Anxiety describes as a feeling of fear or apprehension about what might happen or has already occurred. Sometimes anxiety is accompanied by uncomfortable physical feelings like nausea, rapid heart rate and/ or shortness of breath.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses characterized by excessive worry, fear, and stress that ultimately cause an individual to avoid situations that trigger or worsen symptoms. They’re caused by a mix of factors like genes, other mental health problems (such as depression), stressful life events (like bereavement) and/ or physical illness. Some cases may have no apparent cause.
Did You Know?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults. Despite the fact that anxiety is highly treatable, however, the association also notes that only 37% of people with anxiety receive treatment.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, such as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – long-lasting feelings of worry and fear about everyday things. This isn’t always related to something specific. People worry about the past and future.
- Panic disorder – when you have sudden attacks of intense terror that cause physical symptoms like fast breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations and dizziness.
- Phobias – when you suffer from an irrational fear of something that is normally not considered dangerous (like flying or small spaces).
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – strong urges to do certain rituals or habits repeatedly, for example washing your hands repeatedly. These obsessions and compulsions take up over 1 hour of a person’s day.
- Social anxiety disorder – when you become very anxious in social situations or even just about everyday interactions with people. You fear everyone is judging you. Self-esteem issues are usually contributing.
- Separation anxiety disorder –a strong fear and worry about being away from home or loved ones, for example when going to school, and this is causing problems in life functioning. This may mean that children refuse to go to school or sleep alone.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – strong feelings of fear, horror/numbness or guilt after experiencing a traumatic event. You may have nightmares about the experience and feel isolated, irritable and depressed.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Anxiety disorders can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional. With that being said, you may have an anxiety disorder if you regularly experience any of the following symptoms:
- A constant feeling of fear or worry about various activities
- Frequent fears/worries that are difficult to control
- Fearfulness of everyday things, which is not typical for your age and life experiences
- Overwhelming sense of dread and/or panic in situations that most people would feel fine in (like when you’re at a party, or when the phone rings)
- Frequent insomnia or sleeping problems due to feeling worried or on edge
- Frequent physical symptoms like a racing heart, nausea, dizziness and/or indigestion
As mentioned above, only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose an anxiety disorder. If you have an anxiety disorder that is impacting your life, consider scheduling a consultation with a Dual Board-Certified psychiatrist at Florida Family Psychiatry.
There is no single test to diagnose anxiety disorders. Instead, anxiety disorders are diagnosed after a physical exam, discussion of your medical history, a review of symptoms, and ruling out other conditions that cause similar physical symptoms. You will likely be asked to fill out a self-assessment and/or answer specific questions so that your physician can give you an accurate diagnosis.
There are different treatments for anxiety disorders, depending on the type and extent of the disorder. Most people respond positively to a combination of talk therapy and medication. Talk therapy is beneficial for determining and managing anxiety triggers. Anxiety medications can help reduce overall anxiety levels and also alleviate some of the physical symptoms of anxiety.
Guides & Workbooks:
- I’m So Stressed Out! (A guide for teens and young adults)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control
- Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms
- Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: When Unwanted Thoughts or Repetitive Behaviors Take Over
- Generalized anxiety disorder – self-care
- Anxiety in Children – A Quick Guide
Books for Parents:
- Helping your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents | Audiobook
- Help for Worried Kids: How your child can conquer anxiety and fear
- Parenting your Anxious Child with Mindfulness and Acceptance: A Powerful New Approach to Overcoming Fear, Panic, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
- Helping Your Child with Selective Mutism: Practical Steps to Overcome a Fear of Speaking
- Good Friends are Hard to Find
- The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends
Books for children:
- Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
- Mindfulness Workbook for Kids: 60+ Activities to Focus, Stay Calm, and Make Good Choices
- Social Skills Activities for Kids: 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social Rules
- Teach Your Dragon to Make Friends: A Dragon Book To Teach Kids How To Make New Friends.
- Wemberly Worried
- Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children’s Book about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and its Treatment
- First Day Jitters | Audiobook
- I Don’t Know Why…I Guess I’m Shy: A Story About Taming Imaginary Fears
Some of the contents of this Florida Family Psychiatry (FFP) webpage were sourced from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and their affiliates. The content on this page should be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. FFP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
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