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What is Anxiety

People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) cannot stop themselves from worrying constantly about common situations. They worry about things like work, health, family, and money, but can literally worry about anything. While most people feel anxious at times, people with GAD feel overwhelmed by their anxiety. Living with constant worry becomes a distraction to the point where you cannot live a normal life because of your thoughts and feelings. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders are not uncommon, below are some statistics for Adult U.S. Population:

  • Specific Phobia: 8% – 12%
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: 7%
  • Panic Disorder (also known as Panic Attacks) : 2% – 3%
  • Agoraphobia: 1% – 2.9% in Adolescents and Adults
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: 2%
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: 0.9% – 1.9%
  • Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders.

Panic Attacks

When a panic attack happens, it happens quickly. These are acute events, meaning they do not last long as anxiety in GAD does. A panic attack involves powerful physical symptoms as well, including increased heart rate, excessive perspiration, and labored breathing. Panic attacks can happen in someone with GAD, but they can also occur in individuals with no other anxiety issue.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

In OCD, the patient’s anxiety causes them to fixate on things others hardly ever think about. It is characterized by obsessive thinking, ritual behavior, and fears that something bad will happen if certain tasks are not executed. Patients with OCD can fixate on anything, from germs to how they leave their home each day.


Agoraphobia is not a fear of being outside, as many think, but rather a fear of getting stuck in a situation in which you have no control. There are many common misconceptions around Agoraphobia, for example people with Agoraphobia can’t get better, when in reality it’s something that can be treated and cured.

Patients with agoraphobia often obsessively avoid the situations that triggers them. This can be anything from waiting in a crowded line to taking public transportation. If patients try to confront these triggers, they can have panic attacks.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense or prolonged fear of being away from someone. While the condition is often associated with children, it can occur in people of all ages.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can vary widely among people with GAD. You may exhibit some or many of the following symptoms:

  • An inability to stop worrying
  • Feeling tired during the day
  • An overwhelming sense of dread
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Feeling on-edge or jittery
  • Muscle soreness or tension
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Digestive problems, including nausea and irritable bowels
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Indecisiveness or confusion
  • An accelerated heart rate
  • Being easily startled

Treatment for Anxiety Disorder

Therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and Mental Health Professionals can provide Anxiety Disorder Treatment in several ways. A patient may need therapy, Anxiety Medication Management, or a combination of both to start feeling better. Psychotherapy treatments for GAD include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, patients learn to respond to triggers differently to reduce anxiety levels. Mental health professionals give patients specific tools designed to guide them through stressful situations.

Diagnosing Anxiety Disorders

While talking about symptoms can help people understand what they may be experiencing, it is important to note that only a trained mental health professional can diagnose GAD. To be diagnosed with GAD someone will have displayed symptoms for about six months and have anxiety more days than not during that time. The six-month timeline exists to ensure that people do not receive anxiety diagnoses when what they are experiencing are acute problems or other mental health conditions.

Lifestyle and Environmental Causes of Anxiety Disorder

Chronically stressful situations in a person’s life can cause them to develop GAD. Some examples of lifestyle and environmental factors that can contribute to the development of GAD include:

  • A high-stress job
  • Troubled or abusive relationships
  • Homelessness
  • Financial problems
  • Too little sleep
  • Too many responsibilities
  • Unstable home life

Someone may have several or none of these factors and develop GAD.

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