Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. As is defined by Oxford English Dictionary, anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is atypical for an individual to experience frequent, intense, debilitating, persistent worries and/ or fears related to everyday situations, and such anxiety could be indicative of an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” Six types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): characterized by severe ongoing anxiety and exaggerated worry and tension (even when there is little or nothing to provoke it) that interferes with daily activities.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): characterized by intrusive, unreasonable thoughts and/ or fears (obsessions) that commonly lead to compulsive, repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
- Panic disorder: characterized by the sudden onset of recurring panic attacks that occur spontaneously and without cause.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): characterized by symptoms of avoidance and nervous system arousal after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): characterized by severe feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity in social settings.
- Separation anxiety disorder: characterized by an exaggeration of otherwise developmentally normal anxiety manifested by excessive concern, worry, and even dread of the real or anticipated separation from an attachment figure.
The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine anxiety disorders affect up to 18% of the population, making it the most common mental health condition in the United States.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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