Racing heart, sweaty palms, shortness of breath…these are all signs of anxiety. Anxiety impacts about 40 million adults in the United States every day, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). And while anxiety disorders respond well to treatment, only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety get the treatment they need.
If you or someone you love is living with any type of anxiety disorder, there is help and successfully managing anxiety is possible.
We all get ‘nervous’ or ‘anxious’ from time to time. Before an important meeting at work or interview for a new job, before a big exam at school, on a first date, going somewhere new, etc. However, when these feelings of nervousness and unease last and occur more often than not, an anxiety disorder may be present.
The term ‘anxiety’ is used frequently to describe these feelings of restlessness, irritability, fear, and nervousness. However, there are a few different types of anxiety disorders impacting these 40 million U.S. adults who have anxiety.
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Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders impact more women than men worldwide. In fact, when it comes to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), more than twice the number of women than men are diagnosed with this sometimes debilitating mental health disorder. Depending on what source you look at, there are different types of anxiety disorders. Let’s look at some of the main types of anxiety disorders as laid out by the ADAA.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, impacts about 3.1% of the U.S. adult population which equals about 6.8 million adults. This type of anxiety disorder is characterized by ongoing feelings of worry. These nervous or worrisome feelings are persistent and last. The concern can be over anything from family and money to work and travel.The reason for worry is usually without real merit and the amount of worry seems out of proportion to those looking on from the outside. To be diagnosed with GAD, you must experience more days of anxiety or worry than days without these feelings for a period of at least six months.In addition, the sufferer must exhibit three or more of the following symptoms of anxiety disorders:
Sense of impending doom or disaster (even when there is no real reason)
Nervous, irritable, and on edge
Rapid heart rate
Fatigued, weak, or tired
Stomach issuesMost people with GAD realize their worry or anxiety is more than what the situation calls for, however, they are unable to control it or feel like they can’t control it.
- Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks. These panic attacks come out of nowhere and leave the sufferer fearing when the next one will occur. Oftentimes, the worry about when and where they will have the next one can consume their thoughts.About 6 million U.S. adults (two times as many females), experience panic disorders each year, these attacks can cause many to miss out on daily life. From missing work and doctor’s appointments to kid’s school activities and holiday get-togethers, panic disorders can disrupt a person’s life a great deal.Panic attacks are usually abrupt and intense. These attacks usually come out of nowhere and reach their highest intensity within minutes. Here are some of the symptoms of a panic attack or panic disorder:
Unmerited feelings of dying or losing control
Suddenly feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
Trembling and shaking
Feeling short of breath or feelings of choking
Heart palpitations, pounding or racing heart
Sweating excessivelyLiving with a panic disorder can rob the sufferer of enjoying life. For many, they may feel like there is no hope or solution for their panic disorder. However, panic disorders are highly treatable.
- Social Anxiety Disorders or Social Phobias
Social anxiety disorders (SAD) impact about 15 million adults in the nation and impact men and women equally. According to the ADAA, sufferers report living with SAD about ten years before seeking help. SAD is defined by an intense fear (or anxiety about ) being judged by others. This fear is so real and so intense it keeps many from engaging in life. However, when a situation can’t be avoided it causes extreme stress and feelings of anxiety. Symptoms can include:Increased and rapid heart rate
Racing thoughtsIn addition, those with SAD may also experience panic attacks when facing fearful or worrisome social situations.
- Phobia Disorders
These types of anxiety disorders also impact twice as many women as men. Phobia disorders are characterized by an extreme or irrational fear of specific situations or triggers. From heights and elevators to new experiences or flying, phobia disorders are present in about 19 million adults across the nation. Symptoms of phobia disorders can include:
- Excessive fear when thinking about the triggering situation or object
- Irrational fear when confronted by the triggering situation or object
- Avoiding places, situations, or objects which trigger the fear
When it comes to phobia disorders most fears center around animals, insects, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators.
Related Anxiety Disorders
There are certain disorders that are closely related to anxiety disorders. Many who suffer from GAD, SAD, or a phobia-related disorder also have one of these associated disorders. In addition, it’s important to know that anxiety and depression disorders are also closely related. Statistics show that one-half of those diagnosed with depression also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This anxiety-related disorder affects about 2.2 million American adults. Characterized by uncontrollable (obsessive) thought patterns, OCD drives the sufferer to engage in certain behaviors (compulsive) in attempts to calm the obsessive thoughts.
These obsessive, unwanted thoughts that individuals are unable—or feel unable—to control or stop. This leads to the compulsive behaviors which the sufferer thinks will ease the thoughts and worry.
Common focuses of OCD are cleanliness, aggressive behaviors, and the need for things to be equal or in symmetry. Behaviors include repeated checking and arranging, cleaning, washing, etc.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD impacts about 7.7 million U.S. adults. Women are more likely to have PTSD than men and rape is the number one cause of developing PTSD in both men and women. Sexual abuse in childhood is also a primary indicator of developing PTSD later in life.
PTSD usually occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. From a terrorist attack to the sudden and tragic death of a loved one, PTSD can be a serious condition. Those who have PTSD often experience nightmares, flashbacks, and sudden, intrusive memories of the event.
People who have PTSD may suffer for months or even years after the trauma. Most people with PTSD have experienced a natural disaster, significant accident, terrorist attack, the sudden death of a loved one, war, violent assault such as rape, or experienced other life-threatening events. Many active and former military personnel as well as first responders have PTSD.
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Many who have this anxiety-related disorder seek relief from the uncomfortable symptoms. As mentioned, the majority of people with an anxiety disorder typically wait ten years before getting professional help. For some, during this time they begin to self medicate to ease the difficult symptoms.
Alcohol as well as both illicit and prescription drugs are often used to help to alleviate or lessen symptoms of all types of anxiety disorders. And sometimes what seems like an innocent glass of wine to ‘take the edge off’ turns into a dependence. For some this dependence turns into an addiction.
In fact, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), 7.7 million adults in the U.S. have both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. This is referred to as having co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders is when a person has more than one mental health disorder at a time.
If you or your loved one fall into having co-occurring disorders, it’s imperative to seek treatment at an addiction treatment center well-versed in treating co-occurring disorders. Research shows that it’s best to treat all mental health disorders at the same time to solidify a strong foundation in recovery from both mental health disorders.
Futures Recovery Healthcare’s addiction treatment programs have been successfully treating co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and AUD, for years now. With a deep understanding of how other mental health issues (like anxiety and depression) play into an AUD or SUD, Futures’ evidence-based programs support healing and recovery from many mental health disorders.
Futures has recently added a residential mental health unit solely focused on helping individuals heal from various mental health disorders including anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.
Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Mental health disorders can be very difficult to live with on a day to day basis. From depression which seems to never end to waking up filled with dread from anxiety that just won’t stop, each day can feel like a chore to simply manage. But there is hope and help.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable and most respond well to evidence-based treatment approaches. Despite the differences in the various mental health disorders and amongst the different types of anxiety disorders, some of the same treatments work to help.
While these disorders can’t be ‘cured’, they can be managed so that the person who lives with them can go on to lead happier lives with peace of mind. Evidence-based psychotherapies, lifestyle modifications, and medications can dramatically improve the quality of life for those with anxiety disorders.
Futures offers a holistic and coordinated treatment for individuals with a primary diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder in our residential mental health program. For individuals with co-occurring disorders that include an AUD or SUD, one of Futures’ three addiction treatment programs can help.
If you or someone you love is living with an anxiety disorder, depression, mood disorder, or an addiction to alcohol or drugs, Futures can help. Contact us confidentially online or call us at 866-804-2098