Did you know that around 40 million people in the U.S. experience anxiety disorders? That’s a staggering number, and it’s vital to understand these conditions to support ourselves and the people we care about. This blog post is written to offer an understanding of anxiety disorders, their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and coping strategies.
- Anxiety disorders are more than temporary fear or worry and can have a serious impact on daily life.
- Diagnosis & treatment involve assessing symptoms, medical history, physical exam, psychological evaluation, medication and therapy.
- Coping strategies like stress management techniques & support groups help manage anxiety in recovery. Approach conversations with care when helping loved ones struggling.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are a type of mental health disorders that cause excessive fear, worry, and physical symptoms, impacting daily life and well-being. Although occasionally feeling anxious is a normal human experience, anxiety disorders involve more than just temporary worry or fear. They can affect job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.
Examples of common types of anxiety disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about everyday matters, often accompanied by physical symptoms. People with GAD often worry about things like job duties, family health, and even small stuff like chores, car repairs, and appointments.
People who suffer from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often experience symptoms such as:
- Feeling on edge or easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Difficulties with sleeping
To manage GAD, various treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes can be useful.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder is an anxiety disorder involving a fear of social situations, leading to avoidance and extreme anxiety in social interactions. Separation anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is a different type of anxiety disorder. Some typical triggers for social anxiety disorder include being terrified of giving a speech in front of people, introducing oneself to new people, and eating or drinking in public.
Panic Disorder is marked by sudden and intense panic attacks, often mistaken for heart attacks, and can occur alongside other anxiety disorders. During a panic attack, individuals might experience a rapid heartbeat, difficulty catching their breath, and dizziness.
Panic attacks can indeed resemble heart attacks, and panic disorder usually starts between the ages of 20-24.
Causes and Risk Factors
Anxiety disorders, as recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, are complex and can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
Anxiety disorders can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. Research has indicated a genetic element to anxiety and related disorders, with some common genetic factors linking GAD to other internalizing conditions.
Studies have shown that the risk of developing an anxiety disorder is higher in individuals with a family
Traumatic life events, stress, and underlying medical conditions can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders.
Negative parenting practices, life events, and overall life circumstances, plus the physical environment of an individual can also play a role in the development of anxiety disorders.
Certain factors, such as gender and hormone fluctuations, can increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders. Women’s hormones tend to fluctuate more, and men have higher levels of testosterone, which could help with anxiety.
Physical and Mental Symptoms
Anxiety disorders manifest through a combination of physical and mental symptoms that vary depending on the specific disorder.
Let’s discuss the physical and mental symptoms associated with these conditions.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and dizziness. These symptoms are caused by the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress, which triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Anxiety can also manifest in symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, and difficulty sleeping
Mental symptoms of anxiety disorders, which are a category of mental disorders, can include excessive worry, intense fear, and feelings of impending doom. These symptoms can take a toll on a person’s daily activities, making it difficult to function effectively.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing anxiety disorders involves assessing symptoms, medical history, and conducting a physical exam and psychological evaluation. Treatment options include psychotherapy and medication.
Next, we’ll examine the process of diagnosing and treating anxiety disorders.
Diagnosing anxiety disorders involves looking at the symptoms, taking into account the medical history, and doing a physical exam and psychological evaluation.
This comprehensive approach can help uncover any physical or mental health issues that may be causing the anxiety disorder.
Treatment for anxiety disorders may include:
- Psychotherapy, or counseling, which can help deal with the emotional response to the illness and provide strategies to better understand and manage the disorder.
- Medication, which may be prescribed by a healthcare provider to help alleviate symptoms and manage the disorder.
- A combination of both psychotherapy and medication, which can provide comprehensive treatment to cure anxiety disorders.
Medications such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), which are a type of anti anxiety medications, can help manage anxiety symptoms and improve quality of life.
Coping Strategies for Managing Anxiety
Various coping strategies can help individuals manage their anxiety, including stress management techniques, exercising, and support from family, friends, or social groups.
Stress Management Options Techniques
Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and time management can help reduce anxiety levels.
Engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, limiting phone use, and practicing self-care are other effective stress management options and techniques.
Activities like yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness can help alleviate anxiety symptoms. These exercises can be beneficial in reducing stress and calming both the body and mind, as well as lessening symptoms of anxiety, like increased heart rate and muscle tension.
Joining a support group can provide a safe space to share experiences and learn from others dealing with anxiety disorders. Organizations like the Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA), NAMI, and Mental Health America offer support groups for anxiety, providing a secure and encouraging atmosphere for people to discuss their stories and gain information and help. Additionally, exploring a depression association can further enhance one’s understanding of mental health.
These organizations provide a variety of resources, including online support, in-person meetings, and talk therapy.
La Hacienda Treatment Center
Substance abuse and addiction can hide a persons feelings of anxiousness. Once the alcohol or drugs are removed, specific phobias, mental health conditions, and traumatic events can begin to cause intense anxiety.
Facing substance abuse or addiction is a start. Every patient at La Hacienda is assessed by both medical doctors and clinicians. It is often hard to diagnose anxiety disorders until a person is completely cleared from all mood altering chemicals.
In the detoxification portion of our treatment we often see a person having trouble sleeping, and some have physical health conditions caused from their substance abuse and addiction.
Once the drugs and alcohol are out of a patients system, if they feel anxious we want them to continue seeing the medical staff especially if the symptoms are worse than before.
Discussion of how the symptoms interfere with living becomes a part of the individualized treatment plan. All of our licensed clinical staff consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that is produced by the American Psychiatric Association. All anxiety disorders diagnosed follow the criteria laid out in the DSM-5.
Social anxiety disorder (once called social phobia) and persistent fear are general risk factors when coming down from substance abuse and addiction. The goal of living sober includes learning how to reduce anxiety, manage stress and relieve symptoms discomfort.
Anxiety in Recovery
Managing anxiety during recovery from addiction is crucial, as it can hinder progress and increase the risk of relapse.
The causes of anxiety in recovery and strategies to manage it effectively can include genetic and environmental factors as well as a separation anxiety disorder from not drinking or using.
Causes of Anxiety in Recovery
Anxiety in recovery can also be caused by post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) and the challenges of adjusting to a new sober lifestyle.
PAWS is a set of symptoms that come up after someone stops using drugs or alcohol and can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and cravings.
Coping Strategies in Recovery
Implementing coping strategies such as exercise, seeking professional help, and practicing stress reduction techniques can help manage anxiety during recovery.
These strategies can be beneficial in overcoming the challenges of adjusting to being sober and participating in support groups.
Supporting a Loved One
Offering emotional support, understanding, and encouragement can help a loved one feel more comfortable seeking help and implementing coping strategies.
Encouraging them to stay sober, seek treatment and supporting them even when they are self consciousness aides in reducing ongoing worry that their new found recovery is not a burden to the ones they love.
By understanding the why and how of the anxiousness felt by our loved ones, we can help them lead happier, healthier lives. Managing anxiety by using coping strategies in daily life and during recovery from addiction is possible.
Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there’s always hope for a brighter future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are 5 symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, including feeling nervous or tense, having a sense of impending danger, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, and difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms can include digestive issues, sleeplessness, panic, fear, and social withdrawal.
What are 3 coping strategies for anxiety?
Coping strategies for anxiety include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing relaxation techniques such as muscle relaxation and breathing exercises, changing thought patterns, talking to someone you trust, managing worries, looking after physical health, using complementary and alternative therapies, and keeping a diary.
How do I deal with early sobriety anxiety?
Dealing with early sobriety anxiety can be done through meditation, yoga, talking to someone like a friend or sponsor, working the 12 Steps, grounding exercises, meeting attendance, and healthy distractions. Take some time to try each of these methods and find what works best for you.
What are the most common types of anxiety disorders?
Living with Anxiety Disorders can be very challenging, and the most common types are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder.
What are the main causes of anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors, making it difficult to pinpoint any one specific cause.