Understanding Anxiety

anxietyAnxiety is an alarm system, a response to a threat or challenge. Mild anxiety creates an alert, focused state and can be beneficial.

Extreme anxiety—anxiety that is persistent, overwhelming and dominating—can be disruptive, even debilitating. Extreme anxiety affects 30 million Americans. Extreme anxiety can be successfully treated. Help should be sought when symptoms are prolonged and persistent and when the anxiety interferes with life functioning.

Untreated anxiety can lead to depression, alcohol or drug abuse, relationship problems and reduced job performance.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

· experiencing excessive fear and dread

· worrying excessively

· being restless and easily fatigued

· having difficulty concentrating

· feeling irritable or tense

· experiencing sleep difficulties

· having physical symptoms such as heart pounding or racing, trembling, or difficulty breathing

There are several types of anxiety disorders including:

General Anxiety Disorder. Individual experiences excessive anxiety and worry more days than not. Worry focused on a number of varying events or activities. Individual experiences significant distress or impairment.

Panic Disorder. Individual experiences a rapid onset of symptoms resembling a heart attack when there is not physical cause. After a panic experience, individual worries about more attacks and changes his/her behavior to avoid attacks.

Phobias. Individual experiences an excessive or unreasonable fear of a specific object or situation. Exposure to the object or situation provokes an immediate anxiety response.

Social Phobia. Individual experiences an excessive or unreasonable fear of social situation. Social situations provoke an anxiety response.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Individual experiences obsessions—recurrent, persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced as intrusive or inappropriate and cause marked anxiety and distress. These obsessions lead to compulsions—repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession in order to prevent something bad from happening.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Individual experienced or witnessed or was confronted with event(s) that involved actual or threatened death, serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of self or other. Later, they continue to re-experience the traumatic event(s) through recurrent, intrusive distressing recollections, dreams, feeling as if the trauma is reoccurring, or extreme psychological distress at exposure to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event(s). Individuals tends to avoid stimuli associated with the trauma and to numb their general responsiveness.

Anxiety disorders can be treated.  If you experience the symptoms of excessive anxiety or recognize yourself in some of the types of anxiety disorder, you may want to consult a therapist for evaluation. Anxiety disorders respond well to appropriate therapy. When necessary, there are also drugs that can be beneficial.

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