What is it?
Everyone has anxiety. But while some people experience anxiety before a major exam or a big date, others feel intense fear and worry about everyday situations… like before every class or every encounter with someone new. When that happens, it is often a sign of an anxiety disorder.
People with anxiety disorders feel these feelings so intensely that it’s difficult to concentrate on everyday activities. They may feel extreme panic about a situation that isn’t so bad in reality. This type of anxiety isn’t something you can “snap out of” and it isn’t anyone’s fault.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, but every single one of them can be managed with the right treatment. The most common anxiety disorders are panic disorders (when someone is prone to panic attacks), obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Is it normal?
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions. The National Institute for Mental Health estimates that 40 million Americans (that’s a whopping 18%!) are affected by anxiety disorders each year. Knowing that millions of people have anxiety doesn’t make it easier to deal with, and because it’s a risk factor for suicide, it’s important to get help. It’ll also make your life feel much more manageable.
What are the signs of an anxiety disorder?
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling powerless
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
How can I get help?
Anytime you are in crisis you can call or chat with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Since many of the signs of an anxiety disorder can overlap with medical conditions, it’s important to see a physician in addition to a mental health professional.
It’s a good idea to find a mental health professional with a background in cognitive-behavioral therapy and is able to prescribe medication. HelpPRO, Psychology Today and the Anxiety and Depression Association of American can help you with your search.
If you want to get connected to mental health treatment center in your area, use the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call 1-800-662-4357.