Everyone has felt anxious at one point or another in their lives. A final exam, public speaking, an upcoming event—all of these things can cause stress or make you feel worried or nervous. But when these feelings don’t go away—and make it difficult or impossible to cope with everyday life—it may be time to seek help.
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans. One of the most common types of mental health disorders, anxiety disorders last at least six months, and can get worse without treatment. They sometimes, but not always, occur with other mental or physical illnesses, such as substance abuse.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders respond well to treatment, but it’s important to understand how they work. There are five major types of anxiety disorders, each with their own unique symptoms.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: People with this type of anxiety have chronic anxiety and constant worrying, even when there is little reason for it. Physical symptoms may include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, and hot flashes.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):This disorder causes people to experience repeated, unwanted thoughts and behaviors. They often engage in "ritual" behaviors like constant hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning.
- Panic Disorder: This type of anxiety involves unexpected, repeated feelings of intense fear that happen suddenly and without warning. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the hands, and nausea.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): People can develop this type of anxiety after going through a terrifying event (such as an accident, physical assault, or military combat) where serious physical harm was experienced or threatened. It involves constant frightening thoughts and memories of the event, and may cause people to experience sleep problems, be easily startled, and feel emotionally "numb."
- Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder): This type of anxiety makes people feel overwhelming anxiety and extreme, persistent self-consciousness in everyday social situations. It can be limited to one type of situation, such as eating or drinking in front of others, or can occur anytime someone is around people. Physical symptoms include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking.
Start enjoying life more. Talk with your primary care doctor about a referral to a specialist. You can view a list of behavioral health specialists, before your appointment, and see which ThedaCare Physicians locations offer services in your area.