Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults. Anxiety disorders take many forms, and can often appear alongside other mental illnesses, like depression.
What does anxiety look like?
The common types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
GAD is characterized by an extreme worry about something (family, finances, health, etc.) even when there is little or no reason to worry about it. For persons with GAD, worries get in the way of everyday living.
Common symptoms of GAD include:
Worrying very much about everyday things
Trouble controlling worries
Awareness that your level of worry is more than what’s considered normal
People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes or more. These panic attacks can occur at any time, and are characterized by a fear of disaster or losing control when there is no real danger. Panic attacks can also include physical symptoms, and can even feel like having a heart attack.
Symptoms of panic disorder include:
Sudden and repeated attacks of fear
Feeling of being out of control during a panic attack
Intense worry about when the next panic attack will occur
Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have happened in the past
Physical symptoms during an attack: pounding or racing heart, sweating, breathing problems, weakness/dizziness and more
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
People with OCD feel an overwhelming need to check things repeatedly or have certain repeating thoughts or routines. These thoughts and rituals cause distress and can get in the way of daily life. Repeated thoughts are called obsessions, and repeated actions or rituals are called compulsions. A person with OCD cannot control these obsessions and compulsions. OCD usually starts in childhood or the teens, and symptoms may come and go or get better or worse at different times.
Signs and symptoms of OCD include:
Repeated thoughts or images: These may vary widely, from fear of germs and dirt to thoughts of violence.
Doing the same rituals over and over, such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, keeping unneeded items or doing the same steps over and over
Inability to control unwanted thoughts and behaviors
Spending at least one hour a day on thoughts and rituals, interfering with daily life
Social anxiety is a strong fear of being judged by others and being embarrassed. Social anxiety is much more than just being a little anxious or worried—the fear can get in the way of doing everyday things, like going to work. People with social anxiety may worry about social situations for weeks in advance and cannot control their fear.
Symptoms of social anxiety include:
Worry about being with other people
Having a hard time talking to others, even when you want to
Feeling very self-conscious and embarrassed in front of others
Fear of other people judging you
Avoidance of places where there are other people
Difficulty making and keeping friends
Physical symptoms around others: blushing, sweating, trembling, feeling nauseated
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
PTSD develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event. While it’s natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic event, a person with PTSD continues to experience problems for a long time, and they will often feel afraid or stressed, even when they are not in danger. PTSD diagnosis is complex and, in adults, requires the presence of multiple symptoms for at least a month.
PTSD symptoms may include:
Re-experiencing or reliving the trauma over and over in flashbacks, dreams or thoughts
Avoiding places, people or things that remind you of the trauma
Cognitive and mood symptoms, such as trouble remembering features of the traumatic event, negative feelings about yourself or feelings of guilt
How Crosswinds can help
The complicated variety of anxiety disorders requires a wide range of treatment options. Crosswinds clinicians work with clients through a number of methods, such as cognitive therapy, which helps people identify, challenge and neutralize their troubling thoughts. Behavioral therapy, including exposure therapy, is another useful approach we use to help people confront their fears and engage in activities they have been avoiding. Some clients are also helped by learning relaxation and meditation techniques to help calm their anxieties. Medication can also be useful in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and Crosswinds may recommend clients work with a medical doctor to include medication in their treatment plan.
Anxiety disorders rob many people of the daily joys of living. At Crosswinds, we are committed to helping our clients manage anxiety so they can return to the full and active life God has intended for them.
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, contact Crosswinds to learn how we can help.