Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders belong to a group called mental health conditions. The most common anxiety symptoms are nervousness, panic, fear, sweating, and fast heartbeat. Several treatment options are available for this health condition and they commonly include cognitive behavioral therapy and medicines. However, you should not administer any mental disorder medicines without a doctor’s recommendation because it may lead to a worsening of the condition or adverse reactions.

What are Anxiety Disorders?

People with anxiety disorder may respond to some situations with dread and fear. The primary physical anxiety symptoms are sweating and a pounding heartbeat. However, it is normal to have anxiety. For example, nervous and anxious feelings can happen due to a problem at work, going to an interview, making important decisions, and others. Moreover, anxiety helps people to stay alert in dangerous situations. In any case, anxiety disorders mean regular nervousness and slight fear that occur in people from time to time. This health condition can occur in the following cases. Examples include:

  • When you cannot keep under control your responses to situations
  • You usually overreact when your emotions are triggered
  • Your ability to function interacts with anxiety

Who is at Risk of Developing These Mental Conditions?

Certain environmental and genetic factors can increase one’s risk of developing anxiety disorders. Check below some examples:

  • Stressful and traumatic experiences in early childhood or adulthood
  • Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
  • Physical conditions (such as thyroid problems, arrhythmia, and others)

Furthermore, these mental disorders happen more often in women. As per studies, experts suspect it occurs due to certain hormonal reasons but more research is needed. In addition, males have more testosterone than females, which may ease anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders Types

  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Phobias
  • Separation anxiety

Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder have similar features to anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People who experience this anxiety type usually feel extreme worry and tension even if there is nothing to cause these feelings. Moreover, most of the time, people are concerned about different things (such as health, work, school, relationships, and others). Restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and sleeping problems are the main symptoms of GAD.

Panic Disorder

Those who experience this condition will get intense and sudden panic attacks. Panic attacks commonly get the strongest feelings compared to other anxiety disorders. However, people with this condition may also experience feelings of terror (that usually start suddenly) triggered by a situation. In some circumstances, panic attacks can cause myocardial infarctions. Therefore, you should go to the nearest emergency room (ER), if you are experiencing a heart attack. People usually notice during a heart attack the following symptoms. Examples include:

  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • chest pain
  • feeling of choking

In addition, those who experience panic attacks may spend much time concerned about the next one. People are trying to identify and avoid panic attack triggers.


This is an anxiety condition in which a person experiences intense fear of some objects or situations. For example fear of snakes. In most cases, the fear level does not match the situation. People with this condition may spend much time avoiding things that trigger the condition. Phobias include fear of:

  • Animals (including spiders, snakes, or dogs)
  • Blood
  • Flying
  • Heights
  • Injections

Social Anxiety Disorder

Another name for this social anxiety disorder is social phobia. People with this condition have self-consciousness and overwhelming concerns with social situations that occur daily. Those who experience social phobia completely avoid social situations.


Intense fear of being unable to get help usually experiences people with this anxiety disorder. These feelings of fear commonly occur in the following environments. For example:

  • Open spaces
  • Lines or crowds
  • Enclosed spaces
  • Places outside the house
  • Public transportation

In severe agoraphobia cases, an individual may not leave the house at all.

How Common are Anxiety Disorders?

This category of mental disorders is the most common in the United States. Approximately 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. Commonly, these disorders are diagnosed in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.

How Do Anxiety Disorders Impact Children?

At some points in the children’s lives, anxiety, worry, or fear are considered normal. Children can feel scared for example due to a barking dog or a thunderstorm. They can also feel anxious due to an upcoming test or school dance.


The symptoms are different among people because it depends on the type of anxiety disorder a person experiences. Check below some examples:

Physical Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or tingling in your feet or hands
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold or sweaty hands

Mental Symptoms

  • Obsessive and uncontrollable thoughts
  • Flashbacks of traumatic situations
  • Nightmares
  • Feeling fear, panic, and uneasiness

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Sleeping disturbances (insomnia)
  • Inability to be calm or still
  • Ritualistic behaviors (including washing hands repeatedly)

There are certain characteristics that may mean your children have an anxiety disorder. Mostly the anxiety:

  • Can be treated
  • Usually does not improve even after logical explanations
  • Is a fear that interacts with the ability to complete tasks or enjoy life


This type of mental disorder is similar to other mental diseases and does not appear due to personal weakness, character flaws, or problems. Experts suspect a combination of factors that provoke anxiety disorders. Examples include:

  • Heredity – In most cases, mental disorders begin in families and pass from biological parents to their biological children.
  • Environmental Factors – Anxiety disorders may occur due to trauma.
  • Chemical Imbalance – In case you are experiencing chronic stress, it may lead to some chemical changes in the body that control mood.


Physicians will ask you about the symptoms and medical and family history. They can also perform a physical examination. However, there are no tests (such as laboratory tests or scans) that can help to diagnose an anxiety disorder. As a result, healthcare professionals will perform other tests to diagnose these disorders.

Doctors can refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These physicians are specialized in diagnosing and treating mental conditions. The diagnosis usually is based on the following factors. Examples include:

  • The physicians will assess your attitude and behavior
  • Ask about your symptoms
  • They can also give some questions about how the symptoms impact your daily life


Healthcare professionals often prescribe a treatment that involves a combination of medicine and psychotherapies. Check some examples below:


Mental disorder medicines usually cannot cure the condition but can relieve the symptoms. Examples include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications (such as Benzodiazepines) help to reduce panic, anxiety, and worry. While they are effective, you can build up a tolerance for them. It means the same medications can become less effective after a period. That’s why these medicines are used for short periods of time.
  • Antidepressants are prescribed by doctors to improve mood and decrease stress. In addition, you should not stop using them until your doctor directs you otherwise.
  • Beta-blockers are used in the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and improve some physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. In addition, beta-blockers can relieve symptoms such as fast heartbeat, shaking, and trembling.

Additionally, doctors may prescribe certain psychotherapies along with medications for an anxiety disorder treatment. For example:

  • Exposure Therapy – This procedure helps to overcome fears associated with an anxiety disorder. Doctors may also suggest some relaxation exercises and imagery along with this therapy.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This therapy teaches you how to recognize thought patterns and behavior and is one of the most common therapies used in anxiety disorder treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to prevent anxiety disorders?

Unfortunately, anxiety disorders cannot be prevented but the following tips can decrease the symptoms. Examples include:

  • Check out medicines
  • Limit caffeine drinks
  • Have a healthy lifestyle (including regular exercise, balanced diet, and others)
  • Seek help if you experience a traumatic event because it potentially can trigger an anxiety disorder

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific phobias
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Selective mutism
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, do not hesitate to consult a doctor.

What happens when you do not treat anxiety?

In case you leave anxiety untreated it may cause some changes to the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. As a result, your risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders (including depression and dementia) can increase. Ask your healthcare professional if you have additional questions.

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