have persisted for the majority of days for a period of at least six months. The symptoms must also be getting in the way of the patient living a normal life. For instance, the patient is not able to go to school or work because of the symptoms.

What is the Prognosis of Anxiety Following Treatment?

Even though there is no cure for anxiety and the symptoms often recur following treatment, the majority of sufferers do receive significant abatement of symptoms after they are treated correctly.

Is Anxiety Preventable?

Anxiety disorders are not preventable. However, certain lifestyle changes can be made that can help alleviate the symptoms or make them less severe. Some of these changes are:

1. Reduce or eliminate foods and beverages that list caffeine as an ingredient. This includes soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate.

2. Work out more often and follow healthy eating guidelines.

3. Engage in therapy following a stressful or traumatic experience.

4. Learn and practice stress reduction exercises such as meditation or yoga.

What are the other Anxiety Disorders?

The categories of anxiety disorders, excluding GAD are;

1. Panic Disorder. This condition is characterized by panic attacks, which are periods of intense and extreme fear or psychological distress. These attacks are often debilitating and usually come about with little warning. Even though the attacks themselves are completely harmless, the symptoms can be debilitating for sufferers, often increasing levels of anxiety.

The symptoms of panic attacks can include shaking, difficulty breathing, pain or tightness in the chest, perspiration, a racing heart, an upset stomach, light-headedness, tingling in the limbs, hyperventilation, vomiting, and a feeling of a lump in the throat.

2. Phobia. Phobias are strong and persistent fears of events, objects, or specific people. The main symptom of phobias is an irrational and excessive fear of a certain subject and the avoidance of that subject. Phobias are not uncommon and typically, a diagnosis is only made if the fear is causing the sufferer to avoid situations that are vital for normal functioning.

3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, (or PTSD). This is a condition that arises due to exposure to a traumatic event. This can be a single experience or can be a series of experiences that can totally disrupt the person's ability to deal with the emotions that are related to those experiences. The symptoms of PTSD include persistent, scary thoughts that can manifest without notice, and the inability to confide in people with whom they were once close.

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, (or OCD). The symptoms of this condition include unwanted and persistent thoughts or images and the need to participate in specific rituals. The symptoms of OCD can be intermittent or can get progressively worse without treatment.



References:

1 - USA Today

2 - Anxiety and Depression Association of America

3 - Psychotherapy