When anxiety starts to get out of control, it can lead to serious distress. As it interferes with your life, it might reach the level of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can prevent you from achieving your potential at work or in school, and can cause problems in developing or maintaining satisfying relationships with others. Anxiety disorders are far more common than people realize, and many people suffer from anxiety disorders without even knowing it. Luckily, anxiety disorders can be very effectively treated by qualified psychologists using research-based interventions.
What is Anxiety?
Essentially, anxiety is what we feel when we believe there is a threat. There does not actually need to be a real threat in order to experience anxiety–we just need to believe a threat exists. Anxiety can also be referred to as fear, terror, apprehension, worry.
There are several distinct anxiety disorders, each with its own typical pattern of symptoms. Click the links below to read more:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Symptoms of Anxiety
When we’re anxious, we enter a “threat mode” that is meant to keep us safe. The body enters fight-or-flight, and we’re prepared to run away or to fight whatever threat we’ve identified. When we enter our threat mode of functioning, a host of changes occur physiologically, cognitively, and behaviorally, and these changes will sound familiar to anybody with anxiety. Click here to read more.
In this video, Dr. Damer explains how anxiety develops, how it can become a problem, and how it can be treated.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
What separates common anxiety from an anxiety disorder is generally the amount of distress you feel and the extent to which it interferes with your life. All anxiety disorders have been found to significantly lower quality of life, cause problems in significant relationships, and reduce work productivity and achievement. Click here to read more about the negative impact of anxiety disorders.
How Common are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are very common, being the most prevalent type of mental health issue. Each year around 18% of the adult US population is suffering from an anxiety disorder, and around 28% of people will have a diagnosable anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Social anxiety is particularly common, being the third most prevalent psychological disorder after depression and alcohol abuse. Anxiety disorders affect both men and women, though some disorders are more common in women. In contrast to other many other problems, anxiety disorders strike sufferers earlier in their lives. Anxiety disorders most common start in childhood and adolescence and persist into adulthood. However, sufferers often don’t seek treatment for many years after onset because they do not recognize that they actually have a treatable anxiety disorder. Typically, anxiety disorders are unremitting and chronic. This means that without treatment, the anxiety disorder will not go away, and often will get worse over time resulting in increased distress and impairment of social and occupational functioning.
Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder?
Some of the symptoms described here may sound familiar to you. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, you can take one of the screening tests available on this site. Although these tests can be helpful, remember a diagnosis can only be made by a qualified professional, like a clinical psychologist who is trained in dealing with anxiety disorders.