What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Young Caucasian girl with eyeglasses

Anxiety Disorders are Becoming More and More Prevalent

The prevalence of anxiety is rising, perhaps due to a more anxiety-inducing culture or increased reporting and accessibility of information. In the US between 2008 and 2018, respondents experiencing anxiety rose by over five percent. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America Facts and Statistics Page in 2021 reports that 18% of the population is affected by an anxiety disorder; however, only about 37% of them receive treatment.

There are many possible causes for the development of an anxiety disorder, including hereditary components, trauma, repeated exposure to stress, and adverse life circumstances.  However, these disorders are treatable with therapeutic help and sometimes with pharmaceutical help.

2 Common Disorders Related to Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in different ways in individuals who are sensitive to negative stimuli. For example, some people are generally anxious and have trouble coping with everyday life circumstances, and some people struggle in specific situations.

These feelings affect people in different ways.  An anxiety disorder may be present when these feelings become chronic.

#1 Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Receiving a diagnosis for GAD requires persistent and excessive worry on most days for at least six months. Continued fear and anxiety can affect important aspects of life, from social relationships to employment. Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Restlessness or feeling on-edge
  • Getting tired easily
  • Difficulty concentrating, sometimes known as brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor sleep

Those with GAD are at increased risk for mood disorders. According to Jonas and Franks’s 1997 article titled “Are Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Risk Factors for Hypertension? Longitudinal Evidence From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1 Epidemiologic Follow-up Study,” physical health problems may also stem from GAD.

#2 Panic Disorder

Those with panic disorder experience sudden, recurrent panic attacks. These episodes are usually brought on by a trigger associated with fear, such as an object or situation. People experiencing panic attacks may feel:

  • Increased heart rate or feeling of a pounding or skipping heartbeat
  • Sweating, trembling, or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of being out of control and impending doom

Because fearful situations can trigger panic attacks, suffers may engage in avoidance behaviors, meaning they isolate or avoid the stimulus that makes them afraid. According to Taylor’s article “Panic Disorders,” published in the 2006 Clinical Review, avoidance behaviors may result in phobias, like agoraphobia, a fear of leaving the house or being in crowded places.

Avoidance behavior may negatively affect social relationships and obligations like work and family. For example, people with panic disorder avoid triggers as a means of coping, but this is not a healthy way of dealing with the problem. Instead, avoidance and other learned coping mechanisms might worsen the disorder.

Techniques are available that can help you experience relief. In the following section, you will find clinically proven techniques to find relief for anxiety that will bring you closer to recovery.

3 Coping Mechanisms for Anxiety Relief

Some of the most effective methods for victims of anxiety involve serious reflection, not avoidance. The following holistic approaches have been proven effective for feeling better at the moment and for seeing long-term improvement.

#1 Gratitude Journaling

Journaling, in general, has been shown to increase emotional and physical well-being.  However, gratitude journaling is superior in terms of bettering your state of mind. Doing something as simple as listing your blessings can increase life satisfaction and produce greater optimism. How you choose to journal is a personal decision, but be sure to focus on the things and people you are grateful for.

#2 Mindfulness Meditation Practice

In a process called rumination, many who suffer from anxiety tend to linger on negative feelings without doing anything about them, according to Iqbal and Kaiser’s 2015 article in the Journal of Affective Disorders titled “Negative Affectivity, Depression, and Anxiety: Does Ruminate Mediate the Links?” Rumination is common in those with anxiety, and it will only make you feel worse. Mindfulness allows you to acknowledge a negative feeling, accept it, and let it go.  Meditating helps you focus on the present and realize that emotions are temporary. When meditating, focus on your breath. When your mind wanders to your worries, sit with it for a moment, then return to breathing. Focus on your body and its sensations rather than on your thoughts and anxieties.

#3 Enjoyable Exercise

Do not force yourself to engage in exercise that you do not enjoy.  An exercise you find enjoyable that increases heart rate may relieve stress and increase resiliency against anxiety.

Keep in mind that high-energy and frequent exercise will be more effective than low-energy or infrequent exercise, according to a 2010 article titled “Exercise, Yoga, Meditation for Depressive and Anxiety Disorders” published in American Family Physician.

While these methods may improve your symptoms, it’s crucial to seek therapeutic help as well.

When anxiety becomes crippling to your everyday life by interfering with sleep, social relationships, jobs, and family obligations, it becomes a disorder, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Though it may seem overwhelming to find treatment for anxiety, help is available for you at Casa Recovery. We are here to help you learn healthy coping mechanisms to improve your stress levels and reactions to anxiety; this can help you live longer, improve your health, and better your quality of life.  At Casa Recovery, we want you to be in charge of recovering your mental health. Through collaborating with our team of clinicians, we can create a treatment that will last long after you leave our care and prevent future mental health conditions. For questions about our treatment options, call or text us at (888) 928-2272, or visit our website and fill out the form on our contact page. 

Table of Contents