Anxiety Disorders

What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety Disorders are a form of mental illness that affect an individual’s behavior. Anxiety is not associated with personality flaws and/or weakness. Anxiety makes it difficult to get through the day which trigger symptoms. Treatment includes CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) along with medications.

  • Anxiety Causes Inability to Function at Work and/School, etc.;
  • Overreacting when Emotions are Triggered; and
  • When Response to Situations are Uncontrollable.

A combination of factors may be at work when anxiety settles in, including:

  • Inheritance: Anxiety disorders tend to be inherited;
  • Stress: Long term stress can lead to anxiety disorders; and
  • Trauma: A traumatic event can lead to anxiety and is exacerbated in those who may have inherited a genetic risk.

Symptoms of anxiety disorder include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear, as well as sweating and a rapid heartbeat. Often, treatment combines medications/herbal remedies and therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, together with CBT, can help you feel your best.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Mental Symptoms

  • Panic and Fear;

  • Inability to Forget Traumatic Experiences;

  • Bad Dreams/Nightmares; and

  • Obsessive Thoughts.

Cognitive Behavioral Symptoms

  • Having Trouble Sleeping;
  • Inability to Remain Calm; and
  • Obsessive Behaviors
    (repeated washing of hands).

Physical Symptoms

  • Shortness Of Breath;
  • Cold or Sweaty Hands;
  • Muscle Tension; 
  • Dry Mouth;
  • Numbness or Tingling in Hands or Feet;
  • Heart Palpitations; and
  • Nausea.

Risk for Anxiety Disorders

Higher risk of having anxiety is wrapped around the following:

  • Stressful or Traumatic Events in Early Childhood or Adulthood;

  • Family History of Anxiety or Other Mental Health Conditions;

  • Physical Conditions including Thyroid Problems and Unusual Heart Arrhythmias; and

  • Shyness or Behavioral Inhibition (being uncomfortable unfamiliar people, environment or situations).

Anxiety disorders happen more often in females, possibly associated with hormonal changes. For instance, testosterone may play a role as males have more testosterone which may control anxiety. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD);

  • Phobias;

  • Panic Disorder; 

  • Social Anxiety;

  • Separation Anxiety; and

  • Agoraphobia.

In addition, other Cognitive Behavior Disorders, such as PTSD and OCD share features with anxiety disorders. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension — even if there is nothing to trigger these feelings. You may worry about various topics including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.

Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.


Phobias result in spending a lot of time trying to avoid situations that may trigger the phobia. Phobias also may cause a person to avoid everyday situations. Common phobias include the following:

  • Fear of Animals (spiders, cats/dogs or snakes);

  • Flying; 

  • Blood;

  • Injections (shots); and

  • Heights

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder attacks may start suddenly or they may occur from a trigger. Panic attacks can often resemble heart attacks which should result in a trip to the emergency room rather than second guessing. It is recognized that people with Panic Disorder spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to avoid a “next” attack. 

A Panic Attack may result in:

  • Sweating;

  • Chest Pain;

  • Heart Palpitations (feeling like your heart is pounding); and

  • Feeling of Choking (feeling of having a heart attack).

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorders are wrapped around a feeling of overwhelming worry and self-consciousness with daily social situations. There is often a feeling that others are judging you or that your actions may lead to embarrassment or ridicule. Social Anxiety Disorder may lead to avoiding social situations at all costs.


Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being overwhelmed or unable to get help. Severe cases of Agoraphobia may lead to not leaving your house to prevent a Panic Attack. Usually, you have a fear of two or more of these environments:

  • Enclosed Spaces;

  • Open Spaces; 

  • Lines or Crowds; and

  • Public Transportation.

Management and Treatment

Treating Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders do not go away on their own. However, researchers have made progress over the last few decades in the ability to treat mental health conditions. Your therapist will tailor a treatment plan that works for you.

Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorders

Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps in dealing with an emotional response to the illness. A licensed clinical mental health provider talks through strategies to better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include: 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of psychotherapy used with anxiety disorders. CBT trains you to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. Once recognized, then you can begin to work on changing thought and behavior patterns; and 
  • Exposure Therapy focuses on dealing with fears that have led to an anxiety disorder. Exposure Therapy helps engage activities or situations you may have been avoiding. Relaxation exercises is one method for dealing with anxiety disorders. 


Preventing Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders cannot be prevented; however, steps can be taken to control and/or to reduce symptoms as follows: 

  • Medications: A healthcare provider and/or pharmacist can recommend over-the-counter medications (read and research all ingredients) and/or herbal remedies;

  • Limit Caffeine: Cease drinking caffeine including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate;

  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet;

  • Exercise – Lift Weights: Lifting weights helps to improve glucose metabolism, enhance maintenance of healthy body weight, and help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure; and 

  • Seek Help: Counseling and support helps to keep anxiety in check. Therapy can help control anxiety and other unpleasant feelings from disrupting daily life activities.

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Anxiety Disorder Program

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