It is normal to feel a little anxious from time to time. It is a feeling that is more common to some than it is to others, but it’s something that we have all felt during times of difficultly. It’s something you might have felt on your first day of school, your first job interview, the birth of your first child or your first day on a new job.
However, there is a form of anxiety that is less common. When anxiety begins to present itself for long periods of time and when it doesn’t have an immediately obvious cause, it may be the result of an anxiety disorder. These come in several different forms, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, but they are all strongly characterized by feelings of anxiety that consume the sufferer and refuse to go away.
Anxiety Disorder Definition
Anxiety is by far the most common of any mental health disorder. However, there is a big difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder, as mentioned above. It is said that the vast majority of us will experience a case of moderate to severe anxiety over the course of a year, and that it will affect all of us at some point in our lifetime.
Anxiety disorders are said to affect 25% of us over the course of our lives. This is a small figure by comparison. But when you compare it to the 2.5% that will suffer from bipolar disorder and the 18% that will suffer from depression, it’s quite high. This is still a debilitating mental illness, and it means that as many as 75 million Americans are suffering with the issues that it causes over the course of their lifetime, with around 30 million suffering from it every single year.
In generations past, anxiety was seen as being weak. It was something that you just had to “man-up” and get over. Thankfully, that attitude no longer remains and more and more people are now getting the help they need. However, there is still such a prevailing attitude in certain families and even in certain locations. As a result, there are many anxiety sufferers out there who feel too ashamed to get help, ignoring their problems and avoiding getting the help they need because they don’t want anyone to know about it.
This is a great shame, but for anyone going through this, just remember that many of the people around you, the same people you’re worried about telling, will go through the same thing. Also, you should never be ashamed to admit when you have a problem. Because only then can you get the help you need—only then can you kick that problem out of your life. If anything, the people who admit their problems and then face them, are the bravest people of all.
The Signs Of Anxiety Disorders: Symptoms
If you suspect that you or a loved one has an anxiety disorder then there are a few simple things you can do to find out for certain. After that, you can begin your treatment by visiting an anxiety disorder counselor, a rehab clinic or another expert.
The signs that you need to look out for have been listed below. Just bear in mind that many of these symptoms will ring true for specific moments in your life, even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder.
The trick is not to think about you when you are at your worst or when you were in a situation of high stress and high anxiety, but to focus on the everyday you. Someone without an anxiety disorder will relate to many of these symptoms when they were placed in anxious situations, but only someone with an anxiety disorder will be able to relate to them during moments of relative calm, moments when there is no immediate reason to be worried or anxious.
- Worried about imminent danger
- Difficultly sleeping
- Drastic changes in weight
- Constantly replaying actions and conversations in head and feeling embarrassed about them
- Avoiding everyday situations out of fear of something terrible happening
- Panic attacks (sweaty palms, chest pains, shortness of breath, heart palpitations)
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
The causes of many mental health disorders are only just beginning to be understood. With anxiety disorders, it is now thought that genetics and family history play a significant role, more than ever believed before. So, if your family has a history of anxiety problems, then the chances that you will follow suit increase significantly.
This is not just about brain chemistry and genetic make-up. It may also be the result of learned behavior. If a child has a confident parent then they will learn from them, they will become like them and they will gain confidence in themselves as they age. On the other hand, if they have an anxious and timid parent then they will likely become an anxious and timid person as well.
Anxiety disorders can also be caused by past trauma. This can come in the form of sexual abuse, substance abuse or even an abusive relationship. The patient may feel withdrawn. They may feel like the world is out to get them, that danger awaits around every corner. They feel that because it’s what they are used to.
People who spent a lot of time indoors when they were younger, shying away from the world and making few friends, also run the risk of developing anxiety problems as they age. However, they can also present in adults who are outgoing and used to be confident. In such cases, it can be triggered by everything from bereavement, stress and depression, to hormonal problems and drug abuse.
Anxiety disorder counselors will look to determine the cause of the problem before they recommend a treatment. This is not always essential, but it can help them to find the problem and to adapt their treatment accordingly.
Treatment: Anxiety Disorder Counselors Near Me
Looking for anxiety disorder counselors nearby? Just make sure you take your time and that you research each potential specialist or clinic thoroughly. There are a number of clinics out there that offer help for people with anxiety disorders. They are springing up throughout the US in order to take advantage of the fact that there are more diagnoses of mental illnesses and patients are more open to getting treatment for them.
However, not all counselors are right for you. Many of them don’t have the qualifications you need, which means they are limited in the treatments they can offer. Some of them just don’t have any experience working with people who have bipolar disorder. That’s why it is important to take your time; to not rush into this decision; to make sure that the people you choose are a good fit for your needs.
Why Do Anxiety Disorders And Substance Abuse Occur Together?
Anxiety disorders are very difficult to treat, and effective cures are occasionally worse than the disease. The first course of action for a doctor is often to prescribe a short course of benzodiazepines. These drugs are highly addictive so they are prescribed for just two or three weeks at a time. But to a patient with an anxiety disorder, this is just not enough. If they find a pill that takes all of their worries away, then they will keep on taking it.
Benzodiazepines like valium/diazepam work fine for short term anxiety and are great at curing stress, but they lead to far more problems in those with long-term anxiety disorders. This is a problem faced by many with co-occurring substance abuse and anxiety disorders. But it’s not the only one. Many sufferers also choose to self-medicate with recreational drugs. And when they find something that works, they keep using it.
They may take opiates because it numbs the constant stress and panic that they feel from day to day. They may drink alcohol because it’s the only way they can feel “normal” in social situations, and they may use stimulants to get rid of the physical and mental fatigue. Drugs and alcohol can often be seen as a last resort for someone with an anxiety disorder, but it’s one that inevitably leads to more problems.
From the perspective of a counsellor or addiction psychiatrist, this causes two major problems. Firstly, the patient is more prone to the extremes of their condition, as their emotions and their reactions are heightened. Secondly, substance abuse can mask underlying conditions, which makes it difficult to diagnose their problems.