In the United States, 52.9 million adults experience a mental illness, and 7.7 million youth ages 6 to 17 years old experience a mental health disorder. The most common of these mental health disorders are anxiety disorders. In the United States, over 40 million adults have one or more anxiety disorders. For children ages 3 to 17 years old, 7% have experienced an anxiety disorder (Mental Health Conditions, 2021).
The four most common types of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This is chronic, exaggerated worrying about everyday life. GAD can cause exhaustion from worry, headaches, tension, and nausea. GAD is the most common type of anxiety disorder.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This is intense fear about social interaction, often driven by irrational worries about humiliation. Panic attacks are a common reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction.
- Panic Disorder: This is characterized by panic attacks and sudden feelings of terror that sometimes come without warning. A panic attack causes physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and an upset stomach.
- Phobias: This is where you tend to avoid certain things or situations that make you uncomfortable or even fearful. An individual with a phobia, certain places, events, or objects creates a powerful reaction or strong, irrational fear.
All anxiety disorders have a unique set of symptoms, but they all have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening. Other symptoms may include:
- The feeling of apprehension or dread
- Feeling tense or jumpy
- Restlessness or irritability
- Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
- Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
- Sweating, tremors, and cramps
- Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
- Upset stomach
The cause of anxiety disorders is believed to be a combination of factors. These factors can include genetics, environment, or a combination of both.
Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families. Some families have a higher-than-average amount of anxiety disorders among family members. Therefore, genetics could be the cause of an individual’s anxiety disorder.
Environment: Stressful or traumatic events such as abuse, death of a loved one, violence, or prolonged illness are linked to the development of an anxiety disorder.
Treatments that are most common for all anxiety disorders include:
- Psychotherapy, which includes cognitive therapy
- Medications, including antianxiety and antidepressant medication
- Complementary Health Approaches which include stress and relaxation techniques (Anxiety Disorders, 2021).
Anxiety disorders. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
Mental health conditions. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions