Chronic mental health conditions like anxiety can disrupt people’s lives and families. Our goal is to help you take back control and live your life anxiety-free.
Stress and worry are a normal part of life. Getting on stage, giving an important presentation at work, taking a difficult test, going on a first date, making a big decision -- these are all situations that can cause anxiety. Experiencing short bouts of worry or stress isn’t cause for alarm, but if these feelings of worry or dread become so consuming that they interfere with daily life, something more serious might be a play.
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults each year, making them the most common mental health condition in the United States. If you believe that you or someone you care about might be experiencing anxiety, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn more about:
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact emergency services or reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s free, confidential, 24/7 national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for immediate assistance.
When we talk about the disorder commonly referred to as “anxiety,” we’re actually talking about a mental health condition called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). People with generalized anxiety don’t just experience fleeting moments of stress -- they experience excessive feelings of fear and worry that make it difficult to function normally.
These intense emotions can be sparked by a number of ordinary concerns -- school, work, friends, health, finances -- but quickly spiral into an overwhelming response. Such extreme reactions can create problems with work or school performance, personal relationships, and completing routine day-to-day tasks.
While Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, it is far from the only one. Other common anxiety disorders include:
Everybody handles and expresses worry differently, which means that Generalized Anxiety Disorder can look very different from person to person. Because the symptoms of GAD can vary so much in type and severity, it’s important to see a trained mental health professional if you believe you may have an anxiety disorder.
Common symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include:
To diagnose Generalized Anxiety Disorder, mental health professionals usually try to assess whether symptoms like the ones above have been present daily (or almost daily) for 6 months or more.
Anxiety is not the only illness that can cause symptoms like these. Medical conditions such as certain thyroid conditions and heart arrhythmias can create anxiety-like symptoms, and so can using some medications or substances (some as common as caffeine). To get an accurate anxiety diagnosis and rule out any other conditions, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a medical professional.
People with anxiety are also likely to struggle with depression. Close to half of people who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with depression.
Learn more about depression symptoms, causes, and treatments >>
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a complex condition -- it isn’t caused by a pathogen or injury the way some physical conditions are. Research suggests that people with generalized anxiety experience a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological causes.
Studies have shown that your genes play a role in whether or not you’re at risk for developing anxiety. A study supported by the German Research Foundation suggests that Generalized Anxiety Disorder carries a moderate genetic risk, being approximately 30% heritable from parents to offspring.
The human body relies on a number of hormones and chemicals to regulate its function. A few neurotransmitters -- including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine (the chemical responsible for the “fight or flight” response), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). If there is a problem with the way any of these biochemicals is produced or handled, anxiety could be the result.
They say people are a product of their environments, and when it comes to anxiety, that is partly true. Exposure to stressful or negative life events such as neglect, abuse, poverty, and more can increase the risk of developing anxiety.
Certain personality traits are linked to a higher risk of anxiety as well. People with shy, inhibited, or neurotic temperaments are more likely to experience anxiety than others.
Each individual with Generalized Anxiety Disorder comes with a set of unique experiences and risk factors that play a role in their diagnosis, which means there is no one-size-fits-all solution for GAD. There are a variety of treatment options available, and after receiving a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, treatment could include:
At Transformations Care Network, we are dedicated to helping people in our communities access life-changing mental health care. If you believe that you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, contact us today to learn what our compassionate care providers can do for you.