This page focuses on the general definition, types and symptoms of anxiety. The following information is borrowed from the esperanza Website. Please to there for even more information.
Anxiety Facts: Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder.
Who is affected by anxiety? Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older in a given year. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event, anxiety disorders last at least six months and can get worse if not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse. When mental illnesses occur with substance abuse, sufferers are going to need treatment at dual-diagnosis treatment centers.
What are the types of anxiety disorders?
•Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
•Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
•Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms.
•Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.
•Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations.
Signs and symptoms: All the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread, but each disorder has different symptoms:
GAD: worries accompanied by physical symptoms especially fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, and hot flashes.
OCD: persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. People with this disorder may be obsessed with germs or dirt, and wash their hands over and over.
Panic disorder: panic attacksâ€”sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness.
PTSD: persistent frightening thoughts and memories of a terrifying ordeal. Emotional numbness, sleep problems, feelings of detachment and a tendency to be easily startled.
Social Phobia: a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated. Fear may be so severe that it interferes with ordinary activities. Physical symptoms may include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking.
Treatment: Anxiety disorders are generally treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Treatment depends on the problem and the person's preference. Sometimes alcoholism, depression, or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until those conditions are brought under control.
Where to get help: Talk to someone you trust with experience in mental health - for example, a doctor, nurse, social worker, or religious counselor. Ask their advice on where to seek treatment.
Another great reasource is the Mental Health Services Locator: www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/.
Universities have psychiatric or psychological departments that can offer many resources.
You can also check in the Yellow Pages under under "mental health," "health," "social services," "suicide prevention," "crisis intervention services," "hotlines," "hospitals," or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses.
If you are thinking about suicide, get help immediately. Call the toll free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK.