Rehab Centers for Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are mental disorders that result in fears, phobias or heightened state of nervousness related to everyday living. Many people with anxiety disorders will show signs of apprehension or fear of losing control and may even have obsessive thoughts. The most common type of anxiety disorder is OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder in which an individual will obsess and repeat certain behaviors such as closing a door, tapping or cleaning as a result of a fear that not doing so will cause physical harm.
Feeling anxious during trying situations or challenging times is a common and completely normal response. But when feelings of worry or fear become overwhelming and take over comfortable thoughts, interfering with your regular routines even when there’s little or no real reason for concern, an anxiety disorder may be to blame. Anxiety disorders affect people of all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses and lifestyles. Understanding anxiety disorders and how they impact your life may help you to learn how you can reduce the symptoms and take your life back.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
The body’s natural response to danger or perceived danger is to feel anxious or scared. This occurs when you feel like you have been threatened or when you are stressed out about a particular event that is taking place or that is planned to take place. Anxiety can arise when you have a job interview, you meet a new person, you have a test to take, you are driving in traffic or you are expected to meet certain deadlines. This normal reaction to stress is usually not excessive and does not interfere with day-to-day living unless you suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders cause anxiety to remain heightened or constant even where there are few stressors and there is not a major reason to be anxious or nervous. Anxiety that is overwhelming or that interferes with your ability to live a normal, comfortable lifestyle, is unhealthy and may require treatment. When anxiety turns from a beneficial factor that helps you to cope to an overwhelming factor that prevents you from living, treatment may be the only helpful option.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, anxiety disorders can be caused by a number of different elements including environmental, psychological, developmental and genetic factors. Scientists believe that anxiety disorders may be genetic in many ways but that certain disorders, such as PTSD, may be caused by environmental factors more so than they are caused by a genetic predisposition.
Because there are so many different types of anxiety disorders, such as OCD and PTSD as well as general anxiety and phobias, pinpointing an exact cause of anxiety is challenging even for scientists and medical professionals who devote their entire careers to understanding these disorders, how they affect people, how they can be treated and what causes them. Most studies focus more on treatment options that are available to help those with anxiety disorders rather than placing a heavy focus on the origination or cause of the disorder itself.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
When an individual experiences natural anxiety that is beneficial and not the aftermath of an anxiety related disorder, it will generally go away relatively quickly. Such anxiety may be caused by fear of public speaking or an illness. When the symptoms of fear and anxiety don’t go away on their own within a short period of time, and they persist for 6 months or more, an anxiety disorder is often to blame.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders generally revolve around feelings of fear that will simply not go away. The following symptoms of an anxiety disorder should not be overlooked:
- Feeling tense or scared often.
- Feeling constantly on edge or at a breaking point.
- Suffering from uncontrollable thoughts that interfere with healthy thought processes.
- Feeling sudden periods of heart-pounding that is accompanied by extreme fear or anxiety.
- Feeling as if danger is always lurking or looming around the corner.
- Struggling with fear that prevents you from acting normally.
- Thinking that something bad will happen if things aren’t handled in a very particular way.
- Feeling scared about things that, in your mind, you know there is no real need for fear about, but in your normal thinking you feel the need to worry.
- Feeling restless or unable to sit still, you may feel tense or jumpy.
- Feeling like you must always be on the lookout for danger or risks, even when you’re in a safe place with people you love.
- Feeling sick to your stomach, having butterflies, feeling like you can’t breath when you think about certain elements of your life.
- Feeling fatigued or tired, inability to sleep at night due to fears or anxieties.
When intense feelings of fear take over and make it near impossible for you to focus on anything else, a panic attack may be to blame. Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, often pop up suddenly without any warning or reason to negate the fear that is about to ensue. Some people suffer from panic attacks as a result of a legitimate fear or phobia such as:
- being in an elevator alone
- eating foods that they don’t believe in eating
- thinking about speaking in public
- being in a crowded place
- meeting a new person
Many anxiety attacks are not the result of a known trigger and are therefore much more difficult to control or to prepare for. When an anxiety attack or panic attacks just comes on without warning, coping with the panic can be very challenging for the individual. Fortunately, anxiety attacks, even those that come on unexpectedly, generally only last about ten minutes or so.
During the time when you are suffering from an anxiety attack, extreme terror and fear can completely take over making you feel as if you may die or completely freak out and lose all control. These symptoms will usually subside in a relatively short period of time and upon overcoming the symptoms, you will feel much better. Likewise, once the panic attack is over, many people report feeling a continued fear or anxiety that they will soon suffer another panic attack; this alone can make coping with and overcoming an attack challenging.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are generally categorized into one of six categories. Each category of anxiety disorders includes a distinct set of symptoms that are generally different from all other categories of anxiety. The various types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Anxiety Attacks or Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, careful diagnosis is necessary in order to properly diagnose an anxiety disorder. Doctors will analyze the types of anxiety disorder symptoms that are present in the patient and will identify variables such as mental illness, substance abuse, or co-occurring health conditions that may be to blame for the heightened fear and anxiety. Diagnosing anxiety disorders as well as any underlying conditions such as substance abuse or mental illness is required in order to set the patient up with proper treatment that will ensure their continued recovery and overall health.
Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Coping with anxiety using various self-guided mechanisms and ideas can be beneficial but sometimes there is still a need for help and treatment when anxiety has caused serious complications in an individual’s life. Treatment options for anxiety disorders generally includes:
- Behavioral therapy that works to help the individual change behavioral response to fear or anxiety and to recognize negative behaviors and change them out for positive ones.
- CBT which focuses on both thoughts and actions associated with the anxiety to help curb irrational beliefs and teach the individual to be stronger and more proactive against their anxiety.
- Exposure therapy which aims to expose the individual to the elements in their life that triggers the anxiety so that they can become desensitized to the anxiety and fear in a controlled environment. Exposure therapy is ideal in cases in which the cause or triggers of the anxiety have been determined.
- Medications such as antidepressants to prevent depression or other mental health instabilities or benzodiazepines which are prescribed to help the individual relax and feel more comfortable. According to HelpGuide, a Harvard Health Publication, most anxiety medications have an array of possible side effects which should be closely considered before choosing a method of treatment.