How to Recognize if You Have Anxiety Disorder
In recent years, mental health has become an increasingly popular topic of study and discussion. This is largely influenced by modern technology, with studies showing that spending time on social media sites is linked to higher rates of mental health issues and other problems. The realization that spending time on our phones can have a negative impact on our mental health has been a good thing, as it has prompted discussions about mental health, raised awareness about mental health disorders, and persuaded people to prioritize taking care of their mental health.
Mental health disorders are very common, with the most common ones being anxiety disorders. An estimated 18.1% of all American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder—that’s over 40 million people! And of those 40 million people, only around 36.9% of them receive treatment for their condition. The remaining 63.1% of people who suffer from anxiety disorders don’t receive treatment. While there are a variety of factors that might influence why they don’t receive treatment, one of the main reasons is because they are unaware that they are suffering from an anxiety disorder or they do not know what to do about it.
Diagnosing an anxiety disorder can be difficult. And deciding what to do about it if you think you are suffering from an anxiety disorder can be difficult as well. While this is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed mental health professional, this guide is here to help you check to see if you have an anxiety disorder and give you some guidelines as to where you can start if you think you may have one. Again, if you are concerned about whether or not you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, it is recommended that you consult a licensed mental health professional.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The defining characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety about events that occur frequently, the intensity of which is out of proportion to the likelihood of those events happening or the impact that those events can or will have. In essence, anxiety is caused by an often irrational fear of the future. The symptoms manifest themselves in interesting ways, including:
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
- Exaggerated startle response
- Psychosomatic symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, pins and needles
- Physical symptoms: Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain
- The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning
Additionally, there are tests you can take such as the Burns Anxiety Inventory that do well to assess the levels of anxiety you have felt within a certain time frame. The answers have a numerical value which are added together to receive a total score. If you receive a high score, it is recommended that you consult a licensed medical professional to be diagnosed with and treated for anxiety.
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
If you are concerned that you have an anxiety disorder, talk to a mental health professional. They are qualified to help you receive the treatment you need to better cope with what you are suffering with. The two main treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy and medication, and many people benefit from a combination of the two. There are different options when it comes to therapy, including group therapy and one-on-one meetings with a counselor. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective, short-term treatment that helps people learn specific skills and healthy coping mechanisms to target their specific triggers.
Often, medications are used in tandem with therapy, and a lot of people find the most success when using both treatment methods together. Antidepressants generally have some mild side effects but help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can be used for an extended period of time. All medications should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider. Any side effects should be reported immediately. Never discontinue the use of these medications without supervision from your healthcare provider.
Everyone experiences periods of increased stress, and sometimes stress can feel overwhelming. It is important to learn how to manage your stress and when to seek help. When stress no longer feels manageable and symptoms of anxiety interfere with your daily living, it’s time to seek an evaluation from a licensed mental health practitioner.