According to the CDC, nearly 12% of Americans live with regular feelings of worry or nervousness. For some individuals, anxiety is more than feeling scared or uptight before a stressful situation. Instead, it is a constant presence that impacts every choice they make. It can cause profound distress and decrease their overall quality of life. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The causes of anxiety disorders range from environmental stress to brain chemistry. Regardless, individuals struggling with this condition deserve compassionate support from mental health professionals. Many successful recovery journeys begin at Comprehensive Wellness Centers. Treatment starts with knowledge. We want to help you understand this disorder so you can pursue the right help for yourself or someone you love. Learn more about the symptoms, causes, and triggers of anxiety to help you make the right choice about your treatment.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Different types of anxiety disorders have unique symptoms and can range in severity from mild to debilitating. We typically diagnose anxiety disorders based on the following:
- A sense of impending doom
- Overwhelming nerves
- Persistent tension with or without a source
- Sweating, trembling, and physical weakness
- Hyperventilation and/or increased heart rate
- Extreme preoccupation
- Insomnia or problems sleeping
- GI complaints
- Changing behavior to avoid anxiety triggers
Always see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, as they can sometimes be symptoms of unrelated medical conditions. In some cases, an underlying medical condition can mimic an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
We use specific names to describe anxiety disorders that meet certain behavioral criteria. For example, you may have heard of Agoraphobia or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These names give us the language necessary to discuss your unique needs and help us offer the most appropriate treatment. Think of them as tools rather than labels. Some individuals fall into more than one category.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, involves intense worry, nervousness, or preoccupation with everyday events. The fear is often disproportionate to the circumstances. Individuals with GAD may be unable to stop thinking about how things can go wrong. Many patients with GAD also experience depression or another mood disorder. It’s common to meet the criteria for GAD along with other, more specific anxiety disorders.
To qualify as a panic disorder, an individual must experience persistent panic attacks. A panic attack is an extreme somatic episode that mimics a medical emergency. Intense feelings of dread often accompany it. Individuals who experience an attack may falsely believe they will die.
Panic attacks sometimes involve specific triggers, which may or may not involve past trauma. These can lead to avoidant behavior. For example, an individual worried about having a panic attack in a car may stop driving. Agoraphobia often falls under the umbrella of panic disorders. This is a specific phobia in which individuals avoid situations that may trigger a panic attack or anxiety response. In some extreme cases, individuals may cease to leave their homes.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Patients with social anxiety disorders have anxiety that specifically centers on social scenarios. They constantly worry about what others think or feel about them, even if it is untrue. These feelings can lead to avoidance of activities and isolation. Social anxiety can trigger a vicious cycle of low self-esteem. A person who feels badly about themselves may avoid social situations.
Other Anxiety Disorders
Many anxiety disorders begin in childhood. They often become GAD or other conditions over time. Others may be severe but conditional, such as phobias. These conditions can include the following:
- Selective mutism
- Separation anxiety or attachment disorders
- Substance-induced anxiety
- Unspecified anxiety disorders
A mental health practitioner can help correctly diagnose your specific anxiety disorder. Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment and relief.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
There is no clear-cut cause behind anxiety disorders. While trauma often plays a role, not everyone who experiences trauma develops a disorder. Thus, medical professionals believe that environment and genetics contribute. Contributing factors to anxiety disorder typically include childhood abuse or trauma, chronic or severe medical illness, excessive life stress, drug or alcohol use or abuse, and a family history of mental health conditions.
Based on history alone, you cannot predict whether someone will develop an anxiety disorder. If you notice symptoms, seek treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment leads to positive outcomes. Some health problems can also cause or mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Cardiac and respiratory conditions are common examples. Ask your doctor if your symptoms can cause anxiety. Some medications have side effects that cause anxiety. If you experience sudden worry unrelated to life events, mention it to your doctor. It may have a treatable cause.
CWC Practitioners Understand Anxiety
No two experiences of anxiety are identical. That’s why every individual deserves a personalized treatment plan. At Comprehensive Wellness Centers, we understand the causes of anxiety and can tailor a plan that gets at the root of the problem.
CWC offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for anxiety in our stunning, state-of-the-art South Florida facilities. We encourage you to speak to a representative about the treatment option that’s right for you. Our compassionate practitioners can’t wait to help you pursue wellness and thrive.