“Do I have an Anxiety Disorder?”
It’s normal to worry more when you are experiencing a particularly stressful life event or transition, however when when anxiety and worrying start to consume your everyday life, you may have an Anxiety Disorder.
Over the last two weeks, have you experienced any of the following?
- Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
- Not being able to sleep or control worrying
- Worrying too much about different things
- Trouble relaxing
- Being so restless that it is hard to sit still
- Becoming easily annoyed or irritable
- Feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be experiencing an Anxiety Disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety is the most common mental health diagnosis in the United States, affecting an estimated 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population annually. Unfortunately, while Anxiety Disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering with Anxiety seek treatment. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
“What are the different Anxiety Disorders?”
According to the DSM 5, a manual used by Physicians and Mental Health Professionals to diagnose mental health disorders, there are seven (7) Anxiety Disorders https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
1. Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder involves symptoms related to excessive anxiety triggered by the separation of a child from their home or from those (in adolescents and adults) to whom the person is attached. Their anxiety is beyond that which is expected for their developmental level, and the fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, lasting at least 4 weeks in children and adolescents and typically 6 months or more in adults.
- Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
- Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
- Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped)
- Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation
- Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
- Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
- Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
- Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
2. Selective Mutism Disorder
Selective mutism is a type of anxiety disorder whose main distinguishing characteristic is the persistent failure to speak in specific social situations (e.g., at school or with playmates) where speaking is expected, despite speaking in other situations. Associated features of selective mutism may include excessive shyness, fear of social embarrassment, social isolation and withdrawal, clinging, compulsive traits, negativism, temper tantrums, or controlling or oppositional behavior, particularly at home.
3. Specific Phobia
Specific phobias are intense, irrational fears of certain things or situations. Phobias aren’t just extreme fear; they are irrational fear. Adults with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but often facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.
- Fear, triggered by the specific object or situation, or anticipating it, that is excessive or unreasonable
- The fear is persistent, typically lasting at least 6 months.
- Exposure to the phobic stimulus provokes an immediate anxiety response, which may trigger a panic attack or marked behavioral change in children
- The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation and is not a typical response in the person’s social or cultural context.
- The phobic situation or situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress.
- The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared situation interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.
- The anxiety, panic attacks, or phobic avoidance associated with the specific object or situation are not better accounted for by another mental disorder.
4. Social Phobia Disorder
Social Phobia is sometimes called, “Social Anxiety Disorder.” People with Social Phobia experience a marked fear of social or performance related situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.
- Feeling highly anxious about being around and talking to people
- Feeling highly self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
- Being very afraid that other people will judge them
- Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
- Avoiding places where there are other people
- Difficulty making and keeping friends
- Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
- Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around
5. Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.
- Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
- Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
- Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
- Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
Agoraphobia is anxiety related to being in, or anticipating, situations where it would be difficult to escape or where help may not be available in the event of having a panic attack, or panic-like symptoms. Typically, when in this situation, the individual may have thoughts that something dreadful may happen. Such concerns must persist for at least 6 months and occur virtually every time an individual encounters the place or situation.
Symptoms include the individual experiencing intense fear in response to, or anticipation of 2 of the following 5 situations:
- Using public transportation
- Being in open spaces
- Being in enclosed spaces
- Standing in line or being in a crowd
- Being outside of the home alone
7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms.
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
- Irritability; Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling the worry
- Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
If you, or someone you love, is suffering with an Anxiety Disorder, Thriveworks Counseling can help. Thriveworks has licensed counselors and therapists who are trained to treat people with anxiety disorders.
One treatment approach that Thriveworks employs is CBT, short for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT teaches clients a different way of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is very important for treating anxiety disorders.
Another type of therapy focused on addressing fears related to anxiety disorders is Exposure Therapy. Exposure Therapy focuses on confronting the individual’s underlying fears to allow the fears to diminish with relaxation exercises and/or imagery.
“How do I get help?”
Here at Thriveworks, we also know how difficult it can be to get an appointment with a qualified therapist who accepts your health insurance. At Thriveworks, we accept most major insurance plans and typically offer appointments within 24 hours of your initial call.
We are conveniently located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, at 600 N Jackson St, Suite 300, Media, PA, 19063, and are accessible by public transportation via SEPTA Regional Rail, Trolley, and bus. We also offer ample free parking.
Call 610-808-9923 to schedule an appointment, or fill out a contact form and we’ll call you!