Statistics indicate that less than 40% of individuals seek treatment. Associated stigma is likely a major cause of this, as people may be embarrassed to ask for help. Around 40 million people in America experience anxiety disorder every year. There are six main kinds: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Anxiety disorders generally develop due to a combination of factors—it’s not just “all in the head.” Anxiety disorders are different from the regular anxiety that every person experiences on occasion. For a person living with an anxiety disorder, their extreme anxiety is caused by a combination of factors—including genetics, personality/temperament, life events, and brain chemistry and structure.
While an anxiety attack or panic attack is a common feature of anxiety disorders, it’s not the only one. A person is diagnosable when their symptoms begin to affect their ability to function in everyday life and impair their interpersonal relationships—with or without anxiety attacks.
Anxiety Signs and Symptoms
Typical signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder include rapid heart rate, nausea, lightheadedness, sweating, chest pain, respiratory difficulty, muscle tension, difficulty falling asleep, and feeling on edge or nervous. These occur in response to specific triggering situations.
Anxiety disorder treatment requires a comprehensive approach—not just a “quick fix” with medication. Anxiety therapy is generally the most effective when it is individualized and involves multiple modalities including medication, therapy, lifestyle modifications, and individual/peer/family support.