Anxiety (normal anxiety, ordinary anxiety, common anxiety) is an emotion or feeling that many people experience. At the moment, anxiety produces unpleasant and painful emotions; however, symptoms of “regular” anxiety do not lead to significant interference with your daily life. Anxiety disorders are different. When you have an anxiety disorder, the feelings of fear, worry, and apprehension never resolve. In some instances, these symptoms are so overwhelming they become debilitating, leading to the inability to function at home, at work, or socially. Without treatment to address anxiety disorders, symptoms will inevitably worsen with time. Statistics suggest anxiety disorders are among the (if not the) most common form of psychological disorder. Statistics suggest women are more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders than men.
Many situations can lead to anxiety symptoms, including moving, starting a new job, getting married, or going to a new school. These situations usually lead to typical anxiety symptoms that resolve shortly after the anxiety-producing event is over. When feelings of anxiety are extreme persist for six months or longer or significantly interfere with your quality of life, you may have an anxiety disorder that could benefit from treatment at a treatment program like Coachella Valley Recovery Center.
Anxiety is more than a precise diagnosis. It is a group of related conditions, each with common and unique symptoms. The most common symptom experienced across all types of anxiety disorders is persistent and excessive fear in unthreatening situations. People with anxiety experience a range of emotional and physical symptoms. Common emotional symptoms may include restlessness, irritability, hypervigilance (always on “the lookout”), feelings of dread, and feeling tense or jumpy. The physical symptoms of anxiety consist of racing heart, headache, insomnia, fatigue, sweating, stomach disturbances, and shortness of breath.
Data from research studies have yet to determine a specific or single cause that increases your risk of anxiety symptoms or developing an anxiety disorder. Researchers indicate anxiety disorders likely arise from a combination of multiple factors, including environmental and genetic elements.
Scientists suggest anxiety disorders may have a genetic connection. Some families have several first-degree relatives with diagnosed anxiety disorders. Similar research indicates you are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder if a first-degree relative (parent, etc.) has an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders also develop due to social or environmental factors. Studies suggest you may have an elevated risk of developing an anxiety disorder if you experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Examples of trauma that may lead to anxiety include natural disasters, prolonged illness, violence, and abuse.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders provides mental health providers with a list of specific criteria used to assess and accurately diagnose anxiety disorders. The DSM lists several types of anxiety; however, five specific diagnoses are more common than others.
When you have symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, you struggle with chronic symptoms. The feelings of worry, tension, and fear are present regardless of whether there is a foundation for such feelings.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately 2% of the US population.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by recurrent and unwanted thoughts and behaviors. Unwanted thoughts are called obsessions, and behaviors are called compulsions. Examples of compulsions include cleaning, counting, and checking. Someone with OCD performs compulsions to reduce the severity (or even presence of) obsessions. Although compulsions (also called rituals) dramatically interfere significantly with one’s day-to-day life, failure to perform often leads to more significant, more debilitating anxiety. Recent studies suggest approximately just over 2% of the population has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Someone with a panic disorder struggles with unexpected and repeated feelings of overwhelming and paralyzing fear. Their fear is typically accompanied by physical symptoms, including difficulty breathing, stomach upset, and racing heart. Panic disorders are believed to affect up to 3% of Americans.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety that develops out of trauma or the threat of trauma. Examples of trauma that may lead to PTSD include violence, assault, illness, accidents, and natural disasters. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in approximately 6% of the population.
Social phobias or social anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of self-consciousness and uncontrollable anxiety in everyday social situations. Approximately 7% of Americans have a social anxiety disorder.
In addition to the above diagnoses, other types of anxiety occur. Common examples of other (less frequent) diagnoses include specific phobias (between 8% and 12% of people), agoraphobia (between 1% and 3%) and separation anxiety disorder (between .9% and 1.9%).
Living with anxiety is challenging; however, anxiety disorders and associated symptoms respond well to treatment. The best treatment program for you will depend on several factors, including the severity of your symptoms, the type of anxiety you have, and whether you experience symptoms of another co-occurring condition such as a substance use disorder.
Most anxiety treatment programs include a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. There are several types of talk therapy; however, the two most influential models used to address anxiety conditions are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. CBT encourages participants to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that fuel their anxiety symptoms. Exposure therapy enables you to gradually confront your fears and anxiety triggers in a safe, controlled setting. With exposure therapy, the process of exposure may occur ‘In-person” or in your imagination. As you progress through treatment, you will develop the power to face your fears without anxiety.
If your anxiety symptoms are severe enough to limit your ability to actively engage in therapy (or day-to-day obligations), your treatment provider may suggest medications to help reduce the intensity of some of your symptoms. It is important to remember that anxiety medications can be habit-forming and are not designed for long-term symptom management. Examples of medication used to manage anxiety symptoms include sedatives and antidepressants.
Some people experience mild anxiety symptoms. These symptoms do not interfere with their daily life and are easily managed until they resolve independently. Others are not so fortunate. In these cases, anxiety symptoms are overwhelming and debilitating. While there are several anxiety disorder diagnoses, it is essential to remember that all types of anxiety are treatable, even in the most severe cases.
With treatment and support at our Southern California rehab, we can help you overcome the debilitating effects of anxiety. It is important to remember that even the most severe cases of anxiety respond well to treatment. Our caring and compassionate treatment team are here to teach you how to manage your symptoms and cope with anxiety-producing triggers.
If you are ready to start your recovery and put struggles with anxiety in the past, contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more about anxiety treatment in Southern California. Living with anxiety is difficult, but an anxiety disorder is not something you must carry with you. Let us help you get started on your journey towards freedom from anxiety.