Stressful situations are inevitable in this lifetime. We all encounter them, and usually far more than just once or twice — and we all react a little differently to these stressors.
It’s normal to experience some level of anxiety in these circumstances, such as nervousness, fear, agitation or worry, as anxiety is a natural biological reaction. For those with an anxiety disorder, though, these emotions don’t simply dissipate when the situation is over.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. It’s estimated that over 30 percent of adults in this country will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
When left unaddressed, anxiety can cause disturbances in not only your mental health but your life as a whole. This includes educational or professional productivity, relationships and overall functionality as a person and in society.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the five most common forms of anxiety, the main causes of anxiety as well as how anxiety can affect you and your life on a daily basis.
Understanding anxiety disorders
Experiencing anxiety is different from struggling with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a normal human emotion that is natural to experience in stressful circumstances; anxiety disorders persist after the stressful situation has subsided and generally do not go away on their own.
An anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic, frequent or obsessive anxiousness that directly interferes with a person’s ability to function. Anxiety disorders can lead to dysfunction in home life, work, school, and relationships, as well as other responsibilities and activities.
There are different forms of anxiety disorders that can be induced in a variety of ways, but each of them can take a significant toll on your mental health and quality of life when left untreated.
The different types of anxiety
There are more than just a few different types of anxiety, so we’re going to focus on the five anxiety disorders that people most commonly experience.
These include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder and Phobias.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): manifests as frequent excessive worry that’s usually the result of deep overthinking or obsessing about past or future events. To be diagnosed with GAD, you typically must experience symptoms on a near-daily basis for six consecutive months.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): a form of anxiety that causes a person to experience obsessive thoughts and behaviors. People with OCD commonly engage in behaviors such as compulsive cleaning, checking or counting that bring temporary relief but ultimately work to fuel their compulsions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a form of anxiety that’s directly related to or stemming from a past traumatic experience. Though PTSD can be temporary, it most often surfaces as a long-term condition whose behavioral and lifestyle disturbances can continue to emerge for years. Professional assistance is typically required to manage or heal from this disorder.
Panic Disorder: characterized by frequent, unexpected panic attacks that generally last less than 20 minutes, but can sometimes last longer depending on the severity of the trigger. These attacks often happen without warning and cause symptoms such as chest pain, shaking, difficulty breathing or seeing and dizziness to occur.
Phobias: defined as the excessive and persistent fear of an activity, situation or object that may or may not be practical or truly harmful in reality. People with phobias are not always aware that their fear is irrational and often feel as if the fear is impossible to overcome, which can lead to an exacerbation of the disorder. Common phobias include acrophobia (fear of heights), trypanophobia (fear of needles) and social phobia (fear of social situations and interactions).
The main causes of anxiety
There is no one cause (or even two) causes of anxiety, as anxiety is an individualized experience, brought on by situations, people or other triggers that are unique to you alone.
Some of the most common causes of anxiety are:
Unhealed traumatic experiences
Life stressors (such as a job change or the development of an illness)
The presence of other mental health conditions or disorders
Excessive drug and/or alcohol use
Whether a person’s anxiety is the result of one or multiple causes, the symptoms that typically manifest from an anxiety disorder are excessive fear and worrying, overthinking and dwelling on previous situations or conversations, insomnia, irritability, panic and difficulty breathing.
It’s important to seek professional help when an anxiety disorder is suspected to be present. When left untreated, anxiety disorders can develop into additional mental health illnesses that further sabotage your overall quality of life.
Take a step toward healing today
Pyramid Healthcare is a leading provider of behavioral healthcare that specializes in client-focused treatment. Multifaceted programs are offered to adults who are seeking professional help for substance abuse, mental health conditions and eating disorders.
Though these programs are offered across a variety of states, each Pyramid team shares in the commitment of providing clients with expert-level care that will help them enact lasting, positive change in their lives. We’re here to help you from admissions all the way through recovery.