• Thomas Baek

Anxiety Disorders

Updated: Feb 17

About the Author: Thomas Baek is a junior at Atholton High School. Baek is a passionate Mental Health Advocate; he is currently enrolled in AP Psychology and hopes to pursue a career in Health and Biology. Along with writing for MonuMental, he enjoys golfing, gaming, and making new friends.

Written by Thomas Baek


Is Anxiety Normal?

Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Anxiety is commonly found in the workplace, in school, and even at home. However, those diagnosed with anxiety disorders experience more than just the occasional feelings of nervousness and fear; the anxiety does not just disappear. There may even be events where the anxiety worsens over time. There are many anxiety disorders including, but not limited to Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms such as excessive worry or anxiety for long periods of time. This can be six months or more of almost day-to-day worrying. Other symptoms can be feelings of restlessness or feeling on-edge, increased fatigue, difficulty concentrating, being irritable, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and restlessness, and obviously increased anxiety. Symptoms can stem from a variety of causes, some of which are work, social interactions, as well as routine daily events.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is most widely recognized by panic attacks, a main symptom. These attacks can last for periods of several minutes where the person suffering an attack is overwhelmed with feelings of fear. They can occur because of certain stimuli, for example an unwanted situation, or can occur randomly. During a panic attack, common symptoms consist of intense sweating and shaking, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and feelings of loss of control. Because these attacks can be so staggering, many people who suffer from panic disorder will specifically avoid certain people or places to avoid triggering an attack. Although this may decrease the chances of an attack, it can increase one’s likelihood of developing agoraphobia.


Phobias

Phobias are extreme fears or aversions to certain situations or objects. People with phobias will try to avoid their fears, have irrational worries about encountering their fears, and experience intense feelings of anxiety when they encounter their fears. There are also several types of phobias: specific phobias, social phobia (commonly known as social anxiety disorder), and agoraphobia. Specific phobia is characterized by an intense fear due to a specific trigger. Examples can include tall heights, blood, vomit, etc. Social phobia is the fear of social interactions. Thoughts of embarrassment can lead people with social phobia to become anxious and feel the need to avoid social situations. Agoraphobia is the fear of two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, being in open/enclosed spaces, standing in line/being in a crowd, and/or being outside of the home alone. Those with agoraphobia tend to avoid these situations as it can induce panic attacks or panic-like symptoms.


Risk Factors

Genetic and environmental factors can affect the likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Some general risk factors are childhood shyness, childhood trauma, family history of anxiety disorders or other mental illnesses, and physical illnesses. For example thyroid problems can aggravate anxiety symptoms.

Treatment

Anxiety disorders are often treated with either psychotherapy and/or medication. Psychotherapy is a term used to describe simply talking with a psychologist or mental health adviser about one’s mental state. One specific type of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy helps people change the way they think about their fears or stressful triggers. A method commonly used in CBT is called exposure therapy, where clients confront their fears to prevent the client from feeling the need to avoid the fearful circumstances that they had not been exposed to. In terms of medication, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are the most common. These medications reduce symptoms of anxiety such as extreme fear and worry. Beta-blockers can be prescribed too, as they can aid in relieving the physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders like rapid heartbeat and shaking. However, some types of medication work better with certain anxiety disorders, so asking a medical professional first is the best way for an individual to find a treatment that works best for them.


@hocomonumental


Sources

“Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and

Human Services, July 2018,

www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxietydisorders/index.shtml

“Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Causes and Risk Factors.” Unique Mindcare, 2 June 2020,

uniquemindcare.com/generalized-anxiety-disorder-causes-and-risk-factors/

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Psychotherapy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education

and Research, 17 Mar. 2016,

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/psychotherapy/about/pac-20384616

Schmitz, Laura. “Each State's Most-Searched Phobia.” Home Security Blog, 27 Dec. 2019,

www.yourlocalsecurity.com/blog/common-fears-by-state/

Segal, Jeanne, and Melinda Smith. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” HelpGuide.org,

Sept. 2020, www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.htm

“Therapy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,

www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/therapy



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