While experiencing occasional anxiety is normal for human beings, experiencing constant or intense anxiety that begins to impair functioning or impede on daily activities can be indicative of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in America, affecting an estimated 18% of the adult population. There are many different forms including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias and social anxiety disorder. With generalized anxiety disorder, a person experiences general symptoms of anxiety in everyday life without an apparent cause or trigger. Other forms of anxiety, like social anxiety, are triggered by a specific situation or event. While symptoms vary widely from person to person, an anxiety disorder can often be characterized by irrational fears, incessant worrying, extreme dread of certain things or situations and/or physical symptoms such as a racing heart or upset stomach.
Anxiety will generally be diagnosed after a person has felt worried nearly every day for at least several months and after other causes for the symptoms have been ruled out. Treatment can involve any combination of medication, therapy and the practice of mindfulness techniques. Many people find it helpful to work on identifying the underlying causes and triggers of their anxiety so that they can either try to avoid these triggers or have a plan in place for when an anxiety attack strikes.
An anxiety disorder can cause excessive worry about a non-threatening situation or occurrence. Although the fear may seem irrational to others, the physical and mental manifestations are still very much real to the person experiencing them. Some physical manifestations of anxiety include shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and tremors.
Although an individual that struggles with anxiety can become frustrated with the overreaction of his/her mind and body, proper treatment can help them manage the effects of anxiety.
There are several organizations that exist to provide information and support to those with anxiety disorders. Crisis lines are also available for people who need immediate help.